Leanna keeps knitting needles and yarn in her sack, along with diapers, snacks, and trinkets for her young children. Sitting in the foyer of the piano studio waiting for our children’s class to begin, I ask her what she’s making.
“It’s a sweater for the baby.”
“Oh, pretty,” I respond, “I learned to knit when I was about eight and made a couple of easy scarves.”
Leanna says, “I’m teaching my girls to knit. I think it’s important for a woman to know how to keep her hands busy. When my husband is watching TV, I can sit with him and knit.”
I think that’s sweet, however, I change to feeling that I would take that time to do something that I want to do if I’m not interested in the game or whatever show my husband is watching.
Over the years, I’ve grown into a person who always has to be doing something. It has to be necessary, like cleaning or bill/home management; physically fun, like walking with friends or horseback riding; or mentally stimulating, like reading, writing, or doing puzzles. I watch TV, but it’s the news or talk shows, and even then, I’m working in the kitchen or having a meal. Once a week, though, I might sit and watch a show with my husband or the kids or have a phone conversation with a good friend or my mother; still I’m on the cordless phone—multitasking.
In a nutshell, the art of “calm” often escapes me.
The conversation with Leanna was about five years ago. I enjoyed seeing her and her six children and was intrigued by their lives. A homeschooling family, they lived on land where they raised chickens and owned a horse or two. She loved the recipes in Southern Living magazine and baked bread. She seemed peaceful, an amazing feat with six children (all born at home) competing for attention, though they mostly got it from each other. I remember someone incredulously asking her, “When do you have time for yourself?”
Calmly, she replied, “The kids are not allowed in my bedroom before 9 am and after a certain time at night. It’s the time my husband and I have our private time.”
I’m thinking of Leanna today as I sit in bed sewing my daughter’s swimsuit. Sparing the details, it is about a fifteen minute job. No one is home except Layla the dog who lies at my feet. It is quiet and I hear her breathing as I watch her chest rise and fall in dog unevenness. The house cracks. A plane flies over. Birds are chirping outside my window. A car turns around in my cul-de-sac. The air conditioner kicks on as the temperature rises, disturbing the white noise of my surroundings.
My mind is not racing or trying to concentrate on something. Simply, my hands are busy. I am calm.
Leanna knits. My husband and friends garden. A male neighbors tinkers in his garage. I get it.
What do you do to “busy your hands” to make you calm?
Image photographed by Anita