I spent Sunday afternoon with my knits and purls and wooden needles softly shuffling against each other as I worked on a baby blanket. Being in the midst of a summer cold, the cruelest of maladies, I was content to sit and sip tea and think about this baby for whom the blanket is intended.
He is already here, Master Arthur Henry, and I only just met him a couple of weeks ago, this happy little fellow who smiles and gurgles and rolls over like a champ.
He rolls with such gusto he often ends up under things, like my rocker, and he can’t get out, and I swear, I think for him that is half the fun.
He doesn’t live all that far away, but as for so many of us, visits with new babies have been a different kind of thing. His mother and grandmother are good about posting pictures, so it seems like I almost know him. But really, those expressions caught in mid-air, the flatness of a photo, are inadequate substitutes for real-time giggles and smiles and drool.
He is easy to hold and likes it, nestling in and burrowing his head just under my chin, only to pop it up a short second later. He’s a good sleeper, I hear, once he gets there, but he fights it, afraid he might miss something.
His mother and I had conversations about yarn color for the blanket. She and her husband like a cool and muted palette, and I think maybe “oatmeal” was mentioned as fitting into the nursery scheme.
I aim to please, and had gathered up a very soft, very bland wad of ecru yarn, had almost paid for it, when I just had to go back for one more look. I couldn’t imagine spending hours working with it, it was that boring, and I think a blue-eyed, ginger-headed baby needs something as bright as he is to wallow around and wrap up in.
I found a nice blue, not garish or cliché, and muted enough to work in the nursery, warm enough to be inviting.
So, on Sunday, unwell and feeling sorry for myself, I spend a couple of quiet hours knitting and listening to the afternoon rise and fall just beyond my windows. I’m glad I have met Arthur now, as I finish his blanket. When I knit something for loved ones, I like thinking about them as I work. Not exactly as one might while knitting a prayer shawl, but kind of.
If I am working on something for a baby or a child, I don’t watch Netflix or listen to podcasts, at least not my usual fare. I might watch a cozy British mystery, but never anything gruesome or troubling, or laden with language. It is as if the recipient of the blanket is in the room with me, and I have to monitor my surroundings.
This isn’t even conscious, and I only realized it while working on Arthur’s blanket. I just couldn’t find something to watch that seemed in keeping with knitting for a baby on a Sunday afternoon.
So, I sat in the quiet and knitted and purled, counted rows. I thought about him as I worked, but nothing so specific as hopes and dreams and speculations for his future. Of course I want him to be well-loved and happy, kindly treated and nurtured in every way. But those big, specific things, those are the wishes for parents, for their quiet moments of dreaming,
I have a different job.
I am the auntie, the great-auntie, as it happens. My job is easy. I just have to be here. Sitting with a half-finished blanket in my lap, the stand-in for the little person who will fill my lap the next time he visits. Waiting to get to know him better, what juice boxes to have on hand, what cookies we won’t tell his mother about. Discussing what is on his mind, his worries and his favorite jokes, or discussing any old thing at all.
All on earth I have to do is love this child. And to love his new cousins coming along in quick succession. Knit them blankets. Make sure they know where I am, any time, day or night, anywhere in the world.