Once upon a time, a writer, at a sudden utter loss for words, picked up a child’s peg loom and wove a yellow moon. Two toddlers in diapers, into tissues, soap suds, and sandboxes, had rendered her writerly life unwaveringly tactile. Grappling with yarn over a paragraph far more appealed!People used to ask a certain writer what new novel she was writing. Now they only ask IF she’s writing.
No, I’d say. I’m weaving. “Oh!” they exclaim, their false enthusiasm the dull thud of my son’s marble dropped into an empty coffee can.
My novels. You can still find them on Amazon or the coffee table where my boys play “library,” under a pile of Spiderman and old college Shakespeare books. One day, I plucked one up and shaking it in their faces, said, “Do you know who wrote this book? Your MOMMY.” They looked at me, for a moment considering Mommy other than the mean one who would make them restack all those books on the shelves. But then my little one stretched out his hand. “That will be ten cents.” I didn’t think to remind him that library books were free. I gave him a pretend dime.
When did I become so writerly unmoored? When my first born was seventeen months and gleefully began knocking books down off those same shelves, shredding tissues and playing “dink” (flooding the kitchen sink). With a nursing newborn on my breast, I was grateful for his newfound distractions. I would find time later to mop the flooded kitchen floor and peel up wet tissue balls before they stuck like glue. With children, there is always time for the tactile!
The thing was, I began to consider too closely these messes. Even the smaller ones, dried macaroni elbows under the table, Cheerios stuck to the couch. They would bother me in a way messes didn’t used to, when I was writing, when dishes piled up in the sink and beds were left unmade and I didn’t care. Here was the other thing: my babies were growing up too quickly. Although my older child still worshiped his pacifier, he would slam the screen door to strut out to the sandbox, and I saw him as a teenager snagging our car keys. This fierce new independence unmoored me, not only from whom I used to be, a writer. But from whom I thought I’d become, a content stay-at-home-broaching-middle-age-mom.
My boys’ nap time then became sacred; I would retreat to the cool dark of the basement, not to write, but to explore an avenue I’d ignored in my great quest to be a great writer – the creatively tactile. Unlike drawing, painting or paper collage, in weaving, that juxtaposition of different textured fibers was quite different from any other medium I’ve explored.
So when people ask if I’m writing, and I say no, I’m weaving, I don’t mind that dull thud of their response. The boys are a little older. Now there is a “poison forest” of straws taped to the coffee table. But the difference is this: in the company of my looms, I no longer consider such messes too closely.