The two most important people in my life, my husband and daughter, recently went through very important rites of passage. I know that what they really needed during these times was a supportive wife and mom, not one stressed all to heck and back on a project.
I tried to keep this in mind and not stress myself out to heck and back as I showed my support for them… on a project.
Almost a year and a half ago, I started on a cassock for Jared. It was a Christmas present, though I knew there was no way it was going to be finished by Christmas. I suffered through pleats and complicated pockets, got the thing assembled enough that it was convincing as a garment-in-progress, and gave it to him. Then I put it in a box and forgot about it. For a year and a half.
Two holy weeks went by, and I did nothing. But ten days before Jared’s graduation, I pulled the box out. Mom was in town, and I pulled out all the pieces and explained to her how far I was and how far I still had to go. She said it might be possible. Then I said I also had to start on my homework for my June term class that week. She said no way, Jose.
But what am I if not crazy? And since when have I listened to my poor mother?
After Mothers’ Day, I buckled down to work. My Mothers’ day tulips brightening the table, I worked on this cassock every spare moment. Whenever Naomi was asleep, whenever I could talk someone else into playing with her while awake or soothing to sleep, I was working on it.
I asked Jesus to please help me finish this in time for Jared’s graduation, without ruining our lives. Jared worked hard for this degree, and this last semester, between school and work and helping us, the whole thing was kinda miserable. I wanted him to have something special from me to celebrate. I thought Jesus might support such a cause, though I was willing to let it go if it was looking impossible.
It was a good thing Mom was there to hold my hand through the first couple of days, because I’ve forgotten a lot since she taught me how to sew during my sophomore year of homeschooled high school. I probably would have done the collar entirely wrong, and I had no idea what she was trying to explain to me about the hem. I had to look it up in the sewing reference book that I’ve kept around as something to attach my swift to.
Jesus was very kind to me. My sewing machine only acted up a little bit – no scary sparky noises coming from the footpedal, and no completely untenable tension issues. I knew there was no cajoling it to do zig zag stitch, though, so instead of making the buttonholes (there were supposed to be twenty four!!) I put buttons on the outside and snaps on the inside.
It was a near thing. I stayed up ’till half past midnight before graduation (only impressive when you realize I have an eleven-pound alarm clock that gets up anywhere from 6 to 8, and that gets me up at least once almost every night), and the only way I made it was by making an executive decision to only install half of the (twenty four!!) buttons and snap sets. Thirteen looked like plenty when I was done anyway.
Yep, all done. Yeah, it’s missing eleven buttons, and one of the pockets has an issue that makes a corner of it stick out, but the pleats look dashing, the collar is perfect, and the cuffs are downright magnanimous. Doesn’t this look like a man you’d trust with your altar linens? I’m already saying things like “next time I’d do this differently…” but who am I kidding. If knitting is like hiking, sewing is like skydiving, and my nerves can only take so much.
Yeah, okay, it was an accomplishment. I’m pretty proud of myself, though I had a lot of help and hand-holding, and I doubt not a little extra grace.
But no matter how you slice it, it was the work of a week. Jared’s degree was the work of three years of butt-kicking hard work, accompanied almost the entire time by 20 or so hours of work part-time. He’s an obnoxiously smart dude – I’ve read his papers, and there’s no logical way that a guy who has an undergraduate degree in engineering should be able to write that well – but I can tell you, he’s much humbler than I. I’m so proud of him.
Congratulations, honey. Thanks for indulging my desire to be up there with you in fabric form. Thanks for being so many things at once for the sake of our family. It was a lot of work – and it paved the way for a lot more work in front of us. But this is an accomplishment worth celebrating, for the greater glory of God. I love you.