This morning at 8 AM – a full two hours before I’m normally up and about – I was dressed and sipping coffee. My large, well-worn grass basket held fresh oranges, bagels with cream cheese, and water. The kids’ clothes were packed in there as well, two blankets stacked on the carseats, and the kids themselves enjoying their last few minutes of sleep before my mother arrived and we packed everything in her minivan for a trip.
I wish I didn’t have to drive out of town to purchase fabric – but I do (or order online). Last night in cutting a dress pattern I had mis-cut and squandered the bit of yardage I had remaining; I instantly knew I’d have to travel to Olympia (fifty minutes away) to buy 3/4 yard of Bemberg rayon. I knew my mother had an errand to run there as well so last night I called her and we made the date.
My mom and I find so much to talk about when we are together. Truthfully, I feel like I do more of the talking. Or rather, I tend to wind myself up in rants and she listens through and offers her own enthusiastic input. My mother is one of the handful of people in my life who supports, I mean really supports, almost everything I do as a parent, everything I think important – and so much of it different than many of my peers. She has stood by me while I made so many choices differently than she and my father: homebirthing, extended breastfeeding, quitting my job to be home full-time, home- and then unschooling, and – my latest and most exhilarating challenge – allowing my children their deserved freedoms out in the world. My choices as a parent say so much about who I am. My failures as a parent say so much about what I struggle with. Sometimes I forget what a wonderful thing it is I have such fierce support from my husband and such loving and constant acclaim and feedback from my mother. I am truly fortunate.
I love fabric shopping. Even if I am there for only a zipper or thread, it is a pure joy to meditate over the sundries and supplies of my craft. I often allow myself the purchase a few yards of something if it catches my fancy and I have the money: today this was a tomato-red knit that is destined to be something special for my husband. I have learned in the last few years that when on a limited spending plan it is best to relax a bit, pick the fabrics and patterns that appeal to one, collecting them here or there when the grocery budget permits (that said, my stash pile of fabric is very small – in fact, much smaller than many people I know who collect and buy fabric but rarely make anything with it) and trying not to think about the vast, overwhelming lovely choices out there had I more money and time. Time to sew comes eventually and there is a laundered and folded pile of wonderful fabric waiting to be transformed.
Fabric shopping with my mom is more fun still. She doesn’t sew very often, and she didn’t sew very often when I was raised in her household. However, she’d learned to sew as a young woman and the joy and confidence she gained always showed through. I tried sewing with her as a child and young adult; I mostly remember arguing with her and I hated so much of the process – like the pinning and cutting out, which seemed to take forever. But the craft either runs in my blood or her example was enough to pull me back into it – not to mention her gifts of fabrics and accoutrement. The year before I was married she bought me a Kenmore machine of my own; two years ago she upgraded my life with a new Juki. In fact, although at this point my tailoring and technical construction skills have surpassed hers, I have not grown into the satisfaction I observe in her when she sews for herself. I am still a perfectionist; I am still struggling with knowing how to voice myself in fabric and how to accept my body and learn to clothe it expressively.
Today, though, the acquisition of fabric, conversation, good coffee, and a stop at the barbecue restaurant served as wonderful ways to hide from a rainy day. Tonight the red knit is washed and folded; the patterns are tucked in with the others; the tracing medium carefully folded and pinned onto the cardboard bolt I store it. My studio awaits when I am ready for it.
Last night I groused about the weather as we drove to Sophie’s swim team. My daughter said to me, “I know you don’t like the rain, but April Showers bring May Flowers.” A beat passed as I considered sarcastically remarking it was only January, about a hundred more straight rainy nights to go, when she continued: “Do you know what May Flowers bring?” I said, “No, what’s that?” (without much interest) and she said, “Pilgrims.”
I rarely laugh at wordplay but she got me there.