Fierce

I Never Wanted To Be Like My Mom But Our Time Sewing Saved Our Relationship And I Am So Grateful

I am sitting in the back yard of our house in Menlo Park with my mom. She is teaching me to hand sew. The sun feels warm on the top of my head of long dark hair, and I am happy. I am wearing a red blouse and my favorite patchwork print skirt. The grass is scratchy and cool on my bare legs. I hold the sewing project on my lap, push the needle in and out of the fabric to make tiny stitches just like Mom taught me, and she is chatting now with our roommate Janet. She is not looking at me trusts me with my project. I feel big, like one of the grownups, doing what they do.

As I sew, nearing the end of the row of stitches, I can feel the sun feels hotter on my head, and beads of sweat have formed on the tip of my nose. Then I lift the fabric to show my mom my work. My whole skirt comes with it. I have sewn the hem of my pillowcase project right onto my favorite skirt. I start to cry.

Mom laughs, throwing her head back a bit, but righting herself quick when she realizes I’m upset about my skirt.

“Oh, Michelle, don’t cry. Look, we can get that out.” She digs in her tin of sewing supplies and pulls out a seam ripper.

Photo provided by Michelle Cruz Gonzales

I sit in my blouse and underwear watching as she she pulls each stitch one-by-one, freeing my favorite skirt from the pillow case fabric.

                                                                        ***

My mom learned to sew from her abuelita, my great grandmother Lupe from Veracruz, and from her own mom too. Grandma Lupe sewed flamenco dancer costumes, doll clothes, mended her own clothes; she could sew anything, and passed this skill onto my mother who naturally wanted to pass the skill on to me. Only, I didn’t want to sew. I wanted to play in my punk band with my girlfriends instead.

My first memories of sewing with my mom are good ones, but as I grew older, and began developing my own interests, they all seemed opposite of sitting behind a sewing machine, and in high school I began associating sewing with dark days in high school, her in her full-blown addiction behind a sewing machine all day and all night for two or three days in a row, and me doing everything I could to get away from it all. Like many women, I have resisted being like my mom, even though I know very well that I sound like her, laugh loud like her, and I am wild like her too. For so many years of trying to be my own person, I rejected the things she is best at because I associated with dark times in high school.

As an adult, I’ve realized that sewing, which she also does for a living, is to her, like writing is to me, the thing that defines her, one of the things that she is best at.

Being taught to hand sew at the age of three, the memory of being close to my mom then is something that I have always cherished, and knowing how to sew came in handy many times over the years. But for most of my life, I never cared to learn to sew on a machine or make things from patterns. Even though Mom made sure that I have always had a machine in my house, I had many chances to learn, but I was afraid of the needle, all the loops, and thread, and the pounding foot. In my twenties, I owned a number of sewing machines given to me by mom, sewing machines that I never used that my mom thought were as necessary as a plunger or vacuum. I feared these sewing machines, and they collected dust until Mom came to visit and I needed something hemmed: a pair of jeans, a second-hand dress.  I left the cute blue sewing machine, which she claimed was easy to use, behind in the attic of a house I rented in my twenties. She took back the heavy black Singer because I had complained it smelled like it was on fire and because she knew it was too complicated for me to operate on my own.

Then ten years ago, the stakes higher than ever before, with me, her oldest daughter now in her forties, she bought me a new current model machine. She really hadn’t given up on the idea of passing this craft on to one of her children, or of me, the family academic (good with my brain), learning to operate a machine, learning to sew.

Photo provided by author

When I began to use the machine, I started on easy projects, sewing rick rack on tea towels with her help, and then altering old clothes, attaching an old skirt with the stretched-out elastic to an old top to make a dress. As I sewed more, I surprised myself by how much I already knew. I guess, since I had seen my mom at her sewing machine so often over a ten year period before moving away from home, and listened to her talk out loud about what she was working on, that I had by osmosis drawn some of the knowledge into my own body where it lay dormant but ready for access when needed. And whenever I sit down at the sewing machine, I feel like my mom, the same flick of the wrist when I drop the foot lever down, the snip, snip, sound of my scissors cutting the thread.

And each time I sit down behind my sewing machine, I learn something new about mom and understand why she has wanted me to learn all these years. I have learned how she sees the world, how it looks from over the top of a sewing machine, the details she sees when she eyes beautiful fabric and imagines how it might look on an apron, the cut of a dress, a delicate lace hem. I see her as I reach up to roll the wheel forward by hand to back the needle up and out of the thread so I can cut it and move onto the next area in need of stitching. I can feel her in my breath when exhale and flick the foot lever down so it will hold the fabric in place. I know what it’s like to feel the hum of the sewing machine motor under my hands, the rush of excitement for the moment I can pull the work from the machine and see how it turned out, knowing whether my mom would approve or disapprove, her standards for good work as my guide.

And I know what it feels like to create something tangible with my own hands, to take many parts and pieces and put them together, and the ways in which creating in this way is not unlike writing–crafting living documents of our lives.

Our relationship has changed a lot of over the years, but I know my mom has sometimes has a hard time relating to me, and I know she feels I haven’t always seen her the way that she sees herself. She didn’t finish high school and she had me when she was eighteen. I graduated high school, went to college, traveled, seen places she’s only dreamed of seeing, waited until I was in my thirties to have a child, and I only had one. 

Still, mothers want to pass something on and like all mothers, my mom wants to be understood.  And I have always thought I could understand her and why she did the hard things that she did all those years, but maybe she was right. I hadn’t really known her, not in the way she wanted to be known, because I didn’t practice or care to practice the craft, the art form that that defines her, the thing that distinguishes her from others, the thing that she is best at, the thing in which she excels. But I understand it now, how what she does feels, how it works, the time it takes, the patience (something she is often associated with), and the practice and the talent that it takes to be really, really good. I won’t ever sew as beautifully or as fluently as she does, and that’s not my aim, but I do feel closer to her for learning to sew, and I know now that’s all she ever wanted.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Cardi B Explains Why She Turned Off ‘WAP’ When Her Daughter Walked Into the Room: ‘I Don’t Make Music For Kids’

Entertainment

Cardi B Explains Why She Turned Off ‘WAP’ When Her Daughter Walked Into the Room: ‘I Don’t Make Music For Kids’

Photo via kulturekiari/Instagram

Cardi B is tired of people criticizing her for the racy lyrics to “WAP”. On Monday, the Grammy-winning rapper defended herself against haters who called her out for turning off her multi-platinum song “WAP” when her daughter entered the room.

The drama started earlier this week when Cardi went viral for a recent livestream fail.

During the livestream, Cardi appeared to be having a great time, dancing and singing along to her hit single, but quickly turned the music off when she saw her two-year-old daughter, Kulture enter the room.

Cardi mumbled “No, no, no, no,” as she shut off the raunchy song. Then, she coyly took a sip of wine.

While some people found this incident funny (and relatable), there were a select few who didn’t.

Some haters took the video as an opportunity to call Cardi hypocritical for shielding her daughter from her own song while little kids around the world are being exposed to the NSFW lyrics.

“So ya daughter cant listen to it but everybody else’s daughter can @iamcardib?” wrote an infuriated Twitter user. “AW OKAY! Exactly what I been saying you have an agenda to push with that trash ass label your with. DISGUSTING”.

Cardi didn’t waste any time defending herself. “Ya needs to stop with this already!” Cardi wrote back. “I’m not Jojo Siwa! I don’t make music for kids, I make music for adults. Parents are responsible on what their children listen to or see. I’m a very sexual person but not around my child, just like every other parent should be.”

Cardi then went on to defend the right for mothers to be sexual while also being maternal when they want to be.

“There’s moms who are strippers. Pop pussy, twerk all night for entertainment,” she wrote. “Does that mean they do it around their kids? No! Stop making this a debate. It’s pretty much common sense.”

While some users still felt the need to drag Cardi (haters gonna hate), many of her fans came to her defense, calling out the double standards that Cardi faces as a female rapper.

“It’s always the female artist getting critique,” wrote one Twitter user. “Why people don’t talk about all the disgusting music some men be putting out?”

“This!!!” wrote another user. “Like @Eminem literally has multiple songs about murdering people but no one bats an eye about that but because it’s a female talking about her wet [cat emoji] people jump to conclusions.”

It looks like the controversy surrounding “WAP” isn’t ending any time soon. And hey, if Cardi’s motive behind the song was to spark controversy, she very much succeeded in that goal.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Vanessa Bryant Said It Was ‘Love At First Sight’ When She First Met Kobe

Entertainment

Vanessa Bryant Said It Was ‘Love At First Sight’ When She First Met Kobe

Donato Sardella / Getty

Vanessa Bryant says love at first sight is very real.

The wife of the late NBA great recently revealed that it happened to her the very first time she met Kobe Bryant 21 years ago.

Over the weekend, Bryant shared a photo of her and the former LA Laker while visiting Disneyland.

Last Friday, Bryant celebrated the 21st anniversary of the day she and Kobe met. She captioned the Instagram post writing “Love at first sight 11/27/99 #21.”

Vanessa and Kobe met in 1999 during a music video shoot while she was still in high school and he was 20 years old. The couple became engaged when she turned 18, announced their engagement at her 18th birthday party, and the Bryants married in April 2001.

In 2013, Kobe shared a picture of the day they met on Instagram.

“On this day 20 years ago I met my best friend, my Queen @vanessabryant I decided to take her on a date to Disneyland tonight to celebrate old school style (pre 4princesses) I love you my mamacita per sempre,” Kobe wrote in the Instagram post at the time.

After their 2001 message, Kobe and Vanessa had four daughters together, Natalia, 17, Gianna, 13, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 1. Tragically, in January, Bryant and Gianna passed away in a helicopter crash alongside seven others.

Last year, Kobe also reflected on the day he met his “best friend,” posting a throwback pic along with the Disneyland snap.

“On this day 20 years ago I met my best friend, my Queen @vanessabryant,” he captioned his post at the time. “I decided to take her on a date to Disneyland tonight to celebrate old school style (pre 4princesses) I love you my mamacita per sempre.”

It’s not the first time Vanessa honored her husband since his death. In October, the former model and philanthropist honored her husband and daughter with tattoos.

Speaking about her loss, Vanessa’s friend La La Anthony told Entertainment Today that she’s done her best to stay strong.

“Well, you know, I’m a real friend, that’s what friends do,” Anthony told ET in September. “You know, you don’t dip out on your friends when it gets really hard. And she’s going through something that is unimaginable, that, you know, I can’t even fathom what that feels like. So, just to be a friend and be there to make her laugh when she needs to, cry when she needs to, is a beautiful thing. But that’s what friends do for each other, you know, so I’m always going to be there for her and the girls and just, you know, want to see her just continue to be strong and amazing.”

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com