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Mom Spelled Backwards - Punk Rock Mama!

Mother-centric reflections on rivertown life.

I was delighted to hear recently on NPR that my status has been upgraded from House-on-the-Prairie-style Nerd Bucket to Punk Rock Domestic. (Does hearing this on NPR hurt my status? Anyway.)

If you've read my columns here to date, you've probably – rightly – gotten the sense that I'm trapped in time, a time before my time, before your mom's time even.

In Brooklyn, I used to wash my daughter's diapers with a little hand crank contraption in the bathtub and hang them out to dry on our balcony. I'll take a baseball-bat stale baguette and beat it into breadcrumbs. This Christmas I turned all the cards we received into this dimensional ball ornament.

In our age of frantic multi-tasking (driving and texting, oh my!), my handmade habit is not commonly considered the most efficient use of my precious time. Nor would the hours spent justify the money saved. But, I would argue, I'm going to live longer for all these pursuits, so I have, in effect, more time. Making things makes me happy! As for money, I'm not convinced; I hardly spend any. I know for a fact that my curbside furniture finds have saved me a bundle, let alone those daily nickels and dimes adding up.

Well, no need to explain anymore why it's so essential to get back to basics; to understand the process behind things by processing things yourself; to walk vs. drive; to craft gifts rather than purchase. Former rocker and DIYer Heidi Minx on NPR's Soundcheck promoting her new book, Home Rockanomics: 54 Projects and Recipes for Style on the Edge, says I'm cool.

Come to think of it, when I performed my glass-cutting trick at a party once, I did feel pretty bad-ass. And the projects made with my beloved Singer sewing machine, passed down from Great Aunt Grace to my mother-in-law to me, have ranged from a cozy to cover our television cords and a drawstring bag for our Scrabble letters to spider legs for Kaia's first Halloween costume. And spiders are punk! So don't you call me Martha, because I'm not nearly talented enough to make entire baby outfits, or knit sweaters, or weave rugs.

Whereas my punk rock sisters in town are totally that talented. A shout out to Sister Bianca Haglich who runs The Weaving Center out of the old Marymount convent. And to the self-proclaimed hippy Elise Goldschlag, owner of Flying Fingers on Main Street, who told me, "I grew up in a house of benign neglect and lots of yarn."

I can just imagine my own daughter saying the same thing one day – recalling that look of concentration on her mother's face as I tried to unstuck the orange Elmer's Glue cap – replacing "yarn" with any number of words: "paper scraps", "popsicle sticks," "crap."

She'll come around.

Janie Rosman January 25, 2010 at 04:12 PM
Great column! I had a Singer sewing machine complete with foot pedal and bobbin. Memories. And our couch "find" was in the basement; we sat on it (so on one else could take it) until my brother's friends arrived to escort it to its new home.

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