Tuesday, June 5, 2007


I remember sitting at the sewing machine with the piece of material that was to become a skirt in front of me. Mom was standing over my left shoulder peering at the stitching. I would go slowly, guiding the needle by the way I moved the deep blue cloth. I wanted my stitches to be as straight and smooth as hers. I could visualize the skirt as I would wear it to school. I'd twirl and the skirt would flow around me. I stopped the machine and we both inspected the line of thread.
"No, go rip it out and try again," she'd say.
I hated to rip out. I hated to redo what I had already done. But this was for a 4-H project and had to be just right. So, rip out I would do. The slow picking, trimming, and pulling of thread. It took so much time...wasted time, I felt. To make a piece of cloth into something worthwhile, it always took time and patience. Two things this young girl lacked.

Mom has been gone for over seven years. I never did get those stitches straight enough. Sometimes I feel I never got anything straight enough. I would try over and over for her approval, for her praise. I wanted to know she was proud of what I did, but it never came.
"That's good, but I know you can do better," she would say.
I was a child that was satisfied with mediocre. I was happy with average. She wasn't. She knew more than I, what I was capable of, so she pushed.
I still, today, hear that voice, "Okay, Kathy, that's good, but I know you can do better." So I do. I try harder. I work harder. I rip out and do it again. She's making me into the woman I am today...still.


Ruth said...

Kathy --
I loved reading a story from your childhood. You have such a pleasant style when you write -- I think could read your stories forever!

I had written several I remembers in my notebook over the weekend. One was about sewing with my mom. It was on my mind because Saturday we spent 5 hours working on a quilt together. We were reminded of the many hours we had logged when I was a little girl. Sewing with mom was almost always pleasant -- except when the fair rolled around. Mom always said, "There's the 4-H way & the way we do it all the rest of the time." I think I love to sew today because of "all-the-rest-of-the-time" way!

Anyway, because of this connection, I got a giggle out of you ripping out your stiches -- I guess I'm glad I wasn't the only one forced into such a horrid time-waster! But my giggle was oppressed as I read the rest of your piece. For what it's worth, I think you're "practically perfect in every way" -- kind of like Mary Poppins! :)

Write On Kathy said...

You are so sweet! Because of friends like you, I am learning to like myself...rip outs and all! Thanks for sharing your memories of 4-H times, too!

Sarah Amick said...

I found myself thinking about a quilt that I started for myself for my marriage. It was beautiful. I spent an entire summer piecing it together and then when I had it all together I didn't know how to put a backing to it. My mom finally sold it to a woman who said she would finish it. I never saw it finished. There is a lot of hard work in sewing. Thank you for your post. I too think you are Mary Poppins like!

Jen Barney said...

Oh Kathy-
What a wonderfully deep story. Thank you for sharing. Thank you for being you. Thank you for all the wondefully perfect things you have done for me!