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A Mother Can Only Take Sew Much

, , , , , , | Related | November 6, 2022

Housework was divided up between Mum and Dad according to who could do it best. So DIY, electrical work and the like went to Dad, and cooking, needlework and sew on went to Mum. Jobs they could both do equally well were jobs they shared and would do together. And as my sister and I grew older, we were (with much reluctance on our part) conscripted into joining in too. That’s not to say that Mum couldn’t do DIY or my Dad couldn’t cook; it’s just there’s a reason sis and I liked it when Mum got better so Dad didn’t have to do the cooking. 

Anyway, all that hasn’t got much to do with the story, other than to reassure you that when Dad asked Mum to do some sewing, it wasn’t because of some outdated “that’s women’s work” thinking, it was purely because Mum’s skills were of a very high standard, and that was definitely needed here.

For many years, Dad was in the Royal Naval Auxiliary Service. The RNXS was a voluntary organisation under the control of the Royal Navy. Even though it was voluntary, uniforms were provided, and neatness was expected. There were ranks, and progress through the ranks depended on your training. After completion of a particularly difficult training course (something about communication or radar; I forget what), Dad was presented with a badge that required sewing onto the sleeve of his uniform jacket.

Dad was so worried about it going on the sleeve even slightly out of alignment, he asked the highly skilled seamstress that is Mum to sew it on. He donned the jacket, Mum pinned it in place, Dad asked for it to be adjusted a bit, Mum re-pinned it, Dad was happy with it, took the jacket off, and Mum stitched it there. 

As any of you who has ever sewn something, pinning is pretty good, but as you start applying the stitches, the badge can still move a bit. And so when Dad put it back on, he noticed it had moved a little. So he asked Mum to move it a bit. Mum unstitched it, and the whole re-pinning process happened again.

And again.

And again.

I forget exactly how many times Mum sewed that badge on. It was always a little bit to the left, or up a bit, or it wasn’t quite square. With the benefit of about thirty years of hindsight, I’m wondering if Dad was so nervous about giving a bad impression, that he was starting to second guess himself to the point of paranoia? After all, those who wore this badge had a level of seniority, and with that came an expectation of high standards.

Mum wasn’t exactly enthralled with all this extra sewing, but she also wanted to make sure Dad presented himself properly to his superiors at the next meeting. Eventually, Dad was happy with the position, much to Mum’s relief. Dad was relieved too, as he knew the hard work Mum was doing, and I think he felt guilty each time he asked for a repositioning.

When Dad came back after the next meeting, Mum had to know.

Mum: “Was the badge alright?”

Dad: “Er…. yes, but… um… sorry! It was the right height on the sleeve, and it wasn’t twisted, and it was the right distance from the front of the body when my arm was straight down. But…”

Mum: “Yes…?”

Dad: “It was the wrong arm!”

Dad had to sew his uniform after that.

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