WAHM: Kelly White
I'm Kelly White. I practiced law for about a decade, and then I became a stay-at-home mom. This year, I launched my knitwear design business!
As an attorney, I worked on fascinating, high-stakes civil and criminal cases. In my spare time, I created paintings, participated in art shows and sold my work. Everyone said that having a child would change everything, and it did change most things in my life. But it didn't change my messy desk. My desk (and work table) remain strewn with yarn, fiber, fabric, notes, plans, intentions, and works-in-progress. For each thing I learn, there are ten more things that I want to research or try.
I have one child. He’s five and just finished his first year in a Waldorf kindergarten.
Recently, I chatted with a husband and wife, parents of one of my son’s classmates, at a cocktail party. They were incredibly friendly and unassuming, but a few minutes into our conversation, the woman asked the question I've come to dread the most in social situations. She asked, "And what do you do?"
When I'm asked, "What do you do?" I often want to shout in response, "EVERYTHING AND NOTHING!" But because that kind of response would be rude, I usually look away, maybe down at my feet, mumble something about what I used to do and what I used to be, and then trail off about how I'm now a stay-at-home mom who’s starting out as a knitwear designer.
I'm not ashamed of my current occupation, but I am not at ease with it, either. When I was younger, I was adamant that I would never, ever be a stay-at-home mom. I remained firm in my resolve until shortly after Wyatt was born. When I stepped away from the legal profession, I had absolutely no plan for what I would do next. It has been almost five years since I quit my job, and I am just beginning to explore my next and latest move into the fiber world. I feel like I have never been busier day-to-day, or less productive (or less important) in the eyes of society. And while it felt liberating to shed my "lawyer" title, being a mom-at-home, working or not, sometimes makes me fear that I am betraying the feminist movement simply by breathing air.
But my cocktail party friend wasn't asking big questions when she asked what I do. She was just trying to find out about me. As I began to mumble my response to her question, I felt myself look down at my shoes. In that moment, though, I suddenly noticed my feet and felt how firmly they were planted on the floor. Feeling unusually calm and secure, I looked up at her again, and just as, "I practiced law for awhile, in Los Angeles and here in San Francisco, but I don't do that anymore," was out of my mouth, I heard myself add, "and if I were being fancy, I'd tell you that right now, I'm in a 'period of reinvention.'" To my amazement, she and her husband laughed appreciatively and said they might have to borrow that phrase sometime.
Reinvention is proving to be pretty challenging for me. Exploring things is fun when it goes well and it’s disappointing when it doesn't. I recently released my first three knitting patterns. Hitting “publish” on Ravelry and receiving the hard copies I ordered were pretty big thrills after all the work I poured into the project. Now I’m on to the next steps—sharing my work and finding my way in a new industry. I’m learning as I go, seizing opportunities as they arise, and connecting with other entrepreneurs who inspire me.
I’ve started to realize over this past year that identity is fluid, and I can define myself however I choose. All of us are more than the sum of the activities we do on any given day, and we have every reason to embrace our successes, celebrate our wins in business and life, and seek support when we need it.
Kelly recently published a trio of children’s patterns: the Treetop Collection. This month, you can save 20% when you purchase the e-book that includes all three designs. Enter code WAHMLOVE at check out.
You can find Kelly on Ravelry: http://www.ravelry.com/stores/kelly-white-designs
On her website: http://www.stringandtwig.com/
On Instagram and Facebook: @stringandtwig and https://www.facebook.com/ stringandtwig/
And Twitter: @twinklitoes.
Is there a work at home mom in the fiber arts you would like to hear from? Leave a comment below and I will do my best to represent them on the series!