A Birthday Wish


Six hours of labor and here it is. Yet, it is not enough. I could make a thousand adjustments to render my mother’s birthday picture perfect. Yet, it is not enough.

I remember the final project for my eighth grade Home Economics class. We had to sew a novelty pillow. I chose the roller-skate pattern, since I fancied myself a skater on par with Olivia Newton John (Xanadu!).

Mom took me to Surplus City, the biggest fabric store in town.   The silent warehouse smelled of cotton and dust.  Expanses of colors, patterns and textures called for long and deliberate perusal.  Mom understood this would be a good start to a difficult project.

We spent an eternity at the store searching through bolts and bins. I chose a soft white flannel with bright red polka-dots. Mom wisely purchased double the fabric. This came in handy after my first pillow turned out puckered and misshapen.

Each iteration found a new way to be disagreeable and un-roller skate like. I complained about the noise in the school sewing room. The other girls were too chatty and I could not concentrate.  I never got to use the same machine twice.  Mom suggested I take my project home to work on.

Even at home I had trouble. I tried so hard, but by brain seemed unable to communicate with my hands.  My pillow contrasted poorly with the plump and pretty model roller skate.

Anxious and overwrought, I didn’t sleep the night before my pillow was due. Mom let me take the day off of school to rework my project. Even with her help, my roller skate drooped unevenly.  We lamented that home economics was a mandatory class for girls. We further lamented that we were not a family of sewers.

Later, we laughed when the teacher barely glanced at my project and gave me an “A.” The teacher appreciated my frustration.  She said, “The roller skate is the hardest one. Next year, we will take it off the project list.” Next year, girls could take shop, too.

Late in the eve of my mother’s birthday, I found myself maniacally toiling over her birthday greeting. I stopped and asked myself if the perfect application of light and shadow mattered so much. My mom does not grade me, she knows I love her.

I still feel the need to craft Mom some perfect thing. I need to express my gratitude for her never-ending patience and wisdom. But Mom, like the teacher, will see the love behind the work and accept me, imperfect me.

I love you Mom, Happy Birthday.

Digital elements by Dawn Inkskip.

8 thoughts on “A Birthday Wish

  1. Happy Birthday to your mom!! What a great picture!

    Wow! Your story sounds very familiar to my attempt on my last home economics project. A black-and-white Polk-a-dot straight line dress. It was only two sides that needed to be sewn together. I could not do it. My mom is a wonderful seamstress, but I did not receive the ability to do that. My hands will not cooperate with my head a lot of times! However, I did really well in wood shop…go figure??

    “fancied myself a skater on par with Olivia Newton John (Xanadu!)” ME too! I was kind of confused by the movie, but I loved skating and Olivia.I was at the skating rink on Friday and Sat. afternoons as much as I could be.

    1. Angel,

      Thank you for the birthday wishes! I am glad you liked the picture. It’s her 1976 passport photo!

      Sewing is a bear. I think some of us just have other gifts! You mention an iteresting point–that shop was okay for you. Me too! I loved shop. I think that sewing is an art of precision and dexterity, whereas shop was more straightforward. The vigor of grinding, hammering and shaving was easier that feeding tiny fingerful of materials to a zippy machine.

      And, OMG! I was a skating rink nerd! I spent Fridays and Saturdays at our rink. One of my proudest adolescent moments was roller skating backwards. Yay roller skates!

  2. Beautiful Birthday wishes and some lovely memories.
    Happy Birthday to you Mom.
    Sewing was always my thing, my Nan taught me very young.
    She was a seamstress and from a long line of master tailors.
    Sewing became my trade. Like you though I hated the girls talking in needlework at school.
    It was one of the few lessons I actually enjoyed going to, but I couldn’t stand all the chatting.
    Now I know why…LOL
    Great post, thanks for sharing.
    Love and hugs.
    Lisa. xx 🙂

    1. Thank you very much for the well-wishes!

      I am impressed that you can sew. I wonder if it is a natural gift or if you can be taught if you are motor-skill impaired?

      If your family hosts master tailors, I suspect that you might have an extra gift in your mental goodie bag.

      My Grandmother lover to embroider. Her creations seemed more magical than paintings, since the floss was less forgiving than pigment. So many tiny bits of mastery come in to play–knots, stitches, colors, texture and patterns.

      Thank you for stopping by!

  3. Dear Lori, February 17 was also my beloved dad’s birthday… as you say, the need to express gratitude for the most special of relationships continues even when those departed souls are no longer with us. I so enjoy reading your blog; you are a gifted writer and reading your posts allows me to stay abreast of Tyoma and his life since his time with me. Thank you for a great read again and again… xo, Miss Jerri

    1. Dear Jerri,

      Thank you so much for the heartfelt comment and words of encouragement. I am touched that you keep up with us. Tyoma would not be the wonderful person he is today without your touch. He has moments of clarity and sweetness that dazzle us. In that time he shows us all you taught him–greeting and actions I would have not thought to instill.

      I am pleased that you visit us, and hope to see you soon.


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