Sunday, May 13, 2012

My Mom Made My Dreams Come True

Does Walnut's face look like he wants to use an exclamation mark?
I am only the "mother" of one cantankerous, adorable, mercurial, nosy, shedding-monster known as Walnut, and that is enough for now. Seriously, sewing with cats is nothing compared to sewing with small human beings! Even after my short once a week sessions with SHB, I must confess I get annoyed by her even-smaller-human-being brothers, so I know I'm not ready to be a mom anytime soon. I am so impressed by those of you who manage multiple small human beings, especially if they are of the under-five-years-of-age category.

Anyway, after seeing how difficult it is to wrangle three SHBs, I am even more impressed with my own mom. At one point she had a 6 year old, 4 year old, and a newborn, without even the benefit of any family nearby (my extended family was all in Hong Kong). I guess it was a little bit like old hat, though, considering that she had to drop out of primary school in HK to work to help support her family, as well as watch her multiple younger siblings. And somehow, with myself and my brother and sister underfoot, she managed to go back to college and earn her bachelor's degree in her second language, and go on to become a CPA. The crazy thing is that even while she was working that hard on making up for missed opportunities, I don't remember ever feeling neglected or lacking in attention from her in any way. She was always there to make our favorite foods for dinner, to make sure we were doing our Chinese school homework and practicing piano, and even teach us how to sew (we all made bean bags as our first project...filled with red/adzuki beans, of course, because we're azn like that). She laid down the law in terms of making sure we knew our Chinese vocab, but also let us constantly uhh, redecorate the living room...with Batman and Jurassic Park promotional materials, by rearranging all the furniture to make forts, and repaving the carpet with Lego pieces. As I got older, I took to hanging out in the kitchen with her while she made dinner, trying to learn Chinese cooking, but also sorting through feelings about boys. She is a veritable font of common sense and sound advice (even if I sometimes feel contrary about it simply because it is so sensible), and while not ooey-gooey-hugs-and-kisses-my-little-pumpkin, I have so many warm feelings when I think about the ways she showed she loves me.

One of those ways (I promise I'm being relevant to the fact that this is mostly a sewing blog now) that stands out most vividly is the dress she made for me when I was ten. Back then, I loved pink and Disney princesses and ball gowns, and I had dreams of a shiny, ruffly, fancy dress for my elementary school graduation. Well, amidst the busyness of caring for three kids, working, and studying, she somehow found the time to make me the dress of my dreams. And now that I've worked with polyester satin, I know what a fraytastic nightmare it must have been to make those multiple tiers of poly-satin (all of which need to be hemmed!), to attach all the pearl trim, and make sure the insides were finished enough that the dress lasted a whole year. I remember feeling so pretty (not a common feeling for me in those awkward years) as I floated across the stage, feeling all the tiers swish around me as I stopped to get my diploma.

Oh, 90s me, with the awkwardly large glasses and cluelessness regarding how one is supposed to produce a smile!

Now, of course, I look at the pictures of this reflective, dropped-waist (a style that most definitely does not suit me), poofy-shouldered, 90s horror, and I know I will never use it as an inspiration photo for one of those "re-create a favorite childhood outfit" challenges, but I loved it at the time and still remember the wonderful feeling and overwhelming happiness that my mom had made my dreams come true. Thank you, Mom, for your never-tiring efforts and inspiring example. Happy Mother's Day!


  1. I absolutely love this post! What a wonderful mom...that dress must have taken forever to sew and you can tell how much you love it! So fabulous! Thanks for sharing!!

  2. Beautiful piece of writing! Its amazing what our mums did/do for us! I'm 24 and can barely get myself out of bed each morning and when mum was my age she was working and had to walk my pram every morning over to family friends to look after me while she slogged it out to make a living and then go home and cook and clean and look after my dad as well. Our mums are amazing.

    Haha "dropped waist" trend. I had a few outfits like that. My mum also made me heaps of poofy, tulle infested polyester gowns :) and gave me bowl haircuts!

  3. Really sweet post! I definitely had some, um, questionable outfits that I begged my mom to make me-- a purple sequined vest stands out as the worst by far! I appreciate that my mom took the time to make things that she knew I would love, even if she had to have hated my ideas! :)

  4. What a great little blurb about your mom. She sounds so amazing. I don't know if I could handle all of the things you say she did. Superwoman she must have been. And that dress of yours is hideous and wonderful at the same time!

  5. What a lovely post. Make sure your Mom reads it.

  6. I love this- your writing, but also your mom. She sounds like an exemplary woman. :)

    Surely you could riff on the dress... There must be some element you could work with...

  7. Beautiful post, and great dress. No matter what the style - a great outfit is one that makes us feel like a princess.

  8. Aww, that's a beautiful post! I had a lovely mother's day but utterly neglected to call my own mom---I am going to be in trouble!

    As for the handling small human beings, well, it's easier when they're your own. Some weird hormonal stuff kicks in and helps you want to kill them much less. ;)

  9. What an awesome post!! I love reading about great mother-daughhter relationships. I have four SHBs, though one is not so small anymore though she is only 11, and it can be difficult (but NOT impossible) to do what your mom did. Tanit-Isis is right. Something feral takes over where you love them so much, you put up with the less than fun parts.

    I admire you for posting your 90s pics! My childhood inspo post was pretty hysterical, too. But I managed a good dress from the pickings!


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