The Good Mother

by B.G. Markstad

My son did everything but hand out cigars when he got his new Ford. He has devoted the last five days to making this used vehicle distinctively his.

First the sound system of course, then the blue interior lights for a night-time ambiance I don’t care to know about. Then the seatcovers, then the hole drilled in the back seat for skis to fit through. And today’s project- the felt on the dashboard which he measured and cut himself and velcroed down – a project of at least two hours as he sat in the driveway listening to his tunes at about 50 decibels.

He has given the family the tour of the car after each accessorizing addition, curtain calls obligatory and when his sisters’ eyes started to glaze over,  roped in the neighbor, random passersby and at least one dog.


Soon he was left alone to his hobby and I, in a surge of motherly devotion decided I would help sew the felt.

My contribution would be a surprise, a cover for the stereo accessory which looked very stealable exposed whenever the trunk was open.

So as he sat in the wind sewing in his vehicle, I secretly worked away in the kitchen cutting, stitching.  This story in any other mother’s book would have a Normal Rockwoman type ending where I would beamingly place said stereo cover on to the delight and grateful embrace of my son.

And so it does.   I dragged out my 1940 Singer sewing machine, placed it strategically on the hallway floor,  the only place it reaches the electric outlet, and sat in front of it, leg extended to hit the power since my hands were aligning fabric and turning the wheel. After twenty or so threading attempts we were off and I got in at least ten stitches before the thread snapped.  This pattern repeated itself with annoying predictability for the next hour, despite bobbin changes, rewindings, unwindings, tension adjustments and putting on my glasses. But that was normal. My Home Ec mark had always been my lowest mark and one time I had had to write lines for not filling the double boiler base with water before I put the heat on.

I had forgotten, since last making curtains with this sewing machine five years ago that it knows when I am in a hurry. We discussed, I tried to look calm. I even took a break to let the dog out. But it was not deceived. And ultimately, as it often does, it won. I resorted ultimately to hand-stitching with the one needle I could thread since I now could not find my glasses.

The idea was to make an elasticized cover over the front of the stereo. Simple enough. I cut an approximate square of fabric and had an inspiration of using pre-elasticized sheet edge for the elastic. I used  all the corners from the sheet and then sewed these bits together to avoid having to sew corners.  I sewed the fabric over the elastic all around  but not being sure how much to stretch the elastic to do this, ended up with a doll-size stereo

Generation two of the cover took another square of  fabric but this time I was more generous. I guesstimated bigger. And this one not only fit over the stereo cover but over half the spare tire..

Generation three of the cover was my inspiration as dinner hour fast approached and I should be cooking. I opted to forego sewing completely and move directly to stapling. I’d make the whole thing just a nice three sided flat cover. I turned the fabric over in my hands about 30 times trying to visualize which way to fold things over so that all the ‘wrong’ sides were on the same side. I was fine until I got to the edges and then was not sure how to do the 90 degree fold. I opted to just fold and staple and hope.Staples were flying and the dog wandered into the kitchen and started to limp so I knew she’d found at least one staple.

Meanwhile my son had entered, hungry, and noticed the disarray of the house, sewing machine, thread and needles out but not in use, fabric all over the floor and table, the dog limping and me stapling. I told him, "Don’t even talk to me" and he slumped back outside.  As he sat in the front seat I sneaked to the trunk and spread the cursed rag again over the stereo. It kept slipping off until I stretched the extricated elastic from version two over it. That somehow fit though now it looked like a sheet with a white girdle over it.

Generation four of the cover was made by hand-sewing again, this time using a gathering stitch I recalled from school. I made this stitch  all around version three, and then laced the elastic all around the circle using a diaper pin to pull it along.  I gingerly stretched the fabric along the gather hoping it would not rip the stitching and sure enough it did rip, but just in each corner. To my surprise as I stretched the whole thing over the stereo, it fit!  Of course it fit!  Has anything I ever turned my hand to failed? Well, except that .

Easy enough and it only took me  three hours. We had beans for supper and anyone who wasn’t grateful for them could go hang.  My son looked at the cover, threads dangling off the top, white elastic peeking out at each corner, put his arm around me and said, "Aw mom… That’s very nice"

He drove off for the evening.  I suspect the cover will be removed shortly. But I don’t care as long as I don’t know about it.  After all, I am a good mom.

B. G. Markstad