Staying Sane: Mindless tasks


It’s Sunday night. And my fingers hurt. No, not from too much thumb wrestling. Not from a freak accident when uncapping a beer or uncorking a bottle of wine. Definitely not from anything at the gym (which I have not entered in years). Those that know me will laugh. They will think back on a different period of time and wonder what has happened to the party girl they once knew. For those that do not know me personally, whew.

My fingers hurt because I just finished sewing patches on my son’s gaping whole jeans. He just always wears through the left knee of his jeans, without fail. Several months ago I bought a sewing machine – which was nice in theory. Well, I pulled it out tonight and the kids got all excited about the new toy. Big Bro remembered this device and he wanted to help with the foot petals. I was doing great once I got used to the thing again. I decided to keep up with the patch project, which was making workable patches for later application to the jeans, FIRST. So, I had a nice stack of patches that we both worked on together.

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Afterwards, I even sewed up one of Red’s hand-me-down dresses in about 20 seconds with a fun stitch – in fact, she is sleeping in said dress right now, which makes me feel good.

Anyway, back to the hurt fingers.

With the first pair of jeans, I managed to sew about half the patch on with the sewing machine device. But it was hard. Harder than I remembered. The foot kept falling off the machine and I kept twisting and turning those damn little jeans and kept sitting down, standing up, sitting down, saying “No [Big Bro] , not yet, please don’t put the pedal down yet”, wiping the hair from my brow, losing the damn foot again from the sewing machine, and then finally giving up.

That’s when I decided to do it the old-fashioned way.

I grabbed a needle and a thread, and I began to manually mend and attach the patch to his jeans. It worked out great. After the kids went to bed, I sat on the couch, and completed the project started working again. Three pairs of jeans and four patches later, the project is 75% complete (one pair left to go).

Are the patches perfect? No.
Is the sewing job perfect? No.
Are there strings everywhere? Yes.
Are the patches lopsided? Yes.
Are the jeans bunchy in some places? Yes.
Do I care? No.
Does Big Bro care? No. (I asked him).

I sat on the couch, under a fluffy blanket, and just focused on the stitching. I would stop every now and then to make sure I wasn’t sewing through to the other side (that was a mistake I made during my LAST sewing project, several months ago). I sat, nice and comfy, and got into a rhythm. A mindless task. For a woman with a lot on her mind. The kids in bed, a warm soft blanket, my son’s jeans, some patches, lots of string and one needle. And it was repetitive. And it was time-consuming. But it was RELAXING.

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So now I type here with my right thumb a bit sore at the nail, where I was pushing down on it a bit to hard for a bit too long, but I am happy for the small break, the feeling of accomplishment, the physical “thing” that I fixed, and knowing that Big Bro’s knees will be covered and I don’t have to feel embarrassed anymore. And, knowing that the kids saw me take the time to fix their things — both Big Bro and Red. And Red is sleeping in her dress, and Big Bro wanted to set out his “new” jeans with patches in his clothes pile for tomorrow morning.

So mindless tasks — I’m totally into those for intermittent relaxation.

What do you mamas do out there as mindless tasks where the added benefit is some relaxation?

Have a great week everyone –
– Mama K

Staying Sane: My Sewing Machine and my patches


This seems like a strange topic for me to write about. First of all, I don’t sew. At all. So really I’m not going to write about the sewing machine itself. But from the limited research I did (on amazon, I love that website), I think it is a good one. It has features that many do not. Features that I know I do not need. But you never know, maybe one day I’ll consider myself a bonafide expert sewer. Or, maybe not.

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What this post is really about is the need that I had to accomplish specific, distinct tasks that I perceived as ones that “traditional” mothers should be able to do. For example, in the past when each of my kids were babies, I became a fanatic about making home-made baby food. Even though I was working crazy hours. On weekends I would go into a frenzy finding receipes, going shopping, and making vats of baby food – labeling them, freezing them, storing them for later. This to me was “catching up” on those motherly duties that I thought I was dropping the ball on. I think because I felt guilty. I think because I secretly wanted the time to do the same thing less rushed during the week. To be a mom to my babies. To cook for my babies. As a full-time worker, my weekend time was time I needed to catch up on these sorts of activities to make me feel good about myself and make me feel like I wasn’t being only 1/2 a mother.

Fast forward 5 years. My son is an active BOY and his jeans always take a serious beating. Without fail, he always wears down his jeans at the knee on his right leg. ALL of his jeans wind up this way. So the options are 1) cut them into shorts, 2) ignore the holes; 3) throw them out and buy new ones; 4) iron on a patch; 5) sew a patch that matches the denim of the jeans that he destroyed.

I know the range of options require a range of effort. But even though I was working full time, I decided to take the hardest route. Buy a sewing machine, and I don’t even know HOW many yards of denim (probably enough for 100s or 1,000s of patches), and just start sewing.

  • My first attempt was horrendous. I sewed the pant leg together through the middle. Front and back side. Completely fused together. I just ripped out the stitches and started again.
  • My second attempt was much better. Except you can tell that a Novice sewed the patch. It all looks even and aligned except when you get to one corner, the last corner. I had too much material. So the patch is all bunched up at that one corner. I decided that this error was acceptable and moved on to the second pair of pants.
  • The third attempt was much, much better. It was a lighter pair of pants and I got fancy and turned the denim material over to better match the colors. I sewed the edges of the patch first, and then sewed it to the pants. Scrunching and twisting and turning it around, and in the end the corner seemed OK and honestly it looked pretty good!!!!

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After that, I got wiped out. So after at least 3 hours of setting up the machine, learning the parts, experimenting with practice garments, and then actually trying to sew the patches, I only have two pairs of pants to show for it. I still have a stack of about 5 more pairs. Poor Big Bro is wearing these two pairs of pants non-stop and rotating them and washing them non-stop. My goal over the next few weeks will be to bang out at least two more pairs.

Why do I do this? To feel like a Mom. To feel like I’m fulfilling a need for my son. Sure it would be easier to iron on a patch. I know that. Of course that is the rational thing to do. But I am not rational at these sorts of things. I over-do it. I create projects for myself. I document my children endlessly (that’s probably why I’m still doing this blog). I feel the need to make up for the shortcomings and time that I’ve missed because of having to work full time. I know this sounds silly. I know that it is ridiculous that I have a sewing machine that has 40 stitches pre-programed, and has different “feet” for quilting projects. I know this. It is so ridiculous.

But it makes me feel good that Big Bro has those two pairs of jeans fixed by his mom. And it feels good to have that sewing machine sitting in my house just in case there is another article of clothing to mend, or even if its just the perfect space to start stacking the things that need to be mended.

I’m sure I’m not the only working mom with examples like this. What other “mom” related activities/tasks do you do to make you feel more like a mom???? Please comment! I’m interested to hear and may also replicate your ideas!!!!

Thanks for listening!
– Mama K

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