Though Beth was out of reach for a while as she was staying with her fiance’s family, the next days and weeks were blissful to me. My mother was sure my courtship with Harry would end in marriage. She adored him. And rightfully so, he was (and is) a sweet guy. My mother was excited to finally have a daughter whom she could share her wifely secrets with.
Though I had always chores to do around the house, such as cleaning, laundry and cooking, she now wanted to “really” prepare me for my future as a wife. She started actively cooking food with me. Between the steps she asked me questions how I would solve a problem, such as “If you accidentally overcooked the potatoes, what would you do? How can you avoid throwing them away?”. When doing laundry, she explained different stains to me and what detergent to use on them, how to get them out and how much of an emergency it was. She made sure I knew what cleansers to buy once I was on my own. How many socks, shirts, pants a man needs to have in his closet.
I don’t know if you can tell by my writing, but I actually enjoyed that time very much. It was very private, one on one time with my mother. I had never gotten that much attention since my siblings were born. And on top of that, for the first time in my life, I didn’t feel like I wasn’t good enough for my parents. I felt like I was actually pleasing everybody in the house.
My mom went on praising me when dad came home for dinner, saying that I was truly turning into a biblical woman and wife. I was unspeakably proud, hoping they would pass it to Harry’s parents as it could get me bonus points.
But there was one thing my mom couldn’t teach me, and that was sewing. She wasn’t terrible, but she never got into it. She didn’t like it. My mom thought it might be very useful for me to pick up some sewing skills, considering I would certainly have many kids with lots of clothes to fix. She talked to my dad about it, who agreed it was a good idea. They decided to ask a woman at a church we went to if she could teach me some sewing skills. That woman, Tiffany, was 27 and married. She was a very nice woman, but the family wasn’t overly active at church. She had been married for three years but had only one child. But my parents thought it might be good for me to talk about marriage with somebody younger than my mom, somebody whom they still considered newly wed. We asked Tiffany at church and she agreed to teach me.
From then on, two days a week my mom and I would go over to Tiffany’s house and learn sewing. Tiffany is a real craftswoman. Her house is beautiful, incredibly beautiful. She actually is so good at sewing that she makes most of her stuff herself. She made covers for her chairs and couch, her own pillows that she creatively decorated with old colorful buttons and different colored bands and such. She showed us her beddings, which were lovely, her aprons which were so pretty that she sells them online. She even made her own stuffed animals, but she said it was more fun for her to make aprons and beddings so she made those stuffed animals only for gifts. Her creativity was endless. Her entire house was decorated with so much love and passion. I remember staring in disbelief at a pair of old, worn-out working boots standing in the bookshelf. In those boots she put blooming colorful flowerpots. I thought it was weird at first but learned to love the style. You can probably tell by now how much I still admire Tiffany 😉
Not only was she a role-model for me creativity-wise, but her marriage seemed so happy to me, almost surreal. We met her husband, Steve, a bunch of times when we were over, and he was the sweetest, funniest man I had ever met until that point. When he came home, he was in a good mood, always a joke on his lips. One time, he came home and brought Tiffany flowers, with the words “for the prettiest woman in the entire world!”. When he saw us, my mother and me, he acted all embarrassed but then pulled out two single flowers and gave them to us, saying that we were not quite as pretty as his wife, but still very pretty. That upset my mother, she thought it was indecent and rude of him to give us flowers, and I for my part didn’t know how to react, but somehow the flower meant a lot to me. I knew Steve loved his wife and didn’t love me, but I felt so appreciated and honored. Of course, I’d never admit that to my mother.
Steve and Tiffany were so much fun to watch. When they were together, they’d throw each other meaningful looks, kiss and hug a lot, sometimes whisper and giggle. They were obviously deeply in love. Even though I found it kind of rude to display this sort of behaviour in front of guests, it was the first time I started to question love. I had never seen a behaviour like that in my family. For me, a wife had to be a dutiful servant, having dinner ready and being submissive and obedient. Tiffany was different, she played jokes on Steve, teased him and she didn’t even have dinner ready. Even worse, sometimes he cooked for the family! And he seemed to be genuinely happy. It didn’t make much sense to me. What was it that made those two people act like that?
The weeks went by, our sewing skills improved and Tiffany was happy and bubbly as ever. The day came where my mother had something else to do than go to Tiffany’s, but she let me go alone anyway, at this point trusting that Tiffany wouldn’t have a terrible influence on me. I was excited and nervous to go there alone. I was afraid that it would be different and I would act weird and everything would end up being a strange situation, but it wasn’t. I had a great time with Tiffany alone, and with my mother gone, she talked even more about things younger women care about. How she met Steve, how they got together and so on. I had a blast. While I was there, Steve came home, happy as ever. He got to business right away and started cooking dinner while Tiffany and I were still working on an apron I made. Time came around dinner was ready and they asked me if I had to go quickly or if I wanted to stay for dinner. I knew my mom was busy for another while and not at home, so I thought I might as well stay. This wasn’t allowed obviously, and dad would have been really angry to find out about it, but the temptation to have some more time with this happy couple and feel like “being part of it” was just too big. I stayed and had a great time. Steve made spaghetti and they were perfect. I found out that he was a passionate cook, much better than his wife. He told me that he loves to make food for people, something he made with his own hands that others enjoy, something that makes his wife happy and comfortable. This man was just too strange to be real.
After dinner, I packed up my sewing materials and Tiffany drove me home. My dad wasn’t home yet luckily, but my mom was. She was cooking dinner as I came in, asking me why I stayed away for such a long time. I lied to her, saying that I messed up on my apron and didn’t want to leave without at least opening up the seams I got wrong so I could try again next time. This satisfied her enough to keep quiet. As my dad came home we started eating dinner. Boy, that was hard. I was so full with Steve’s good food that I had a hard time eating enough of my mom’s food as to not raise any suspicions. I tried to swallow the bites with as little chewing as possible.
My mom was pleasantly surprised with the way things went, me going out alone to Tiffany’s house. She decided that from now on, whenever she couldn’t come, I would be allowed to go alone. This opened up new options to me and I started thinking about Tiffany’s marriage. I wanted to know what it was all about, her happiness and all that. I came up with a bunch of questions to ask her next time I was alone with her. In my head, that seemed fine. After all, I was preparing for marriage and needed advice from older people. I had a hard time falling asleep, still quizzing how I could be as happy as Tiffany.
Read the previous part here, or the next part here.