Sunday, February 21, 2010

Ask and Ye Shall Receive

Thanks for all your support around my previous post. Your comments and emails mean a lot to me.

You all probably can guess what happened. I never would have believed it.

At the stroke of 9:00 am yesterday, Mom called to ask me to go with her to the store where she buys embroidery supplies. She wanted me to pick out colors for an outfit for Teagan (my granddaughter-to-be). She also wanted me to pick out some embroidery patterns.

We spent the afternoon putting designs on onesies for Teagan.

Maybe the reason Mom always presumes I can handle things on my own is that I do handle them on my own. I don't ask for help. I wait. I hope. I rarely--very rarely--ask.

The message is loud and clear, and it's not restricted to this small issue or even my relationship with Mom. This is a Life Lesson.

Hiding my weaknesses has never been a successful strategy. Perhaps it's time to give it up.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Stitches in Time

It's gray outside (again), but the sun is shining in my soul.

I spoke up.

I said what I needed to say.

To review: Evan and his girlfriend are having a baby and that they're not in a good financial position to raise a child. I started making blankets and shoes but have moved on to sleepers and tiny gowns. My mother has been making bibs and changing pads and other darling little things.

Newsflash: My niece is pregnant. 25 and not married, she faces an uphill sled. The baby's father is 35 and not very involved in her life. She's barely supporting herself at this point.

Immediately, my mother kicked into high gear preparing for this baby, who isn't due until the end of September. Things she had been making for my granddaughter were pushed aside into drawers and boxes. The two of us went to Babies R Us yesterday, and everything she bought or looked at was for my niece's baby.

When my kids were small, their clothes were works of art. We embroidered and smocked and appliqued and painted on every single piece. Except the "we" was actually "me." My sister had three children; I had two. My sister was always in the middle of some crisis or another. When we got together to sew, I worked on things for my children. Mom and Deb worked on things for hers.

Debbie's children have heirlooms mine do not--beautiful pieces with shadow work and smocking and hand applique lovingly stitched by their grandmother.

Twenty-some years ago, I said nothing. Not when Mom smocked dresses for all the girls but Katie. Not when she spent weeks making Christmas outfits for all the children but mine. Not when she made entire spring wardrobes for Deb's kids and asked what I planned to make for mine.

All these years later, the same situation is developing. From the get go, Mom is pointing out the reasons my niece's baby will need help more than Evan's. Evan has the trust fund, so his basic expenses are covered. Last week, the trust administrator agreed to pay for the baby's health insurance and some other expenses, which is a load off my mind. My niece has no such back-up.

I understand and agree my niece needs help. To tell the absolute truth, years ago I understood why Deb needed help. I am willing to help. I am not willing for my granddaughter to miss out on heirlooms from her great-grandmother.

Today I told Mom this, quietly; graciously; emphatically. I mentioned how precious these heirlooms are and said I wanted my grandaughter to have them, too.

It might sound like a small thing, but it's enormous in my world.

E. Nor. Mous.

Monday, February 15, 2010

If You Learned It...

This makes me happy:

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Crying Time

I find myself crying a lot lately.

It's strange, really. I'm driving or cooking or working and suddenly, I'm sobbing. Not sniffling. Not discovering tears on my face. Sobbing.

My son's girlfriend, my goddaughter and my niece are pregnant right now. None of them planned her pregnancy. None is married. None is prepared. All are both excited and terrified. I am both excited and terrified for them.

But that's not why I'm crying.

When I struggled with infertility, my doctor suggested joining a support group at an organization known as Resolve. My then-husband would not hear of it. Not only would he not go, he refused to let me go.

Yes, I know. Now, I know. He didn't have to let me. He had no right to dictate my path. But then, I was afraid to make him mad, unwilling to hurt his feelings with my grief. (We could not have children born to us mostly because he had radiation therapy for cancer. He took any sign of sadness as disloyalty--his survival was the only thing that should matter.)

That's an old, old story. The more interesting thing is that grief buried itself somewhere in my body. It lurked, waiting its turn. Now, these young women have accidentally achieved what I never could despite thousands of dollars and untold hours of painful treatments, and the pain finds its way to the surface.

I love my children. I wouldn't trade them for anything in the world--that is not and never has been in question. I lost something elemental and primal, something I wanted desperately. The issue is that I never really grieved that loss.

The crying doesn't bother me. I sob as long as it takes then wash my face and get back to work.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What Is "Bored"?

Saw this article on my home page this morning: "In a commentary to be published in the International Journal of Epidemiology in April, experts say there's a possibility that the more bored you are, the more likely you are to die early."

Reading the article, I tried to conjure the feeling of boredom, tried to imagine what it's like or remember a time when I felt bored.

I couldn't.

I always, always have more to do than can get done. In moments of forced idleness (waiting in lines and so forth), I ponder. I am a world-champion wait-er. Waiting gives me time to think deeply, watch and listen to other people.

Just last night I had to wait almost 45 minutes for Evan. (He went to work without enough gas in his car to get to a station after work. I filled a gas can and went to meet him after work. The process didn't take as long as I estimated, so I was a little early. The mall doesn't close until 9:00 pm and he had to close up the store afterward.)

The time went by amazingly fast. I watched people leave the mall, pushing and carrying and dragging small children. I listened to them call to each other and laugh at one another. I paid attention to the way they walk, just in case I need to describe how tired or happy or flirtatious someone is by writing about how they walk.

Maybe I'm too simple minded to be bored.

Oh, and in case you wondered--No, it doesn't worry me at all that a young man who can't keep gas in his car is going to have a child to feed. Not. At. All. And I didn't spend a moment of that 45 minutes worrying about it.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Red and White

A group of my summer bike-riding friends have taken me into their circle. One of these three women loves The Bachelor, which has to be one of the silliest shows ever produced. The rest of us don't especially like the show, but we like each other.

Every Monday night we get together for dinner and The Bachelor. We eat and laugh and talk to the television and each other. We bet on things and cheer like this silliness matters. We drink wine.

Last night we gathered at my house. I bought red wine because they all prefer it. They brought white because red gives me headaches. That small kindness and the fact that they remembered touched me.

This morning, my house--freshly cleaned and sparkly all over--still echoes with the laughter and fun of women who like and support one another. Few things in life are more precious than good friends. I am so thankful to have found these women on the bike trail.

Now...if spring would only arrive.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Designing Woman

When the kids were little, people stopped me on the street to ask where I got their clothes. 95% of them came straight out of my sewing room. Today, as I worked on a design for a little gown, I decided to photograph the process for this and several other projects and turn the designs into a book proposal.

Sewing no longer is less expensive than buying clothes--in many cases it's quite a bit more expensive. Still, it's an art that shouldn't die, one that might appeal to young women with an interest in the past and an eye for the future. Plus, clothing manufacturers have to be paying slave wages when they sell little sleepers for less than $10.

Publishing isn't what it used to be, so it would be an uphill sled. But anything is possible.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

For Love of the Game

Last night I asked Evan to come help me with a small project--a bulb broke off inside a can light, creating a short that tripped half the breakers in the house. I needed his height and his brawn to fix the problem.

He arrived in a bad mood and got worse as we worked until I finally told him I'd figure it out later. Then I gave him a darling fleece blanket I made for the baby.

Evan looked at the blanket and shrugged. "I don't have room in my apartment for all this baby stuff," he said. Then he turned and walked out of the house, leaving the blanket behind.

I've been in a major funk since that moment, more than 24 hours ago. I can't understand why my adult son can't manage to help me with a (very) occasional small project, why he would be so rude about something I'd obviously worked hard to make, why he can't receive the gift of my love. Why. Why. Why.

As always, I finally came to the same conclusion I always come to: I'll never understand.

I can do things for Evan and for the baby, but only because I want to. That has to be enough--expecting anything else simply breaks my heart. Over and over.

And over.

What Becomes of the Broken Hearted

This month starts my second year of Meatloaf Mondays. After a long weekend of work and home projects, I hit Sunday night with tired feet and a heavy heart. It's a cookie month (we alternate between cookies and cake for dessert at the shelter), and I wanted to make heart cookies for the kids for Valentine's Day. That meant cutting out and decorating at least 7 dozen cookies.

At 11pm, that sounded nuts, but I got a running start at it--4 dozen baked before bed. At 6am Monday, I baked the rest of the cookies and started frosting and decorating. Pink icing. Red sprinkles. Multi-colored sprinkles. Bright pink sprinkles. Pastel non-pareils. My entire kitchen was covered in sugar and sprinkles. By 9am, the cookies were ready to box up and I was more than ready for a shower.

At the church where we cook, the children's room was dressed for a party. "Oh, let's see," someone said. "We knew we could count on you to make something special for the kids." The craziness of the late-night and early-morning cookie baking melted like chocolate in a pocket.

One of the other volunteers brought a goodie bag for each child--beautiful red bags filled with chocolate hearts. Someone arrived with two dozen cans of applesauce, which the children consider a huge treat. Another volunteer sat in a corner, finishing a special project.

Last night, 400 adults and 75 children received a hot meal. Each child got a heart-shaped cookie, a bag of chocolates, and a pencil decorated with hearts, wrapped in a heart-shaped note.

Many of these children endure heart-breaking situations, but on at least this one night, they are warm and full and satisfied. They carry out a message: You are loved. Who knows what stories they might write with those pencils of love.