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I am a mother, a new grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


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Friday, November 27, 2009

Babysitting again after a 40 year break

That's right, the kids are out and I am on duty sitting at DD's dining table listening for baby sounds. They're at a concert, the first time they have gone out since Miss Scarlett was born.
Babysitting hasn't changed, although the last time I did it I charged 35 cents and hour and 50 after midnight and this time its on the house. I can tell it will be the same, look around at someone's house, eat the snack they have left and try to keep awake until that you can hear that car in the drive way. I have different things on my mind though. In those days I used to spend the quiet time away from my busy and noisy home thinking about my life and where it was going to go, generally full of hopes and worries about boyfriends and jobs and school and money and where I was going to find a place in the world for myself and if, in fact, I was going to find one, or the right one for me. This time out I am thinking the same things but having these thoughts on behalf of kids who aren't settled yet, not like this one here with the nice husband and beautiful baby. Of course my daughter worries too much - if the baby only wants to sleep during the day in her arms does that mean she is spoiled, but if she cries will she have attachment issues. Yesterday Miss S. fussed for a time between 5-7 does that mean she will do that every night? I keep telling her don't worry it all goes away and resolves itself, they all turn out fine, don't waste these precious years worrying it away, enjoy what you can while you have it.

Advice this old mother should apply to her 20 something sons who are lovely boys, just not settled, just like Miss S isn't between 5-7.

My babysitting days changed how I looked at sewing.

In the neighbourhood I was a teenager in there happened to be a colony of Swedish executives all over here working for a Swedish company and my sister and I were their on -call sitters. To us they introduced us to an exotic world. For a start they left us weird snacks, a long way from Mom's tuna casserole and Heinz soup can cuisine. Caviar on rye bread, raspberry whips and something called Jonson's temptation for dinners we sometimes ate with the kids, a sort of scalloped potato with tons of anchovies mixed in - like my mom would ever make that.

But most of all these Swedish mothers did non-stop handiwork and sewing. There were botanical cross stitches on the wall, bright living room curtains that they actually changed every season, getting brighter as the days got darker, and Bernina machines set up in the corners of kitchens and Burda magazines left on the kitchen tables for me to look at. One lady I sat for, Lillamore, had a different dress on every time I saw her and many of them, linen tent dress things, very 60s style, had often plackets of machine embroidery on them.

It was my first exposure to women who sewed recreationally, and constantly. It legitimized sewing to me as a style of living not something you did when the money was tight, or the child too large for store-bought clothes or because it was Hallowe'en.

I used to sit in these houses waiting for these couples to come home and think to myself that I am going to be like this when I have my own life. I am going to handcraft my own place and make my own clothes and have colour and have style. I am going to change my curtains with the seasons, and spend my time cross-country skiing and rolling smoked salmon to put on flatbread with dill sprigs, and I am going to buy Burda magazines and sew. Sew all the time.


RuthieK said...

What a lovely story! You have a great gift :D

Carla said...

Love this!