Monday, November 1, 2010

Basket Case

In our bedroom, next to my side of the bed but against the wall and purposely hidden from sight of others rests my mending basket. This is the container that holds all the projects I cannot deal with at the moment. I bought a bigger, prettier basket just last year…where I can accumulate more stuff needing attention. Interesting, how the sizeable—but attractive—basket actually intrudes into my path on my way to bed in the evening and then again when I get out of bed in the morning.

Before our daughter left for school last Fall, she plowed through my sacred basket in search of her own unmended clothes. Dismissing a silent tinge of violation, I repaired the zipper on a dress. I mended the seam in her jacket. Her leggings, it was determined, would be worn under long blouses hiding the irreparable run. She was happy to have use of these items again; I was thrilled with the newfound motivation to address other neglected projects.

She had loaned me her little black sweater for a summer wedding event. In gratitude, I vowed to get rid of its unsightly pills, evidence of it being worn many times before me. My brilliant idea to smooth the bumpy surface of her sweater involved a disposable leg shaver. But I guess it was too close of a shave when a tiny little hole appeared. In trying harder to make her sweater better, I made it worse.

Damage happens; I must try hard to fix it. That message was imprinted at the age of twelve. I didn’t shrivel up and cry through the wake of damage caused by my mother leaving. Instead, I was driven to do my part…to try hard and make it better. Some insecure walls were built upon on this damaged foundation. Later I would be the other kind of mom who repairs damage instead of causing damage. However, my own children have known their mom as one who can sometimes try too hard at improving many a little black sweater…creating little holes where none existed before.

I would be the other kind of mom who values her children instead of rejecting them. Any one of my adult children can recount how mother bear has invoked her strength of words in defense of her young. Is that not what good mother bears do? Or is that what damaged twelve-year-old daughters do? This new perception is as unusual as what our grandson describes wearing 3-D glasses at Disney World: “They make the pictures come into your eyes.” Into my eyes and into my heart, I can see pictures of a protective maternal love distorted by unmended maternal insecurities. When mother bear wanted to value and protect, her words sometimes spilled over into dishonor. And her cubs have felt rejected.

But back to my mending basket. I was ready to tackle something of my own…a dress unusable in its present state. The dress was originally costly, $150. (However, I paid $30 at a great sale…I mention this why?) Having worn the dress several times, I carefully washed it on a delicate cycle. Ugh…the dress itself shrunk almost three inches in length while the lining had not. Intending to shorten the lining, I knew the dress would still be long enough to hit my knees. I needed to redeem this dress.

I dusted off my serger sewing machine. I quickly discovered that my sight had changed since using this four-spooled machine throughout my daughter’s childhood making outfits for her or curtains for our different homes. I just couldn’t get my eyeballs—even with reading glasses—close enough to weave the imperceptible threads through the intricate places of my serger. I pushed my chair away from the machine that had served me well in the past. The serger and unmended dress remain untouched on our kitchen table for the last several weeks.

Donning my 3D glasses again, the pictures of the little black sweater, my dress and the serger are coming into my eyes. A new thought accompanied my new perspective: I cannot—nor am I personally responsible to—mend all things. Hmm...maybe it's time to purge my mending basket. Buried deep within is the damaged and neglected article I first wore when I was twelve. I think I'll mend itno, on second thought, I’m going discard it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I can so relate to this. I laughed when you said "I bought a bigger, prettier basket just last year" -- that's what I do. Instead of getting rid of the junk, I store it in a more attractive way. De-cluttering my stuff has been a focus this year, but your article puts into perspective the fact that I may be keeping some things around (both tangible things and intangible ones) to try to fix some parts of the past that would be better off discarded. I need to read this again. And think more. Thanks for getting me started.