Monday, October 6, 2014

Random Updates


Okay, the snow is over.

And I'm done grouching about the weather. You are all so nice not to tell me off and all. Good heavens, if my own kid were crabby because the weather wasn't what she wanted, I'd have told her to Go Find Something Fun To Do Until The Sun Came Back Out or something equally motherly. Not that I think of you guys as my mother, I mean. Uh... this post is not off to a good start, is it?


So random update time now.

First, I've been bursting to share this because it's about cardboard! Last week, I got to skype with upper-elementary gifted program students all the way over on the East Coast! They were participating in the Global Cardboard Challenge and wanted some tips on working with cardboard. Very exciting, not only because I got to present the 30-minute version of my epic cardboard post, but also that I was in a classroom. With real students. I miss being in classrooms. So what if it was virtual? There I sat at my sewing table in my own house, surrounded by cardboard odds and ends, communing with people thousands of miles away like it was the next room. Technology is wonderful.

Second, I've been working on a couple of commissioned projects i.e. Sewing For Other People. One is for a book and the other is for a magazine. Commissioned projects are fun. Not because you get money and fame, but because you get to work with someone else's abstract idea or concept and turn it into something real and physical. There's a little bit of you in it, and a little bit of them in it, and it's always exciting to see what that combination looks like in the end. However, being that these are also brand-new, never-seen-before projects, there is also a lot of tweaking and prototyping involved. So an assignment like, "Sew a giant squid in oilcloth and minky fleece for our 2016 compilation, "Sea Creatures From The Depths Of Hell, Vol 2" is never just about drawing squid-shaped templates on (in this case, very large) paper. There are all kinds of other things to consider, like, will the fabric I pick be easy for most people to buy? Is my construction sequence too complicated for the average seamstress? Do the instructions fit into the 3-page limit they allot me? Will a fifth (or sixth, or 347th) prototype correct the weird curve in the beak of the squid or should I just give up now and make do?

Third, Halloween costume making will be commencing soon. And my children are showing none of the solidarity of previous years' requests. Brisk walk down memory lane: last year they were all Narnians. The year before that, they were Superheroes. And before that, Musketeers. And Princesses.

This year, one wants to be Elsa, another wants to be Queen Susan in her archery war outfit, and another wants to be a scientist. Now, I don't need for them to be matchy-matchy in order to sew their outfits, obviously. And sure, the resulting group photo is going to be a bit eclectic-looking, but that's what people going trick-or-treating are supposed to look like. What struck me, however, was that my kids are no longer thinking with the herd mentality of their younger days. They are becoming their own persons now - some are planting their feet more solidly in reality while others still have the magic of Disney's glitter dust in their eyes. It feels like the day is not far off when they might no longer even want to dress up or pretend and that makes me a little sad. Because while they are getting ready to leave those wonder years behind them, their Mother is not sure that she is.

Fourth, I have a post on drafting that I am dying to write, but keep being distracted from writing. It's like that sleeves post that you all liked so much and kept pinning and linking and sharing with other people (thank you!). This one is all about darts. It's half done but I had to stop because I suddenly needed to peel back another layer and go a different direction. And also because I thought that I should sew a block and drape it for you to see how darts are created on it. So, if you've been wondering if I'd ever write another Subtleties of Drafting post, the answer is yes! Except that it's taking a while. There are all kinds of other sewing projects in the way, not to mention cooking meals and helping with homework and documenting birthday parties that happened (what feels like) millenia ago. Please don't hate me! To tide you over till I finally write it, here is a dart diagram:

Fifth, I suddenly had a crazy idea for a new tutorial series. Came out of nowhere, as my tutorial series(es) usually do. Had to get out my notebook and write it all down and then firmly put it away. It is obviously procrastination in disguise. Embarrassingly easy to recognize. How do I know? Because it always happens just when I need to sew Halloween costumes. Anyway, this one is about bags again. I am very excited! But I have disallowed myself from even thinking about it further until the children are all bedecked in their (hopefully warm) handmade Halloween splendor.

Sixth -and this is quite funny- an invitation came up for me to teach at our local swim school (for kids). To teach swimming. Not Physics or sewing or cardboarding. I was so taken aback when the nice swimming school manager broached this to me that  I snorted and guffawed and accused her of being crazy. So ashamed. But I honestly never saw it coming. 

Sadly, I had to politely decline. It wasn't that I wasn't sorely tempted. After I'd gotten over my astonishment (and apologized profusely for my ungracious ejaculations), I listened to the nice lady explain all the arrangements and got quite excited. It wouldn't be a classroom and it wouldn't be a Science lab, but there'd be kids and I would be teaching again, helping them get from what they didn't know to where they needed to go. There are fewer things more thrilling and satisfying than that. 

However, this is not the year when that could happen: saying yes to the swim school would mean saying no to being with my own kids when they came home from school. It was an easy decision; I realize I am still Mother first, all other things second, third, fourth and fifth. I didn't always feel as altruistic as this. Some years ago, when my kids were babies and toddlers and needing me in all-consuming ways, I yearned for an opportunity like this- to work outside the home again, to take on Other Defining Roles just so that I wouldn't feel typecast as Diaper Changer or Face Wiper. 

And now that I am at the "I Can If I Want" stage in my life, I'm choosing differently. Isn't motherhood a study in irony? We mothers are, after all, impossible to pigeonhole. We are anything and everything. And our identities expand and deepen even more with each new stage at which our kids are. 

Which made me think of all the moms of very little ones out there. The ones with a toddler (or three) permanently installed at your hip or meandering, stroller-impaired, through the supermarket aisles. Yoo hoo! This age that your kid is at? It's a great age. The next stage he's headed for? It's even better. But not because he's going to need you less; he won't. It's because you'll be more. 

And if you're reading this and thinking, "I would SO have taken that swimming position. Which means I must be a bad mother. Yikes." Don't. We're all differently driven and differently effective in our various roles. And maybe in a year or two, when my kids have left the nest, I'll be ready to spread my wings and leave, too. And then I'll dive into that pool and teach some other people's kids the way someone else taught mine when they were tiny.

The point, fellow moms, is that we will always want the things just out of our reach. They're annoyingly alluring that way, aren't they? Especially when we see other moms Doing Their Independent Thing in their high heels and without a single spot of mashed peas on their shirts. But the grass may be just as green on this side of that Kidco safety gate as it is on the other. And when you realize it, may you rejoice at how glad you are that it is.


  1. Thank you fellow mom- I love how you articulated this progression of our kids and us along with them.

  2. Sound like you're just a little busy these days. ;) I love that your girls are your priority right now.

  3. You are inspiration to moms everywhere. On an unrelated side note, I love your tutorials -- our homeschool co-op is so much richer because you are here and willing to share what you know. Also, I was also a teacher once upon a time (Doctoral program, then tenure I teach a 4 & 6 year old) -- I also miss the classroom, but wouldn't trade my current life for anything.

  4. I was a SAHM for 20 something years and wouldn't trade that time for anything. After my children were raised I worked in the classroom as an instructional assistant and had the best time ever. We can have it all; just not all at the same time! Since you are in the position to do so, I applaud you for putting your children first! I feel great sorrow for those who don't have that opportunity... Thanks for all the fun things you share with all of us!

  5. Oh my, love you love you. Thank you so much for the dose of support for all kinds of mothers. We *are* all different, it *is* all good. Thanks.

  6. I love these posts of yours. Motherhood is an incredible journey - one I am still very much figuring out!

  7. I love the random posts! Sounds like life is exciting for you right now. How nice to have so many interesting activities on the go. Super excited for the darts drafting posts! Planning to combine that with the sleeves tutorials in some post-Christmas sewing for myself.

  8. What a lovely post! I'll wait happily and patiently for your teaching posts to come up.

  9. I just had my third in three years. Your comment about 'all-consuming ways' was spot on, and prepared the way for your comment 'not bc they'll need you less...but bc you'll be more'. Thank you for that perspective, it is very heartening. Right now the alluring thing out of reach is time to sew cool stuff and make things from cardboard that my kids won't destroy in a day. XD ironic no? Thank you for sharing your life on here, I would come here just for the way you write- about anything- that is so authentic and interesting and quirky. You are a personality I would love to actually meet someday, til then thanks for sharing on here. :)

  10. Snow is over, now? From where I stand, with a summer that isn't inclined to leave us at all this year, looks like winter should be breathing down your neck with a vengeance! As to the rest, have to just echo everybody who has already commented!

  11. Thank you especially for the last few paragraphs of this post. I'm at the toddler+infant-on-the-hip point in my life. Even though I think this is the best job in the entire world, I still do my fair share of grass-is-greener comparisons. I'm learning contentment (God is good), but I was/am encouraged by your words.


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