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My mother, born in the 1920's, was the perfect '50s housewife... and, she thought that was
just what I would be also.

Mother’s Day

441 words


What my mother did not intend to teach me
by Dianne Roth


Today is Mother’s Day and my mother’s birthday is this Wednesday. It seems like a good time to reflect on what my mother never intended to teach me.

One of the things I learned from my mother was how to sew. Those lessons included how to pick fabric, choose a pattern, use the pattern to cut the fabric, use a sewing machine to put in zippers (perfectly!), and to stitch the fabric together to make a garment that is attractive, well fitting, and well constructed.

Those are good skills to have. In fact, when I built my deck about 15 years ago, I went to the lumberyard and worked with their deck expert to order the materials. When he asked me how detailed to make the directions for each step, I replied, “I know how to sew. This is just a different medium with different tools.”

The deck turned out fine!

My mother also taught me how to knit. I learned how to cast on, how to make the knit and purl stitches, how to hold the needles, how to “throw” the yarn, and how to pick up dropped stitches, and to cast off. At first, each stitch was laborious. My hands would cramp, the stitches were too tight or too loose. A row of stitches would take me an hour.

Miraculously, as hard as each stitch was, it was added to all the stitches that were already on the needle. And, as long as it took to finish each row, it was completed upon the rows that came before. Slowly, stitches added to stitches, rows built upon rows, and I finished a lovely green sweater vest.

Those are good skills as well. Years later, I decided to take up swimming for exercise. I got into the water, but could not make it to the end of the pool without holding onto the rope or the side of the pool. I had to learn how to breathe, kick, and stroke. My legs and shoulders would cramp and I would gulp down quarts of pool water.

But, over time, believing that stroke upon stroke and lap after lap added up, I was able to swim a mile.

I know my mother really never intended for me to become proficient with power tools or to sweat and develop strong muscles. She thought both were quite un-lady-like.

And, while I also know she did not have choices beyond the womanly arts, she inadvertently gave me the skills to tackle construction projects, work on my car, climb mountains, master the computer, solder copper trellises, and backpack in the woods.

In gratitude - Happy Mother’s Day


Dianne Roth is a teacher, mother, grandmother, and freelance writer. She lives in Oregon.



Last updated on October 8, 2012