Being Very Quiet in the Fabric Store


I am not crafty.

I try, but my successes are limited, although my ideas are lofty.

I do, however, frequently experience the winds of change. As in I frequently have the urge to rearrange my furniture. My grandfather did things like this. I’m told he’d tear through his house – with a twinkle in his eye – discarding, repositioning, or overhauling anything in his path. When I was 9 and living thousands of miles from my grandparents, I came home from school with a similar twinkle and tore through my room until I had pushed, hefted, rotated, and shimmied every piece of furniture in every possible direction except upside down. When my father came home from work that evening, my mother told him his father had paid a visit to our home that afternoon.  Perplexed, my father couldn’t figure out why on earth my mother hadn’t called him at the office and told him to high-tail it home since apparently his father had shown up across the country for a surprise visit.  Grampie hadn’t, of course.  Rather, my mother showed my father my room.  And he understood.  I most certainly share the “Change Gene” with my grandfather.

Yesterday, the urge hit.  Our living room had been in the same configuration for at least six months – an eternity in our household.  Our dining room was, quite appallingly, arranged identically to the year we moved in – 2004.  I was done.  It all had to move.  Now.

So I moved it.  Sliding cloth under the legs of the couch so as to not scratch our wood floors, I slid the couch from one side of the room to the other and back again.  I rotated our dining room table – perpendicular, horizontal, and catty-corner, back and forth.  Side chairs got shoved into several corners.  Accent tables moved here and there.  Most notably, I worked hard to gently adjust our thousand pound piano.  I would have moved it across the room if I could have, but I feared too much for the floors – not so much for scratches – but instead that the weight of the legs would dig channels through the wood and I’d be left with a wood floor containing moats.

Finally – with a little help from Tahd on the entertainment armoire – I had the major pieces positioned.  I set out to edit and accessorize, a project which still looms heavy over my head.  I enjoy it, but these winds of change are supposed to be completed in a day.  The fact that we’re stretching into day 3 is disconcerting.

The problem with these little adventures – certainly not the only or even most important problem if you ask my husband, but a problem nonetheless – is that rearranging means I want to buy things.  I try to use from the treasure trove in my house.  And by treasure trove, I mean random bits and pieces of noncohesiveness I’ve accumulated over the years.  But sometimes there is just a need – a particular spot in the rooms calls out for a certain something to make the area feel complete.  But because there is no Winds of Change line in our budget, my job is to fake the funk .  If I can do it cheaply and/or by repurposing things we already own, that’s what I do.  And that is what led us to the fabric store today.  I decided our coffee table was far too large for the new arrangement.

Our current coffee table is actually Gabe’s train table – a piece my husband built from scratch for Gabe’s second birthday because first, we couldn’t afford an “official” train table and afford the trains and tracks to go on it.  Second, we didn’t have room for the official tables.  They’re gigantic when compared to our pocket-sized 1920s Dutch Colonial home.  Third, we think they’re ugly.  Not to offend anyone who owns one.  But I think most women can identify with the idea that we’re less than thrilled at the prospect of seeing Thomas’s face plastered on four sides of a table in the main room of our houses. F or me, it is most definitely not the focal point I’m looking for in any room of our house.

Anyway, my husband built a beautifully scaled down wooden version of a “Pottery Barn-ish” play table, complete with a chalkboard-painted top and coordinating toy bins underneath.  And since 2006 it has served as our coffee table – a place for trains and drawing and cars and miscellaneous toys on most days, and a sort of sophisticated-looking entertaining table when we’re in the mood for an adult party.

The new configuration, however, demands something smaller than 30 inches by 40 inches.  I’m looking for more like 15×30.  Upholstered.  And modular.  But cheap.  Very, very cheap.  Knowing I have a handy husband and knowing an upholstered table does not need to look pretty under the fabric, I figured we could patch together wood scraps to build what I needed.  Then I’d cover the top with batting and sew a plain, simple cover.  Theoretically, I know I can sew a cover.  I sewed the crib skirt for Gabe’s nursery.  It wasn’t perfect but it wasn’t awful, and it contained a great deal of love and learning, two values which I would very much like for him to acquire.  So we set off to the craft store in search of the perfect fabric – fabric that doesn’t clash with my navy couch and green walls that adjoin with khaki walls and red walls.

A tall order, no?

The fact that I’ve now written about 900 words and they have nothing to do with the jist of my post?  Hmm… Hopefully I edit home decor better than I edit my story-telling.

Gabe and I scoured the fabric store looking for the perfect pattern and print to complement the vibrant colors of our home.  It wasn’t until I reached the very back of the store that I found options – several options.  Gabe seemed glad to have something in the cart to divert his attention, and I was thrilled to be pulling choices that were on sale – 30% off!  I was even more thrilled when I realized just behind me was an entire wall of clearance fabric – entire bolts of fabric for $5 or $7 or $9.  I combed the racks, running back and forth from my cart to a new section while Gabe sat in the child seat, his legs dangling nearly to the floor.  He is far too big to be riding in carts.  But we each live in our own denial – me that he has gotten so big and is almost five!!  And him that it’s actually more comfortable than walking to ride in a too-small metal cart with plastic bum-protectors hardly thick enough to provide any buffer.

At this rear point of the store, Gabe thought we were alone.  I know this because he began whooping and hollering, much to my dismay.  Explaining that we were not, in fact, alone and that he’d have to dial back the volume, he proceeded to explain that he couldn’t see or hear anyone so we must be alone.  After several reminders and rising frustrations, eventually he relented.  I drew near to the cart with one of several fabric selection, and he got quiet.  In hardly more than a whisper, he asked:

“Why is God saying no that we can’t have another baby in our family?”

“I don’t know,” I told him.

“I don’t even really know if He’s saying no.”

You’d have to know that we’ve been fairly honest with Gabe about our fertility struggles.  For us, it was most practical.  My fertility prayers are always on my heart, constantly murmured silently in my mind, sometimes crossing my lips audibly.  The chaos in my mind bubbles to the surface regularly, and when my son watches me dissolve in tears, I have to tell him something.  Usually, I tell him that mommy is sad because she’d like to have a baby in her belly so we can have another baby in our family, and for some reason God is saying, “No,” right now.  It was especially important for us to have framework for dialogue during our ivf attempt.  There were many doctors appointments – appointments he attended with me.  There were many procedures and lots of needles, some of which he reveled in helping Tahd administer.  And there were tears – some during, but many more when it failed, and although I don’t talk easily about my feelings, we had to say something.

His question surprised me today, though, because he brought it up.  Most often, something precipitates his questions.  And in the past, his questions have tended more toward the observable and less toward the existential.  I wasn’t entirely sure where his line of questioning would take us.

So I had told him I wasn’t sure why or even if God was saying no.  And he said,


“Stand really, really still.

“Don’t move.”

I obliged.


We breathed, me not entirely sure where this was going.

“What do you hear him saying right now?

We stood, silent, him staring at the front of the cart, me clutching a stiff bolt of brown flowered twill, listening for the voice of God to tell us if He’d grant us another baby.

Gabe persisted, admonishing me to Be Still!  Listen Harder!  What was I hearing?

Me?  Well, I was hearing nothing.  Nothing but the desires of my heart bubbling and stirring within me.  Perhaps it was God stirring those desires, gently sharing my answer with me.  Maybe those desires were all mine and God was choosing silence in that moment.

“What do you hear?” I asked him, tentative but anxious to know what he’d say.

I’d love to write about how an answer wise beyond his years poured forth from my 4-year-old’s mouth.  But when I asked him what he heard, he said something akin to “Shrok!”  Fitting, I suppose.  When I told him I didn’t know what that meant, he exclaimed, “It means ‘Yes!'” but had already moved out of the moment and on to fabric and batting and feeling every. single. bolt. within arm’s length and beyond.  It was sudden, our switch from pensive and silent to loudness and chaos and the typical interactions you observe while a mother wheels her eager, curious preschooler through any store.

But I wonder.  Does God talk to my son?  Does Gabe know what God’s voice sounds like?  Does he hear Him easier than I hear Him?  Are the cries of my heart so loud that they drown out the Wisdom I need to find?  Would I know the answers to my questions if I stumbled on them, or would I be so busy mulling the questions that I missed the obvious solutions?

Maybe more stillness is in order.

Surely more stillness is in order.

But as appealing as stillness is, it’s still elusive and a bit intimidating and unnatural.  There is so much to do – things that need to be done and things I want to be doing.  There is so much to consider, so many problems to solve.  There hardly seems time for stillness, a retreat from the chaos and norms into the sacred and the earnest quiet.

Maybe my four-year-old will teach me.

Maybe that’s the way it is supposed to be.

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  1. I think that we may be related in a past life. I am exactly the same way. I hope that you find (er, make) the perfect piece!
    .-= Lisa´s last blog ..Fabric Give-Away =-.

  2. I know! How it is possible that they are too big for the carts??!? This makes me sad every week at the grocery store!

  3. Direct email

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