And for good reason.

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My mom and I talked on the phone every day this week, as per usual. She’s visiting me this weekend, and as we were chatting yesterday, she asked, “Do I need to bring my sewing machine?” Every time she visits, she asks this question, and I know she asks my sister and brother the very same question when she visits them.

When she asks, I always have a flash of memories—of her, sitting at our dining room table, foot at the ready on the sewing machine pedal, threading the needle, sifting through her bags of threads and spools and ribbons. I also inevitably remember her tomato-shaped pincushion, which I’m certain is older than I am.

My mom is a maker and a doer. She has sewn countless curtains, pillows, and dresses, and she has hemmed innumerable items of clothing for friends and family—all in her spare time. She fashioned every costume I ever wore during a decade of community theatre, including intricate brocade medieval gowns and a spot-on re-creation of the blue dress from Alice in Wonderland (which was every little girl’s dream, including mine).

Whether it was Oliver! the Musical or Fiddler on the Roof, I was always wearing one of my mom’s creations. No time period could stump my mom and her sewing machine. Once, she even fashioned a magic carpet costume for a production of Aladdin, complete with tassel earrings, which, of all the costumes I ever wore, is still my favorite. It was an outfit that could stall even the finest of costumers, but my mom made it happen.  

She always makes it happen. Whatever we need, my brother, sister, and I, she is quick to thread the needle and create something beautiful.

Every time my mom visits my sister, who now has kids of her own, she arrives with the sewing machine in tow. Curtains, much-loved pillows, bunting for birthday parties emblazoned with the names of her grandkids—fabric heirlooms constantly proceed from her sewing machine. She’s always taking on new projects. I don’t know how much my mom actually enjoys sewing, but she has been good at it all my life, and all of hers—she learned it from her mother. I get the feeling that no matter how challenging the project, being able to present someone she loves with something she created is always worth it.

Mothers pass on lots of things to their daughters, from habits to heredity. My mom has taught me to make things, to take a problem and turn it into something beautiful. It has been a long lesson to learn, but she has always been there to remind me.

Once, on the morning before Toga Day at my high school (which, for the uninitiated, is the Friday of Homecoming Week when the seniors inexplicably wear togas to school), my mom found me panicking, standing in front of my mirror, holding a twisted pink bed sheet, tangled in what was supposed to be a toga. After a show of the frustration that only a 17-year-old can muster, we untangled my mess, and my mom calmly folded and tucked and sewed me into a toga that even an ancient Greek or Roman would approve of.

She may have called up long-dormant toga skills from my brother and sister’s high school days, but what I remember most about that morning is that she helped, not only with her sewing machine, but also with hard-won patience and much-needed perspective. She created something beautiful out of a mess. She sees problems and works to fix them. My mom wants to make sure that we—my siblings, her grandchildren, and I—have everything we need to face the world, no matter where we are, and no matter how silly or complicated an outfit we require. That’s why she always brings her sewing machine.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.

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What Mother’s Day stories are you treasuring this year? We would love to hear your memories, so share your funniest or most heartfelt stories about your Southern moms in the comments.

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