Monday, May 5, 2008


So why was everything at sixes and sevens last week? Why were the children acting up? Why was mama impatient and cross? Why was everyone's nutrition sub-standard?

The first Communion sarafan, that's why!

But at least the result was nice. I'm not sure this photo does it justice, but it is full-length, anyway. (If you click on the photo to see it close up, you get an idea of how I put it together - also you'll see the front entrance to our "home away from home.) Anastasia's insistance on wearing the kokoshnik so far back on her head took away the traditional Russian look, a bit, still I think she looked like a fairy-tale.

The only problem with this result is the sacrifices we made to get it (noted above). I really only put two and two together this morning, as I wondered why the heck all hell seemed to break loose among the troops this weekend. I suppose abandonment by the mother-figure last Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights (I could only sew at night, so just took the kids home and came back to my sewing room here at the office) was not all that conducive to a safe and secure feeling on the homefront. Dad doesn't come through with the meals like I do, either. I would come home at 11 or 12 and see the evidence of ramen and mac and cheese "meals". Poor kids. The bedtime routine was just "bedtime" and not "routine", too.

I could kick myself. I sometimes get obsessed and refuse to not do too much. I wanted so much to do this for Anastasia every since she and I came up with the idea. Anastasia loves wearing sarafans. When she first came, went to public school, and was a bit younger she would wear one to school at least once a week. I've made her several, but never had a real pattern. Of course, since this one was not for play or even for a Russian community get-together, I felt I had to do a "real" garment - no short-cuts. And was that ever stressful! And it started off with the iron spewing some not-so-clean droplets onto this fabric, and causing one more trip to the fabric store.... renewing my anxiety about working with WHITE.

She was thrilled with her dress. But what I ask myself, is how much of this project was for Anastasia and how much for me? I love to sew, but am so busy with other things that I rarely do it unless there is an event that requires something. Maybe that's why I've sewn nothing but sarafans for the past three years! But was this whole enterprise primarily selfish, when you get right down to it? There's no doubt that Anastasia was pleased, but any new dress would have pleased her. Or was it just a slight shadow of some obsessive-compulsive disorder: Any good idea must be followed to its conclusion.

I suppose all is well that ends well. I hope it all ends well, and that none of the other children have initiated a downward behavioral spiral that cannot be halted.

Now that first communion is over, I guiltily ask myself whether or not it would be sacreligious to use a garment made for a holy occasion when Yolka comes around. I think it would make a terrific basis for a Snegurotchka costume.


Irina said...

Annie, I see your Blog a long ago. Do you know where is West Branch? I would be glad to see you once. I think, you are a remarkable mother. And I like, as you support Russian in the Russian children.

MoscowMom said...

I wave the "Mommy wand" and absolve you from the guilt. By doing so, I'm absolving myself, too... I could just as easily have written your post... And if it's not about sewing that costume, it would be about painting those murals on their bedroom walls/making all those games and cakes for birthday parties/making our dinners from healthy ingredients and from scratch--especially when the recipes take more time, but expose them to different cuisines and recipes that have tradition--and meaning-- to me/creating elaborate scavenger hunts that the Easter Bunny leaves... I absolve you (and myself) for the following reasons:

1. You made a special memory for Anastasia. Years from now, she'll see those pictures from her first communion she'll remember coming up with that idea with you. It will mean a lot that you cherish her Russian background--the design. It will be really special to her that you MADE this for her--especially when she's old enough to appreciate how hard it is to sew like that. She'll cherish that you chose to focus time JUST ON HER for a little bit.

2. It's okay to do something that is special to YOU. Yes, the troops were a bit neglected while you were busy sewing--but it's not as if you were off a spa those evenings. (That said, a little spa time would be ok, too). Their basic needs were met and you'll get it all back to normal now that the Communion took place. Sewing that dress--and all those other lovely costumes--satifies your need to create. Your need to feel in control of SOMETHING--because you simply can't control the daily hectic goings-on at your house. Kudos to you for recognizing something that brings you joy--and for doing it. You're setting an important example for your kids--that it's important to find things that give you a sense of satisfaction, especially a hobby that brings joy to others, and to master it. May they become equally devoted wood workers, mechanics, artists, soccer players, gardeners, etc.

Relax. Be proud. Yes, Anastasia looks LOVELY in her dress. But more importantly? She looks HAPPY. She looks like a girl who knows her mommy really, truly loves her.

Annie said...

That is probably the kindest, most lovely response I've ever received. And, I had not really thought about the fact that sewing does give me a feeling of "control" (in a way...) and the satisfaction of completion...and the opportunity to create. Thank you so very much.

Rachael said...

Annie, you are too hard on yourself. The dress is amazing. Anastasia will treasure it someday. (Assuming you don't cut it up and make a costume out of it -- please don't do that!!!)

Nataliya said...

This sarafan is absolutely awesome, and Anastasia looks like a fairy tale princess!

And yes, it will make a terrific Snegurochka costume!

Wife to the Rockstar said...

Great Job!!! I am impressed!

Christine said...

Your daughter will treasure that dress. What a wonderful job. Your heart shines through Annie. :)