When I say this to people they inevitably respond that they don’t know how I find the time on account of the four kids and other requirements of adulting. But the truth is, quilting is so important to my well-being and makes me better at all of the other things. Here’s a few reasons why:
1. It makes me happy.
On days when I am in a foul mood, my kids will say “maybe you should go quilt for a minute,” because they know it is guaranteed to make things happier around our house. When I asked my teenage son what I should say for this article he responded by saying “you’re calmer because you quilt” (he also said it probably keeps me off the streets and off of drugs, because teenagers are hilarious like that).
Maybe you don’t have an inner granny like me, and quilts are not your jam, but I think every mom should ask herself: what do my kids see me doing that I really enjoy?
2. At some point every quilt is garbage.
Anyone who has made a quilt will tell you that there is a point in making every quilt where it just seems like an ugly mess. Hanging in there through this part of the process, where it is an annoying slog and definitely does not seem like it will turn out, has made me a more persistent and patient human being.
If you have mothered for more than five minutes, you know that any activity that increases your persistence and patience is probably good for your parenting.
3. It models learning.
One of the joys of a hobby is that you can always improve. I am currently learning a whole new method for quilt making called English paper piecing, and it is so challenging. My kids get to see me learning something and improving as I work.
As parents, we ask our kids to constantly learn new things and improve at them, and yet we’re often reluctant to be seen as beginners. When was the last time your kids saw you do something you were bad at and had to struggle to master? Quilting gives me an opportunity to model being a beginner and a learner.
4. It helps me say yes to the mess.
Creativity is almost always a messy process. You can’t make quilts without fabric scraps and little strings and some chaos. Accepting this has helped grow my capacity to tolerate the messes involved in my children’s creative processes.
My kids are makers.
I like to think that this is, in part, because they see me making things and also because our home is a place where people are free to be creative, even if it means our kitchen table is pretty much a paint-covered disaster all of the time.
5. It reminds everyone that I’m also a member of this crew.
Somewhere in the midst of the all of the caretaking – the wiping, driving, watching, cheering, cooking, hugging, affirming, cleaning, shaping – I think it’s easy for our kids and sometimes ourselves to forget that we are also human people who live for more than the meeting of their needs.
While I want my kids to know I love them and enjoy nurturing their interests, I also want them to leave home knowing me as a person and not just a chauffer. I think them seeing me pursue my interests helps to nurture their understanding of me as a whole person.
6. It’s a tangible sign of my love for them.
There is nothing I love more than for my kids to be wrapped up in a quilt I made for them. I have made them princess quilts, Star Wars quilts, bright orange quilts, ocean quilts, and science quilts to name a few.
Each quilt for my kids represents who they are and what they loved at a moment in their childhood. I hope, as they are wrapped up in a quilt I made them, they also know they’re wrapped in my love.
7. There’s no such thing as a perfect quilt, but there are so many beautiful ones.
I once went to a quilt show at a super fancy art museum in New York City. The quilts were breathtaking. And if you looked closely enough, they were all imperfect – wavy seams, nipped triangles, corners that didn’t quite line up, the occassional stray color.
If you look closely at any quilt, you will see plenty of mistakes and imperfections. But here’s the thing about quilts: it doesn’t matter.
At the end of the day, a quilt is beautiful because of the whole big picture, not because there are no mistakes. Quilts are an amazing combination of colors, patterns, textures, and love.
They are never perfect.
They are beautiful.
Just like our children.
Just like us.