I spent last night at my sewing class. This time, instead of something to sew, I brought my computer. I have been so backlogged with things to do that I needed to clear them out before I could relax enough to sew. So, I wrote my Boston Cream Pie Cake blog post last night and opened up my mail and typed some forms that I promised for my husband. I have not been able to do these things at home because there is just so much to do there that I keep prioritizing my things to the bottom of the list. But at my sewing class, I could put my things first. And I had a bunch of wonderful friends with me to keep me entertained, and awake.
One of my friends, Ann, just got back from 2 weeks working with FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) in Northern New Jersey. Normally Ann is a cafeteria worker at a local elementary school. By her own admission, she does not make a lot of money. When FEMA approached her church to ask for volunteers to help the thousands of people affected by Hurricane Sandy, she took a two week leave from her school job to go.
She told me a story last night about how a man came into the building where she was working and went around to each of the tables and yelled at the people sitting there that he needed this or that. Apparently, he did this every day, and after a while, the people who were working there stopped listening to him. Ann was listening to this and started writing down what he wanted. She realized he was asking questions of the wrong people. So, she made a list and by the time he got to her table to yell at her, she got him to calm down enough so she could help him. Then they started going over the list that Ann wrote down, addressing each of the concerns. And one by one, the man saw that she understood what he needed and he said “yes, that is right” over and over to each of the concerns she had written down. She answered every concern with the information he needed. And she took him with her to find the right person to answer when she did not know the answer herself.
This man, who had been coming in every day to yell and complain, finally got some help due to Ann’s actions. Those of us listening to this story were amazed at her ability to help and when she said that FEMA asked her to be on the call list for the future, we were so proud of her. This is truly the job she was meant to have.
But you know what she said to us after we congratulated her? She said she felt selfish for having worked with FEMA. Selfish? “How is that possible”, we asked. And through tears, she said she did it for all the wrong reasons. She said the pay was better than her current job, and she knew she would have time alone by herself, and would have time to sew, one of her passions. We were dumbfounded that she would say that she was selfish, given what she had accomplished. I thought, who cares what she was thinking beforehand, she ended up doing and learning something about herself and helping another person who could not thank her enough. He will never forget her.
This got me thinking about myself and how I have been concerned about leaving my mark on my children. I think a lot about what I can teach them about myself. They know I like to sew and bake. The quilts I make for them have nice labels on the back because I think that years from now, when I am not around anymore, I want someone to know that I was around, and I made a quilt for my daughter or son. I made them a quilt when they turned 2, and now I am making them a quilt for their 5th birthday. I will probably do two more before they go to college.
And I bake with my kids because I want them to be able to say that their mom taught them to bake, even though I was teaching myself at the same time. My daughter really likes helping me bake and cook. She pulls her step stool up to the counter all the time and asks if she can help me. I usually give her the stirring detail. She is dying to crack an egg. I told her she has to be a little older to do that. : ) And her teachers in school know that she is a little baker. One day in school (she is in pre-K), when the class was making lemon bars, she asked the teachers if they had a Microplaner available to zest the lemon. They got a laugh out of that one.
I might be a little too preoccupied with trying to leave my mark on my children. I probably don’t really have to do anything but be a good mother and they will remember a good quality about me. But the quilting and baking make me a happier person, and I do like to teach, so this is probably perfect for me. And if I am leaving my mark on my children by doing it, then that is even better.
p.s. I made the chocolate tart with fresh raspberries last summer. I got the recipe from Baking from My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan. It was yummy!