Have you ever had a time where something makes you think back to something you did as a child, that makes you want to call one of your parents and apologize for something you didn't even think about back then, but you now realize was a pretty big deal?
My mom made my dress for my seventh grade graduation from elementary school. (My elementary school went through seventh grade.) I LOVED this dress. It was absolutely PERFECT. While my friends went to the Gunnysaks outlet in San Francisco to pick out their dresses, my mom MADE mine. I actually truly did appreciate it...even at the time. I hope that I expressed my gratitude for it back then because it really meant so much to me.
This made me want to make a dress for Caitlin's graduation. I have been working on it for MONTHS. From picking out the perfect pattern, to going from store to store to store, trying to find the perfect fabric that I knew she would absolutely LOVE. Finally, I had the pattern and the material. The pattern didn't come in her size, so I spent quite a while transferring the pattern to different paper, making the proportions right, making sure it would all fit together and fit her. I cut out the fabric...the outer, the lining, the underskirt, etc. For WEEKS, I've been staying up until 2 or 3 in the morning, cutting, sewing, ripping seams, sewing again, all to make it perfect. This has all done without her knowledge because I just KNEW she was going to love it and I wanted it to be a surprise.
Graduation is Wednesday. She came to me today, frantic because we HAD to go to the mall to buy her a dress for graduation because graduation is NEXT WEEK and she just HAS to find the perfect dress, and she can't believe we've been putting it off for so long because now she probably won't be able to find the PERFECT dress. I told her not to worry, that I have been making her dress without her knowing, so she HAS a dress and I know she's just going to love it. Her response? "I want to buy a dress. I hope you don't mind," then she just walked away. "I hope you don't mind." Of course I don't mind. That doesn't make it any less heartbreaking. Here, I thought I was doing something that she would love. SO much thought, time, energy and love has gone into this dress, and without even looking at it, she dismisses it and says she doesn't want it.
As I sat in my bedroom, holding her dress, crying because I was so disappointed, I thought back to how many times I must have done this to my own mom, without even realizing it. I thought about the quillow that she made me. It was SO perfect for me. The front was made out of a music themed fabric. The back was stitched to the front in the design of a treble clef, and other musical symbols. I don't think I appreciated it back then as much as I do now. SO much time, thought, love and effort must have gone into that quillow and I probably gave her no more than a "Thanks, Mom!" and it probably didn't sound very sincere.
One year (1992, so I was 13) I decided I was going to make a quilt as my Young Women's in Excellence project. I made a quilt made out of 6"x6" jean squares. I cut out all of the squares, arranged them how I wanted the quilt made, sewed all the squares together. This took FOREVER. The night before I was supposed to be finished, I was so tired that I just couldn't finish. I still had to add the batting, sew on the back, then tie it up. I didn't even know HOW to put a back on a quilt. I went to bed, disappointed because I wasn't going to be able to finish because it was so late and I was so tired. I woke up in the morning, to the quilt completely finished, only needing me to tie it up. I don't even know if I said thank you. I didn't think about how late my mom must have stayed up, if she even went to bed that night, finishing MY project for me because she knew how badly I wanted to display it that next night. I remember thinking it was nice that my mom did that for me, but I didn't realize just how big of a deal it was and how hard she must have worked that night to do that for me.
One Christmas, I was really hoping for money as my big gift. When I got my big gift, I could tell it wasn't money. It was a box that held something. I opened it up, and in it was this: (Well, something similar to it...I don't have a picture of the exact one)
I was disappointed. I really wanted money. I'm sure the disappointment showed on my face and could be heard in my voice. What a spoiled little brat! I know my mom must have spent so much time thinking of the perfect gift for me. I had been taking German classes in school for years and I LOVED that class. Honestly, it WAS the perfect gift for me. I just didn't know it at the time. I still have that carousel. I put it up in my house every Christmas. It is the best gift I have ever received. Not only does it remind me of a class I loved so much, but it reminds me of just how well my mom knew me and that, even when I was being a self centered brat, my mom loved me and did so much to make me happy.
When I was 18, I called my mom and told her I was pregnant, was getting kicked out of college, and was going to get married. I know I broke her heart. For the next few months, she did her best to talk me out of getting married. She wanted so much more for me. She wanted me to finish college. She wanted me to live life more. She wanted me to at least wait until I knew this boy better. I wasn't hearing any of it. I loved him. I was pregnant. I was getting married...end of story. Even though I made her so angry/hurt/sad, when I asked her if she would make my wedding dress for me, without hesitation, she said she would. I found a pattern that was a little like the dress I wanted, gave it to her and told her, "This is kinda what I want, but I want the sleeves to look like this, the bodice to look like this," etc. etc. etc. She was angry with me. She was sad for me. Yet, she took my ideas and made the wedding dress I had been dreaming of. It was perfect. I know that had to have been hard for her. Not only because she basically had to create this dress from scratch, but because she knew she was making this dress for a wedding she didn't want to happen. She did it, though, and it was perfect...because she loves me. I know I didn't appreciate how difficult it must have been to make that dress for me. To me, she knew how to sew. She had made my seventh grade graduation dress. She had made my Senior Ball gown (yet another thing I probably wasn't anywhere near as appreciate of as I should have been). So, to me, it wasn't that big of a deal for my mom to make my wedding dress. It was, though, and I know that now. I just wish I had realized it then and been as appreciate as I should have been.
So, Mom, if you're reading this, I'm sorry for all of the times you put so much effort into doing something for me, only to have me not appreciate it. Thank you so much for doing all of those things that I remember and appreciate so much more now than I did back then. Thank you for all of the things you did that went completely unnoticed, but made my childhood one that I look back on and wonder how on earth I'm possibly going to be as good of a mom as you are.