A small batch, hearty vegetarian stew
I needed a movie to keep me company as I settled onto the sofa to mend an old pair of Michael’s pajama bottoms. What started as a hole here and there turned into full-on tears spanning the length from the knees to the ankles. Virginia wears these pants almost every day—to school.
I knew I had to finally take charge.
Rather than ask an open-ended question if she wanted me to sew them, in which she usually tells me no, it was time to just ask her for the pajama pants without it being optional anymore.
She told me the reason she hadn’t been letting me sew them is because the last time I mended something, I made it too tight and it no longer felt comfortable. I appreciated her sharing that with me, and promised I would take only the minimal amount of fabric necessary to close the seams. There’s a few options to mend something to preserve the most amount of fabric. Patches on the outside wouldn’t be acceptable for her stylistically, and putting them on the inside would be too irritating—she’s had sensory issues with clothing since she was a baby.
I knew hand sewing them was the safest method, allowing me more control in a way that the sewing machine couldn’t. I also knew this meant a relatively quick fix would now take me an hour or more to mend. My biggest Sunday plan was to make a vegetarian version of beef bourguignon and then mostly relax. Hand sewing is quite meditative, so curling up with a needle, thread, those tattered pajama bottoms and a movie felt like a fine way to spend a low-key Sunday morning.
I wanted something light, something I could pay only half-attention to, if needed, while I concentrated on my sewing. I turned on Netflix, and in my queue was an Australian movie titled Long Story Short. The premise sounded interesting, about a guy who’s life keeps fast forwarding to the next year every few minutes.
In just 10 years, the span of his life covered in the movie, he only really experiences and remembers 30 minutes or so. How often have you found yourself saying there isn’t enough time? Or that you’ll do [insert important thing here] tomorrow?
It was just a movie, and a cheesy one at that, but I still found myself with tears falling onto the pajama bottoms I was sewing as it neared the end. I’ve had the real-life lesson twice now of how short our time here really can be, between my dad’s death at 49 and Michael’s at 51. It’s such a delicate balance between being patient and wanting to just leap since the future is a lovely idea but not always a given.
The way I try to live my life is by the reflection I see every morning in the bathroom mirror. Have I tried my best to live my dreams, even if all that means for now is caring for the seeds I’ve planted to help them bloom? Have I made decisions that align with the life I want to live? Some days just waking up and getting through the day is the most achievable goal. I’m learning to try and accept that—words are easy to say, but living them takes effort and practice.
Balance has been challenging lately—balancing my own needs and wants with those of my children, both in material and emotional ways. Some days the threat of shriveling up like a neglected houseplant feels imminent. This last week was one of those moments. There’s a lot that seems out of reach, at least compared to the timeline with which I want them to happen.
But I can make the choice to take time to hand sew a pair of worn pajama bottoms and be with my thoughts. We often think of time as a gift to give others, but life, and especially motherhood, has taught me it’s also the most generous gift I can give myself.
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