Saturday, August 31, 2013

Labor of Love

Too often I hear my mother's groans as I move around the house working. Or I just know that the way I moved and picked up that heavy bowl is exactly the way she did it. It has bothered me to have these reminders of age and being unfit. It feels so odd to see more of my mother in me than me. 

So I stretch and exercise enough to get my heart racing, I do not want to be a groaner or a deep sigher. I don't want to be seen as a martyr doing the house work who would rather find a spot to sit and just nest there all day. My mom was a big-time nest creator. She'd be surrounded by her planner, her water bottle, her books, magazines and phone. There were reasons for it, her legs hurt and she often suffered from bronchitis and other breathing problems. (But she wasn't a lazy lady. She gardened, socialized and was very creative with her hands.) 

This is at the top of my mind just now because I am working around my home getting the spare room ready for Writer Son and Sassy Bride to come for a week-long visit. I am so excited and happy they are coming! We will have a full house once again and I look forward to the laughs ahead. 

As I picked up a heavy basket full of CDs we never listen to, I kind of groaned and muttered to myself to Layla "Where can I stash these now?" And my mind went to my mom working to get her house ready for our visits over the years. I took it for granted of course. I piled my family into her house without a thought to all the work she did to prepare for our arrival.

I know now that the groans and muttering she may have done during the clean-up time was full of happiness and expectation. I know now, that while the dust flew and the blankets were aired out, she was smiling inside and pushing herself to do a bit more as each day grew closer to our appearance. I know now that the cupboards were stocked with more cereal than usual and milk was purchased in the full size rather than the skinny container.

She worked hard to prepare for us and I am sure that Dad had a long "Honey Do" list as well. But today I realize that the hard work was a labor of love. That little 3-word phrase makes more sense to me today than it ever has..."labor of love". It is a joy, a gleeful busy-ness that helps the time pass and gets us closer to the fun! 

In a few days our dining room table, which is usually just a catch-all for mail and library books, will be circled by my family. Rocker Son, Writer Son, Sassy Bride, Hubs and me, with Layla wandering from chair to chair....and I will look around and understand my mother's quiet glance at all of us laughing at a joke she did not get. I will not get half the inside jokes and weird movie references my kids make either, and that will be totally fine with me.

See PART 2 here.
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  1. So very happy for you. I know the feeling so well...and my mother did the same things as your mother. It was all joy to have family gather round, even if it was hard work. Her only frustration was she never could seem to get out of the kitchen long enough to sit down and visit with the family until we were all ready to walk out the door. I am trying to change that habit. It isn't easy when playing the hostess, but I am trying. Thank you for this story today. I will be thinking of you this next week and smiling with you in my heart. :)

    1. Thank you Pamela, the timing for the visit is really good for several reasons I won't go into. But we need this right now and the distraction from $$ stuff will be lovely. Regarding the cooking thing; my mom did that too, but I am not a confident cook so I always figure out some easy things to do and "LET" them do most of the cooking! Ha! ...
      .."Yes, I am so curious about that recipe, how did you do that again?" haha! They like it.

  2. So glad you'll have a gathering of family. That makes my mama's heart very happy.

    As I reading your description of seeing your mother's habits in your own, it reminded me of how often I look at my hands, the shape and size of my palms and fingers, and most especially the backs of my hands with their light collection of age spots, and am sometimes shocked to see my mother's hands.

    1. It is so weird isn't it? I see good traits and bad traits from my mom and it always catches me off guard. It's like, where did i go? With both of my husbands parents gone and one of mine, it is an adjustment to move into the "elder" position in family gatherings. Just so weird. But natural!

  3. You know, when Mom passed many of us piled up on my Aunt. Although we were all grieving, it was good to be around her and my cousins for dinners and chatting.

    I stayed an extra week...and got my Aunt a gift. Something she had seen. I left it behind in the room I stayed in. She kept us fed and warm, and although a "labor of love," it came at a time that made it all the more laborious. I appreciated that.

    So glad you're getting to spend time with the sons.

    M.L. Swift, Writer

    1. Thank you for the heartfelt comment Michael. I know your heart is working through the recent loss of your mother. As you know, mine passed 2 years ago and as these different moments come because of something I am doing or a special holiday, it is bittersweet.
      That was really sweet of you to leave a thoughtful hostess gift.


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