Thursday, September 3, 2009

One year ago today... life changed a lot.  My family moved to Ontario, Canada and my regular ol' husband became "the Preacher."  So many things to adjust to:  living in a different country (we're US citizens), a spouse's new career, being away from family and friends, becoming a full-time SAHM, meeting lots of new people, etc.

I think this has been the toughest year of my life.  We have been confirmed in our call here and God has provided everything we need.  But it hasn't been easy.

This has also been the most productive sewing year of my life.  This is no coincidence.  Sewing has really helped me cope with all the changes in many ways:

1.  I spend most evenings alone (after the kids are in bed).  The Preacher has a lot of meetings or work to finish in his office.  This is when I do most of my sewing.  I am thankful that I have something to do that I enjoy during these hours.  I find my sewing machine to be good company.

2.  The language barrier between Canada and the USA is pretty minimal, but every new region has colloquial language (and spelling!) that takes some figuring out and getting used to - beyond, of course, the "eh" that everyone associates with Canada.  Along the same lines, we have had to deal with international banking, immigration issues, and the like that have been totally new and unfamiliar.  My sewing patterns, books, and favorite websites, on the other hand, have been comfortingly familiar.  I know this language and these processes.

3.  I find one of the hardest things about moving is losing people that share your history.  I often long to just sit and chat with someone who has known me and my life for a long time.  Getting to really know people is hard work for me and it takes a long time.  But, my sewing machines have made the last few moves with me and I know them.  I know just where the tension dial needs to be set.  I know exactly where the serger thread will likely break during re-threading.  It's taken time to learn these things.  I haven't given my machines names like some people have, but often they do feel like old friends.

4.  Sewing has helped me clothe my family.  Shopping is kind of complicated for me.  Either I take three little kids along with me - that sounds fun, eh?  Or I hire a babysitter and go solo - that sounds expensive and I haven't even bought anything yet.  Add in the time to get used to the new and foreign stores and learn where to shop and it just seems like a very long and costly process.  I sew pretty much all of my own clothes and a lot of my kids' clothes (I have bothered to become familiar with some second-hand stores).

5.  Those of you that have done (or are doing) the SAHM gig know that it can be rather monotonous and understimulating.  I love my kids dearly and am grateful for the time that I get to spend with them while they are little.  However, some days it feels like all I do is clean up the kitchen, change diapers, help pick up toys, etc only to do all the same things again (and again and again) just a short time later.  Progress seems invisible.  When I sew I make forward progress and have something to show for my time.  Something about me needs this sense of accomplishment.

I've always loved sewing, but I've been particularly grateful for this skill and interest that I have in the past year.  Hopefully the coming year is easier, but still with good sewing output.


  1. what a wonderful post! i am just returning to sewing and brushing off my rusty beginner skills. i so enjoy reading others who are more proficient in their skills. and as a christian, i'm rejoicing with you and your husband in your calling in canada. thank you for sharing

  2. Great post, Renee! I loved your honesty and have also been very inspired by your ability to just "get things done" in the sewing world. It has made me want to work harder at carving space to create and be musical.

  3. Oh, me! I can really understand how you feel, though I don't have children. I have been home here by myself for a little over a year--it has to do with not very successful hopes to return to and finish my degree.

    "Solitude is dangerous to reason, without being favorable to virtue..." Samuel Johnson. Some days I really feel that quote. But, it sounds like you are really keeping on keeping on, as they say, so GOOD for you!

  4. I have really appreciated lurking on your journey with you. Your creations are so nice, wearable, and well-done. I know I don't have history with you, but I've enjoyed your writing and especially your sense of humor over the past year. Yeah, you are one of my bookmarks. I'm just curious, though. Are you from West Michigan? I ask because you mention Field's Fabrics, and I go to the one in Kentwood.

  5. Great post. I can relate on the sahm feelings. It is completely what I want and yet yearn to fulfill my other side (engineer). I feel lucky everyday that my children are being raised by me with our family values. Careers can come later, kids are now....for just a short time....and very important. Sewing lets you be creative and use your cognitive side and as a bonus you get great clothes! And you are one very talented lady!

  6. First off, I love the jumper and blouse you made for your daughter. The details are wonderful!

    I enjoyed this post. I'm also a SAHM and know what you mean about sewing giving you a sense of accomplishment when so much else of what we do seems like treading water...lots of effort without getting anywhere.

  7. Being a SAHM can be really isolating, and I can't even imagine how hard it has been being in a new country and trying to adjust to that... I've often thought that I wish I had known about all of these blogs when I was a SAHM - I would have felt so much more connected... Believe me - I know it seems like a sea of days ahead of you filled with nothing but diapers, laundry and cooking, but it comes to an end all too soon and very abruptly... It's such a short time that we have our kids with us - how lucky we are to get to spend it with them... And, how lucky we are to have found a "community" of similar people to share it all with!

  8. Renee - I'm glad that you have something that comforts you, inspires you and helps you remain the wonderful woman that you are! Raising children is a hard job and my hat is off to you for being there for your children and your spouse while still incorporating something you love into your daily life!

  9. I really like this post. You found the right words to describe how many of us SAHMs feel. I moved to the US two years ago and had to make the transition to another culture and language. So believe me, I know how that feels. I have two kids and a soldier husband who is gone most of the time, so my days are are just as interesting as yours.
    My Mom used to sew her own clothes but when I was a child I had no patience to learn the basics of sewing. However one day I purchased an old and cheap sewing machine from a pawn shop with the intention to teach myself how to sew. The old sewing machine was replaced with a new one a little later. My husband who understood the emotional value of having a sewing machine as a friend in long and lonely evenings bought me one. I am making progress but I am far from sewing clothes the way you do. It seems easy on the front of the patterns but the reality is that I am still missing sewing vocabulary. It's definitly not helpful especially because I am only a beginner with limited knowledge of sewing. I am getting there slowly. Reading sewing books and sewing blogs, watching sewing tv shows definitly helps me. I have been visiting your blog for a while now and I really like it. It's an inspiration for someone like me.

  10. Hi Renee,
    I would just like to be there to hug you today, and as your aunt, I'd be entitled. I love following your blog and seeing what is happening in your world. I can relate to you woman to woman, too, because I stayed at home with your cousins for a lot of years, and I know that does require using some creative juices to keep from being bored silly. Kids are entertaining, and yours are especially so, but it doesn't mean Mom doesn't need some time for herself.
    I'm especially thrilled that you picked up a little of my thrift-store gene. Way to go!! Lots of love to you and your family. Your extended family loves you and admires you more than you can possibly imagine! Aunt Judy