Last weekend I learned how to sew on a button.
All it took was being quarantined for over a month to learn this essential skill.
My husband has been teaching weekly sewing classes to our almost seven-year-old, and I have been humbly attending as a fellow student. Each Sunday, we haul a pile of practice garments, mini spools of thread in a rainbow of colors, an assortment of buttons, and my largely unused sewing kit to our deck and settle in to work.
When I first successfully stitched a seam and sewed on a button, I was so proud of myself. But I was also embarrassed. Not because my husband was the one who taught me or because I should have known how to do it because I am a girl (insert eyeroll). No, I was embarrassed because I felt as though I let my mother and both my grandmothers down. (I know my mom is going to read this, and she will be quick to say that is not true–because she’s wonderful like that–but that’s how I felt, Mom.)
It’s not as though the opportunity to learn never presented itself; my mom has attempted to teach me to sew multiple times throughout the years. But for whatever reason, the sewing lessons never stuck. Maybe it’s because it was just faster and easier for my mom to sew on a button herself, and for me to let her.
At the time, I was glad that my mom never pushed me to learn sewing skills because apparently I had better things to do with my time. But now, as an adult, I wish that I had tried a little harder. I wish I had recognized an important life skill when I saw it.
When I thanked my husband for (finally) teaching me some basic sewing skills, I bemoaned my lack of expertise in any useful and practical tasks. He was quick to reassure me of things that I am good at and how our abilities complement one another…earning another Husband Merit Badge that afternoon. But it got me thinking: what skills do I possess that I want to pass along to my children?
I did pay attention during baking lessons, so I feel confident that I can pass along my ability to make my mom’s cinnamon rolls or my grandma’s Christmas bread.
And I always send thank you notes, something I am already trying to instill in my girls.
But what else do I deem an essential skill?
My husband is the one with all the practical skills. He can fix things, grow vegetables, tie knots…he’s pretty much a jack of all trades. Some of these skills were taught by his parents or at school (I missed out on any kind of home economics classes), but most he acquired by necessity. In fact, that is how he learned how to sew. Years ago, when he was deployed with the Army, he had to sew all the patches on his uniform–it wasn’t like there was anyone else to do it in the middle of the desert.