A friend sent me this poem on the occasion of our daughter's wedding. I love the image of the thread, which is similar but not quite the same as that of apron strings. Although both threads and aprons hearken to the domestic arts that often bind mother and daughter together, the red thread seems more beautiful and poignant, tying as it does the early memories of childhood jackets and unbound feet with the weaving of the actual shoes which her daughter will wear as she leaves her family home. 

Although I did not make my daughter's wedding shoes (she chose to walk barefooted down the grassy aisle) I did pull out needle and thread to make some alterations in the sleeves of her wedding dress. Like the mother in the poem, I was complicit in her departure. But this was not the first time. As mothers (and fathers) we nuture our children so that they may leave us. We train and encourage, challenge and give. In this we weave the shoes they wear to go into the world, whether sons or daughters, into marriage or as single adults.

We trust that these threads of love will keep us connected, no matter where our children will go. I don't know what the new relationship with my daughter will look like, or, for that matter, the relationship that will develop with my new son-in-law. But I trust there are ways to weave new patterns of love into our expanded family. Because truly, I can't imagine not sewing.

For a Daughter Who Leaves 
by Janice Mirikitani 
"More than gems in my comb box
shaped by the
God of the Sea, I prize you, my daughter. . ."
-Lady Otomo,
8th century, Japan

A woman weaves 
her daughter's wedding 
slippers that will carry
her steps into a new life. 
The mother weeps alone
into her jeweled sewing box
slips red thread
around its spool, 
the same she used to stitch 
her daughter's first silk jacket 
embroidered with turtles 
that would bring luck, long life. 
She remembers all the steps 
taken by her daughter's 
unbound quick feet:
dancing on the stones 
of the yard among yellow
butterflies and white breasted sparrows. 
And she grew, legs strong 
body long, mind
Now she captures all eyes 
with her hair combed smooth 
and her hips gently 
swaying like bamboo. 
The woman
spins her thread 
from the spool of her heart, 
knotted to her daughter's 
wedding slippers.