Saturday, October 15, 2011

You do what?

Last year my youngest child started full day kindergarten. Prior to that he was in a preschool that took me 20 minutes to drive to and the hours were only 9:15am until noon. And it didn't meet every day most weeks. In other words, I had very little free time, and what I did have was usually spent grocery shopping, doctor or dental appointments, and trying to fit in some exercise. So I started developing a list of things I wanted to do when I finally had more than 15 minutes a day to myself. Of course, at the time I had no idea of the secret that many moms of kids in school full time already knew - that once your youngest goes off to school you realize you do not have any more time than you did before. It is all taken up by the same things you did when they were home, except they aren't there to keep you company. Things like laundry, waiting for the guy to repair the washing machine, more laundry, going around to 10 different stores trying to find the stupid light fixture with the odd sized bulbs that seemed so cool when you bought the house, more laundry. Nevertheless, I had dreams.

One of my goals was to learn to play tennis. The last time I had played tennis was a class in high school that I had to drop out of because I had injured my back playing soccer. And for over 20 years I hadn't had the desire to touch a racket. But for some reason I decided I wanted to play. And so I did, I took tennis lessons in the fall and in the spring last year, and would have taken them again this fall if not for my leg injury. I enjoy playing tennis. I'm not super good at it, but it's fun and I hope to continue. Of course it would probably help if I could get over my anxiety of playing actual opponents in a real game instead of with my tennis instructor, but these are minor details.

Another goal was that I wanted to run a marathon. Sadly, due to my injury this summer that goal is on hold. Once my leg is finally healed I may revisit that goal, or I may need to alter it. Only time will tell.

My third goal was to learn how to sew. I had taken home economics back in middle school and managed to make a mediocre apron. When I was in my late 20s and we bought our first house my mother-in-law attempted to teach me how to make throw pillows. They came out lopsided. My daughter had made comments to me on more than one occasion about my lack of sewing ability. I didn't aspire to be on Project Runway, but it was a matter of redeeming myself. And maybe being able to hem some pants.

I took Sewing I at the local fabric store last spring. It was a six week course and during the second class we learned how to use the sewing machine. Once I put my foot on that peddle and heard the rhythmic sound of the needle going up and down I was hooked. It was so soothing, so relaxing, so therapeutic. I went home and told my husband we were buying a sewing machine. He just rolled his eyes so I took that as a yes and went out and bought one.

I loved Sewing I, where I learned to sew a tote bag and pajama pants so I moved onto Sewing II where I learned to sew a skirt with a zipper. I sewed lots of tote bags and pajama pants at home for my husband and kids. But then summer came and there was no time for sewing so the sewing machine sat forlorn and neglected. I figured I would return to sewing in the winter, after the marathon was over. But then I got injured at the end of July.

At first the injury seemed a small obstacle. By the time August was over and I was still unable to run it became clear that I couldn't do the marathon. I couldn't even participate in the local 5k fun run. I was despondent. And grumpy and emotional and restless. I didn't know what to do with myself. Especially since the injury prevented me from all other physical activity that could take the place of running. But to be honest, nothing can take the place of running so even if I were able I'm not sure I would have been interested.

But then one day I was at the fabric store because I needed a replacement button. They had out a big display of Halloween costume patterns. I had the idea that I would sew my daughter's costume this year. She wanted to be a queen, and they had a beautiful elaborate costume pattern for the perfect dress. This would be my fall project that would distract me from being unable to run. This is where I would channel my energy and time.

After the initial high of my decision wore off I realized I had no clue how to sew this pattern. It was way out of my league. Luckily for me, my previous sewing instructor is a wonderful woman who was very flexible. I asked her if I could sign up for another class but do my own project so she could guide me. Problem solved. I would sew the costume, have a positive outlet, and save some money to boot.

Here is what I have learned. First and foremost, sewing a costume yourself does not save you money. In fact, if you are like me and MUST have that beautiful fabric, or even the middle-of-the-road fabric once you calculate the cost of the beautiful fabric, it will cost you several times over what you would spend on several high-end Pottery Barn Kids costumes. I could have bought her a half dozen queen costumes for the price of this dress.

Secondly, I learned that sewing this costume takes a lot of time. Time I don't have. Running only took up an hour of my day and then I was done. And I didn't even run every day. Sewing the costume takes several hours of my day, that I attempt to squeeze in in between physical therapy and doctor's appointments along with everything else. Like the laundry.

And finally, I discovered that people think I am nuts. In my previous pursuit, when I mentioned training for the marathon the reactions I received ranged from disbelief to admiration. Mostly people said they were glad it wasn't them. I got a lot of good for yous. When I mention sewing people always ask *why*? As though they have wracked their brains and couldn't come up with a single hobby they would like to take up less. As though I had committed a crime and this was my punishment. Because why else would someone take this on? For some reason sewing has a bad rap. Perhaps to a large extent because it is somewhat irrelevant in our times. It would be a lot cheaper to buy this costume at Target. Just like it would be a lot cheaper to buy my tote bags, pajama pants or the skirt I made at Macys. And it is time consuming, and painstaking in the detail. Yet somehow it has been extremely rewarding. And when I see my daughter's face light up as I show her the latest progress I have made on her costume I know that sewing will be a part of my life even after I am back running again.


  1. You just sew your little ass off, girl! (i get comments like, "i wouldn't have pegged you for a scrapbooker" when I tell people about my hobby so you are not alone. Screw 'em,i say!

  2. Shawna, great post.

    I have a hobby too. When people find out what it is, they shake their heads and say, "Too bad she can't write, you know, like a real person." My hobby is blogging.


  3. I LOVE to sew! I made all the window treatments for our first house. In the past few years, however, I have been limited to hemming pants and taking in waists on the kids' pants. Thrilling. It is my dream to do it more someday! But, you're totally right that it isn't cheaper.