I have been a housewife for 25 years.
When I was a child, I dreamed of various things. I wanted to be a physician- a neurologist or maybe a psychiatrist, then decided no, the sight of blood made me faint . I wanted to be a fashion designer, then decided no, I didn’t like the culture associated with it. I decided be be a housewife, even when the culture of the time (late 1970’s, early ’80’s) said things like “you’ve come a long way, baby” and “I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan”. I still held on to the dream of working in fashion, because I loved it. I loved taking a plain piece of fabric and making it into something that flatters a person, makes them look interesting and fits them well. I still do.
Every now and then I read a website called Secret Regrets. Often on this site, someone’s regret will be about having allowed their dreams to fall to the wayside. I kind of know the feeling, but I also want to shake them, because they will indicate that their age is something I consider very young- 25 or 30. They seem so full of despair because they think they are stuck where they are and will never be able to dream or pursue a passion ever again. Are you ever too old to do what you really want to do?
I am a housewife. I have 4 children and a husband and a big grubby house and too many pets that shed everywhere. My children are mostly grown, save one who’s 13 and he likes to think he’s grown until he doesn’t, and needs a hug. However, none of them require around-the-clock care and they are all capable of feeding themselves. I want to tell young mothers who fear their dreams have all disappeared into diaper pails and minivans that it is temporary. I know how it felt to set everything aside and tend to the needs of others. I know the frustration and angst of forgetting my own desires and aspirations for the sake of other people. I also know it does not have to be forever.
I used to love to sew. I mean really, really love it. I designed and made one-of-a-kind historically accurate clothing for reenactors. I made square dance outfits for husband and wife dance teams. I even made a square dance wedding dress that went to a national dance. I made my own patterns, worked off drawings and photographs and paintings…I KNEW WHAT I WAS DOING and I was very, very good at it.
Then children started happening. And happening, and kept on happening. I loved my kids but there was no time for creating. No one to sew for others because we moved, and moved, and moved. I didn’t resent it, it was the way things were and resentment would just just make me…y’know…resentful. Eventually the babies turned into toddlers and little kids and there was a bit more time for creativity, but no room for sewing. So I cooked, and learned to sculpt small things (which could be done on the dining table, and cleaned up quickly), and garden. Creativity was necessary. The times I was unable to create, I became depressed, sad, and lonely. Terry recognized this and kept me supplied with materials and time (as best he could).
I still wanted to sew, but it was frustrating to go to a fabric store, and wind up spending $50+ on materials to make one blouse I could buy for $15, so that didn’t happen anymore. For many years I didn’t sew at all. It felt like that dream was dead and gone.
Then the kids were (sometimes it seemed suddenly, sometimes it seemed to take forever) grown. Then paying $50 for the stuff to make a blouse was no longer out of the question. I still kind of balk at it, but all it takes is going to the store, even Dillard’s or Belk, where supposedly the Good Stuff is found, and seeing the poor quality of the clothes there, to know that what I make is far, far better and no longer does $50 for a blouse seem ridiculous.
Now. it feels like perhaps a dream is fixing to grow. I have no desire to be a designer. There is no interest inside in having to market a product, hoof it around to stores and hope someone likes it enough to buy it. I don’t want to look for a production facility to make 1000 of them. The logistics of all that do not appeal one single bit.
But…there is a designer. I met him through a friend who is also a designer. My friend makes heirloom children’s clothing and he (the designer) wants her and me to make stuff for him to hoof around to stores and show and take orders. This is kind of exciting.
Now, my typical pessimistic (I call it realistic) self expects that we will make the 3 dresses he wants and that will be the end of it. However, there is potential for more. If he really likes what we do for him, and wants us to continue working for him…where could that go? I have a dream about that (will I get to go to a fashion show and work backstage?), but it’s just a fantasy right now.
The thing is (and I guess this is the point), I am 47 years old, and getting to work on a dream I had 25 years ago, and had to set aside. I thought it was over, packed up in mothballs and forgotten about. However, with the encouragement and cheers of this family I’ve taken care of, the dream seems to be out of mothballs and is hung up in the sunshine to air out and look at. Maybe that is all that will come of it, I don’t know. But there it is.
If I can do it, anyone can.