Friday, June 17, 2011

To Detroit and Home Again and the Worst Mother in the World

I've just gotten back from a quick 4 day trip to Detroit to tape the upcoming season of Knit and Crochet Now. It was one of those trips I'm glad I won't have to repeat anytime soon. I have forgotten how awful traveling for a living is. Did that, done that, please, no more. Because I fly in and out of Hartford, it is hard to get a direct flight anywhere meaning that I am usually on two or three different legs to arrive anywhere. On my way to Detroit, upon landing in Philly, there were no planes due to weather. (Looked gorgeous to me, what do I know?) I waited in a line for 4 hours to only find out that I would not make it to Detroit until the next day. After an evening at the Days Inn somewhere in suburban Philly, I arrived at the airport at daybreak to then take 2 more planes to finally arrive in Detroit about 20 hours late. All for the knitters I kept saying to myself!

The cameras

Over the next three days, I helped with the set decoration, and taped 5 shows that will air next fall. The PBS station in Detroit (DPTV) is a wonderful place, full of helpful people and a fabulous crew. They always make us feel at home. This is I think (sad I can't even remember) the 4th time I have been in Detroit. I can now say, and happily at that, I'm not at all anxious about the t.v. thing. Knowing what to expect production wise is helpful. 

Producer Candi, Michele from Simplicity and Drew Emborsky
The hardest thing is learning the steps for the projects I need to demo especially when they get thrown at you in the a.m. and you only get one take to present the project. Time is of the essence for all of this. Rush, Rush, hurry up. Get on the set. Hope I remember all the important points. I designed two of my demo projects (which means I had to make the "step-outs and the projects too) but otherwise I was showing three other designer's projects.

The staging area just beyond the studio
The set and some of the crew
The worst part of this trip was that I had to be away from my family and the farm. As you all know, we don't have help with the farm chores. It's just me and The Farmer and Julia. As our farm (number of animals) has grown, I have to help out with the day to day more and more. Moving sheep and fences is an almost nightly chore. Catching sheep - I don't dive for them but I work the gates. Haying - well I just refuse to do that because I'm not good with heavy equipment. Heck, I can barely back up my truck without hitting something. I can't imagine backing up a tractor with a baler or rake behind it. Way too much money invested for me to break. Carrying frozen meat up and down stairs, marking it with weights and retail prices, that I can handle. Producing recipes and hand-out materials - I'm not so bad at that either.

But really, my life is about taking care of Julia, the husband, the chickens, the dogs, the cats, the house. No matter how much I in the past have wanted this marriage thing to be non-gender specific, it just doesn't happen. I cook, I clean (oh let's say I don't, but I should), I take care of the gardens and all the other household chores. There's still wood to be stacked, gardens to be cleaned. It's not like The Farmer doesn't help - he is just too darn busy out there in the fields harvesting hay, climbing hills, moving fence and trying to keep animals alive and well fed.  Besides running another separate business. Basically, I think we both must be a bit psychotic. I keep saying to him (when he worries that there will be more lamb competitors) "Who else would work this hard and do all this stuff that needs to be done?"

I've been on such a schedule to get some new clothes to wear on the t.v. set, get my projects made for the t.v. show, write a couple of articles for upcoming mags, and keep up the Farmers Market lamb meat supply and marketing materials, that I haven't yet planted my garden. The house is a disaster (just ask Mom who came to stay while I was gone - BTW HUGE THANKS MOM). But you know, I just have so many hours in the day and I've got another big freelance gig I've got to finish (for which I am incredibly thankful to be making some decent money). Julia gets out of school next week but then it's back to summer school until the end of July. I've got to get the place ship-shape for the first group of "Get Stitched on the Farm" students at the end of July and just keep carrying on. I'm really glad to be back on the farm but frankly, I feel there are just an overwhelming number of plates spinning around on those thin sticks up in the air. Guess every mother feels this way, right? I am no different than the rest of the mothers out there (and I only have one kid), trying to feed everyone, pay the bills, keep everyone happy. Sheep mamas, human mamas, chicken mamas.... we're all the same. This chicken mama (who hatched 9 eggs about 2 weeks ago and who has fiercely protected her brood) is proud as punch of her pack of chicks,

To top it all off, Julia graduated from Elementary School and I missed it! (That's the worst mother of the year part.) It just breaks my heart that I missed the sweet little ceremony with the 6 kids (5 boys and Julia) up at our little town hall. I was able to gather up a posse of friends and family to attend and I know Julia didn't miss me one bit. My friend Marsha emailed me some photos just after the ceremony and I lay there on the bed in the Detroit hotel room crying. All for knitting and yarn. Hope the viewers of the t.v. show appreciate it. Who am I kidding - they could give a sheep's ____ about me. I am so done with that. I never want to leave my family again! How in the heck did Katie Couric do it? Good for Meredith for quitting! Sometimes life is just too short, isn't it?

Which leads me to the winner of the big "Judy Moody Giveaway." Stephanie who wrote: "My summer memories revolve around swimming, riding bikes and reading: biking to swim practice in the early morning, over to the library to check out 12 books at a time, then to the pool in the afternoon, and finally on to evening swim practice. There are songs (e.g., In the Year 2525) that can transport me back to those summers."

I loved reading all the great comments you guys sent in. They made me pine for being 10 again, laying on the grass and watching the clouds roll by. I hope I do that just once this summer. Maybe I will have to try it tonight. That is if I get something put in the veggie garden and price all that lamb for Saturday's farmers market tomorrow on the Amherst Common next to "The Taste of Amherst." Should be a busy day, fingers crossed.


Sally said...

As my mom used to always say, we do the best we can. Congrats to Julia!

Meghan said...

I struggle with the tug of family versus work all the time. As I am just getting started with designing and mostly working from home I am able to spend most all my days with my kids. But on those days I can't, or I have to work and miss something I remember that even though my parents were constantly busy with being professional musicians, teaching from home, teaching at university, and playing in the symphony. When they missed every Hallowe'en for a concert, and countless dance recitals that they were fulfilling their creative endeavors. I missed them but they taught me that to be the best person I can be is to follow my passion. They were better parents because they had more do to than just dote on us, and they taught me that there is great joy in family but it also involves sacrifice.

I am not trying to preach, but your dilemma really touched me and I feel this a lot in my own life. Your designs are brilliant and knitters (especially me) love them, I will definitely tune in to see you on the show when it airs :)much love :)

constantly knitting said...

Oh gosh, I feel that pain about being absent for the big things even if you're around for most of the day-to-day. I am reminded by my oldest boy that your lovely daughter will remember the day-to-day more than a lot of the big events as she becomes an adult. Best Wishes!!

Whosyergurl said...

Kristin, I was the worst mother in the world! Besides working full time AND being a single mother I added to the mix...finishing my undergrad. Actually, I think it was good for my son to grow up with us studying together at the kitchen table. Your talk of filming the shows makes me think of Julia Child's My Life in France when she talks about her cooking shows.
Hang in there! xo, Cheryl

Auntie Shan said...

Sweetie, IF I was the Religious-type, I'd nominate You for SAINTHOOD! I *still* don't know HOW You manage it all!

BTW, getting to Detroit is a pain even from a BIG City! The last & *only* time [a decade ago] I flew to Detroit from Ottawa via Toronto - it took 13 Hours [I could have *driven* in that time!] because of TWO "mechanical" problems. The 2nd was MID-AIR! And we had to go BACK to Toronto! Basically, pretty much one travel disaster after another, however, the REST of the Weekend was *GREAT*! -- Even got to meet ADAM WEST [even in his mid-70s then, he was still looking damn Fine!] in the Hotel Restaurant! From then on, everything was pretty much "bonus"!

Anyways, hang IN there! Can't wait to see the new Eps!!

Caffeine Girl said...

You are a great mom. Even though you couldn't be there, you made sure that Julia was surrounded by people who care about her! And you'll have more important graduations over the next decade!

I was a single mom, and I have to say that you have more plates spinning than I did! No one works harder than farmers. I discovered that when I was an ag reporter (the last ag reporter at a daily paper in Wisconsin). There is no group of people I admire more!

Lu said...

Hang in there Kristin! We love and admire the work you've chosen to do. Feeding people in your family and also in your community is a hard life but your family is doing it.

I am not sure how you get it all done but I bet your priorities and heart are in the right place.

I hope you get your moment to look at the clouds this summer. Lu

Elaine said...

Thank you for being there and letting us share your thoughts. Being overwhelmed is a part of our lives now with multi-tasking being the norm for most of us. I really enjoy your spots on Knitting and Crochet Today and watch the program every week even though I've seen all the episodes many times. I'm looking forward to the new programs.
Taking care of a child, husband, sheep, dogs, cats, chicks, etc. leaves little time for other "stuff" but we all generally try to squeeze in more. Just take time out for hugs every day from the loved ones around you. Hugs are great for lifting the spirit whether given or received.
I wish you could come to Stitches Midwest sometime in the future.

Paula said...

I often think "how does she do it all?" when I read your blog. When I read this post, I felt that I was reading the post that I thought I might see some day about how difficult it can be to be doing so many different things.

My mother loves New York City. When I told someone recently that she missed one of my birthday parties because my father sent her to New York for her birthday, which is 3 days after mine, the person was appalled that my mother missed my birthday party. I don't remember ever being upset that my mother missed the party. My mother set up the party, the person who did housekeeping and some childcare for us from when I was very young carried it out, and my mother called from New York. We each had a good birthday.

Julia will think it was great that she had a wonderful graduation and her mother got to do her unique work.

Carrie said...

You had me in tears by the end of your post. You put into words the deep dark thoughts that I do not dare. Hours upon hours laboring for the benefit of our farm animals that we dearly love, four farmer's markets, my "real off-farm job" and our kids growing up all to quickly, somewhere around here...
Please give Julia a great big congratulatory hug from us!

MicheleinMaine said...

Kristin, your comment struck a chord with me as well. Like you, I'm the Mom to a wonderful girl with special needs. I'm a single mom, I work full time and have a home business. My vacuuming is hit or miss. Our clothes are clean, and I cook something every night, but after that it's a triage situation! I do the best I can (I repeat that phrase to myself a lot!). We fulfill our creative needs to keep ourselves from going completely crazy, and as we share that love with those around us, we make the world a better place. We raise resilient kids who know they are loved but realize (on some level) that perhaps they are not the center of our universe 100% of the time. (just 99%!)

mary kate said...

I really neede to read your blog today as I sat in my messy diningroom on the computer instead of doing the 1 million chores that await me. Stop and think about the good stuff that you are a part of every day because you are home with you lovely family most of the time. Right now, my sons took their Dad fishing for Father's Day. My 10 year old was ready to burst because he was so excited so NUTS to the housework! you know what's important and so will your daughter...keep your chin up!

tina said...

My friend, I'm going to tell you something my mother used to tell me, "You're just tired. Take a nap, eat some chocolate, things will look up." And of course she was right. You are one of the most amazing women I know, on the short list that I'd name when asked for creative women who damn near run the world. My mother is gone and I miss her dearly---- more every day. But her words live on for me and your will live on too. Take a nap, eat some chocolate--- you're a BLESSING, a wonderful mother, a loving partner, and all the rest falls under that umbrella of love!

Anonymous said...

When I'm overwhelmed by all the things I have in the air and my heart is racing in panic at all the stuff to be done, I think of my aunt who calmly says, "It will all be there in the morning." That really does help me prioritize. If it has a pulse, it gets my attention, otherwise, it really will still be there in the morning. Take care of you.

Grand Purl Baa said...

Whew! I'm exhausted just READING about it. Hello Kristin. Just waving from across the sea and wishing you the best. Loani

Anonymous said...

Hi Kristen: Been there, been there, been there! My mother and grandmother the same. And I'm proud of them for showing me the way, for setting an example of life spent doing valuable things. So I teach my own Julia; we just painted my mother's room together. Years ago, when I was working as an ICU nurse, I told my mother this: "I know my house isn't as clean as some people would keep it, but when you spend 8-12 hours on your feet trying to keep someone from dying right in front of you, right now, very little seems that important". So hug your family and go play in the garden.

ellen said...

Dear Kristin,
I hope you truly know how many people respect and admire what you do in all aspects of your life. And...I hope that you know that we do realize that it is not easy and that many things are pulling you in so many directions.
I think (forgive me if not) that what we want to say is that we are respectful of all you do, understanding that it is such a hard balance, and so grateful to have the beauty that you create in your it painting, knitting, gardening and being the shepherd of your family.
We all put our pants on one leg at a time and I am always so blessed to experience your realness here.
Thank you.

Kelley Hart said...

Oh my gosh, you made me laugh out loud! I felt the very same about leaving my little boy, when I was standing on the great wall of China several years ago, and my sweet 5 year old was playing a soccer game at home in California. I was on a tour, living out my dream, playing the saxophone, but I felt horrible. Soon after, I built up my home business, stopped touring, and ten years later I'm so happy to be home (most of the time!), still doing what I love (just a different direction). Also glad to hear that you don't waste your time doing a lot of house cleaning. I'm sitting here reading your blog instead of getting to our disaster of a house. Thanks for always inspiring! Next I want to get chickens!