Right here in the moment, looking at what I have
I was hanging out laundry the other day, musing about life, my life in particular (natch’), especially how much it has changed over the past few years. I thought about my lovely children who have grown up one by one and have gone off to start families and adventures and lives of their own. I think about them an awful lot. If I’m alone or with others, quiet or busy, I think about them. I miss them. In fact, some days I miss my life as it once was: filled to the brim with little kids running around, growing, changing, learning. Not to mention youthful me, running right along with them. 🙂
My life today is still plenty busy, but there are days when I miss those years, when all the kids were home, with an exquisite pang. My young mom years are past. My old-er mom days are upon me, and sometimes I feel sorry for little Mack. I take the stairs very slowly because of disappointing knees. 🙁 I often fall asleep, embarrassingly, when we sit down to watch a show at the end of the day.
Little Mack keeps his eye on me and nudges me awake when necessary, so I don’t miss the good parts. 🙂 Bless him.
My heart, alas, (my Dad might say that this is the Irish in me, which I got–I’ve got to point this out, Dad–from the Irish in him) seems to automatically go to a melancholy place when change is happening too quickly for me to keep up. And gracious, change is all that has been happening around here.
Fancy: This year, Bethany got married to Saia; Matthew and Rachel added baby Wesley to their family; Andrew and Sonia announced a new baby to come to their family in February; Timothy left home for his “college tour,” working at WWOOF farms until nobody-knows-when; Amalia started talking about what she will do after she graduates from high school in a mere year and a half; little Mack is not so little anymore, as he is 9-going-on-smarter-than-you-Mom-no-offense.
Back to the laundry that I was hanging out, piece by piece. That’s one constant in life, isn’t it? There’s always laundry to do. And I don’t mind hanging out the laundry (it’s an outside chore, hello), but I was thinking about how ironic it is that I don’t seem to be able to keep up as well as I could when we had all the kids at home. I was simply home more in those days. It was harder to get things done, but also harder to go places, so I stayed home more. And I had more kids at home to help, obviously.
Amalia patiently listened to me talk about this one day: how we used to keep up with routine housework when all the kids were home. “Sure, Mom,” she said, her mind on other things: her Instagram feed, perhaps, or what a friend had texted to her earlier that day.
I continued, undeterred, by her polite lack of interest. Each month, I explained, I assigned one particular chore to each kid, and then we’d rotate the next month. I wasn’t all that organized, but it worked well if one kid took laundry responsibilities, one took dishes, one took picking-up-and-vacuuming, and one helped with the cooking. That left two littles who were free to run around and get into trouble. It was a simple system and it worked really well, with a minimum of arguing about whose job it was to do what, when.
We had names for each position: “Laundry Drudge,” “Kitchen Helper,” and so on. I drew a chart that I would refer to if there were any questions about whose turn it was in the rotation.
But back to this particular laundry-hanging morning: Amalia had worked all weekend–often that’s when we do a bit of catch-up, and she usually takes care of laundry–and the laundry was piled up in large unkempt mounds–clean, but unfolded, and the dishes were piled up, too. Since I’d been preserving and canning nearly every day, everything in the kitchen was a bit sticky.
A. Bit. Sticky. Ick.
Gosh, why don’t we install floor drains in the kitchen? And cabinets and floors made out of a material which would not be damaged by a power-spraying hose? Can’t you just imagine how easy that would be to keep everything nice and clean? So the kitchen gets a little splattered and sticky from making salsa for a week. No problem! The beaming, confident hausfrau simply strides over to the wall hose–it’s as big as a fire hose!–pulls it out, turns it on and whoooeee! In seconds, mere seconds, the kitchen is sprayed clean, sparkling, fresh. We would install the little dial on the wall, like is installed in our town’s car wash, so you could dial in a soap cycle, a de-greaser if it was super greasy (which oftentimes, it is) some fine sand for friction if it was really really bad, and then finish the entire process with a very light coating of food-safety wax, so the next time somebody blended, say, a berry smoothie and forgot to put the lid on the blender, all the sticky would just bead up and run off. Why don’t we design kitchens like this? Why, oh why, oh why don’t we, Gentle Reader?
Oh–kay. Back to reality: I was packing up my kitchen, since it was going to be going away. Next week, you guys, I will no longer have a kitchen, due to our put-off-for-fourteen-years-kitchen-remodel that we are finally diving into. God help me. No, literally, dear patient merciful Father God, help me! Me without a kitchen! I don’t even know what that looks like?!
I’m going to write all about it, soon. Promise. I’ve been taking photos.
Then it occurred to me, in one fell swoop. (Are you following, dear Gentle Reader?)
This is the thought that struck me, and struck me hard: At least I have a kitchen. For one more week, at least, I have a kitchen. With running water: hot and cold. (Get. Out.) A freezer and a refrigerator. Lots of cabinets full of food, and dishes and plastic things and big glass bowls and pots and pans and whatnot. A submersible blender, which I love. Even next week, when my old kitchen is going into the dumpster out back, due to the hard work, thoughtfulness and care (and glee, let’s not forget the glee that comes from tearing down walls and stuffing old sheetrock into the dumpster) of our contractor Reuben, and my sweet husband, I’ll have a little “party kitchen” in the sunporch, where I can still prepare food and wash dishes and fiddle and mix. Just a bit, though.
Hanging out laundry is meditative work, possibly better than therapy, and cheaper, too, and there was lots of it to hang out. What felt like a divine whisper (Flylady calls it a “God breeze,” I call it the Holy Spirit) interrupted my thoughts and said “Amy. Look at what you HAVE, not at what you don’t have.” And I was immediately and powerfully humbled and contrite. Of course. All these struggles and challenges and puzzles I have? Ridiculously-blessed Rich Folk Problems.
In fact, most problems that come up for most of the people I hang out with? Ridiculously-blessed Rich Folk Problems.
Yes, I miss my grown-up children, but there are folks who want children but never have the privilege of having any, despite their longings. No, I can’t keep up with mowing the grass at our place, but I HAVE lots of grass to mow. And a lovely bit of land. I have it. It’s not bare, windswept earth. It’s lush green grass, providing a pleasant place to walk and play.
Rich Folk Problems. I can’t keep the house clean (not all at once, at least) and the kitchen is rahther sticky, but I HAVE a house. A big one! And I have a kitchen. In fact my little “party kitchen” is going to be sweet. A mini-kitchen. A roof over my head, equipped with running water, electricity, indoor plumbing–you guys–!
I am such a spoiled thing! How can I complain about anything?
The remodeling project has reduced my house–not just the area of the kitchen, which is the part we’re working on–but all of it, to a big crazy mess. But at least we HAVE the extra cash to sink into a remodeling project. And we have a builder who is cheerful and kind and bursts into song whenever the notion hits (which is often). He is helping us, and we have enough extra cash saved up, glory, glory, to pay him for his time. (For awhile, Reuben, not forever. 😉 )
Is that not a rich folk thing, also? Paying somebody to do something that you don’t know how to do, or don’t have the expertise to do as well (to put it mildly)?
I can’t keep the garden weeded (not all of it, not all at once) but I HAVE a nice big garden space. With deep, loamy, gorgeous soil that grows food and weeds, both, beautifully. And more food coming out of it every day than I can process!
I HAVE so much. Sometimes I forget how much I have been given, in the cares of the day. In the worry over how much it’s going to cost to fix the car’s weird little problems, I forget what a blessing it is to have a car. In the struggle to train little Mack to do his chores cheerfully and with a servant’s heart, I forget what a blessing it is to have the ornery little buggar, no matter what his behavior might be on a given day. I could go on and on.
I’ll bet you could, too, Gentle Reader, if you are reading this rant on a computer or a ‘phone. You have a computer? That’s awesome. So do I. Sometimes it gives me fits. Rich Folk Problem.
Yep (*sigh*), four of my lovely children have grown up and moved away and I don’t get to see them as often as I’d like. But they are good about including me into their lives, still, and I HAVE at home two lovely children (and a patient husband) to share my life with NOW. This very minute my daughter is making an apple tart for supper, and little Mack and I just came in from shooting an experimental rocket (it fizzled) out on the driveway.
Let’s just agree that I HAVE much more than I don’t have, and I would guess that the same is true of you. Maybe part of being a successful entrepreneur in America is looking at what you don’t have, and then setting your course at working until you get it. A successful home business. A bigger reader base. Some more blogging affiliates. More and more pageviews and product sales. But if you’re not careful, all that effort and work can consume you and you only see what you don’t have yet. And that’s the attitude that you get used to living with. It’s not what I want for myself.
This is my prayer: God, help me to wake with new eyes every day, and help me to see what I HAVE and not what I don’t have. Help me to be filled with contentment and joy and gratitude for the life I HAVE, right now, not the life I’d like to have. Help me not to work myself to exhaustion to have a life that is not any more pleasant or fulfilling than the life I already HAVE.
Give me the courage to be content.
And it does take courage, doesn’t it, to say “I like what I have. I’m fine with this. I don’t have to have this, or that.”
“Create in my a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” –Ps 51
Does any of this strike a chord in you, Gentle Reader? I’d love it if you commented below!
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Well I really don’t have a comment exactly. My wife and I just spent the month of August cleaning out our house in Wisconsin so that we could put it on the market. I do hate to look back at all we got rid of. 25 years in a house where we raised 5 kids, a few children from other members of our family and a few others, The house was built with love and of course over 25 years we had done some remodeling so that it was OUR HOUSE. we had to walk away. We left much behind, memories that are better not thought about to often. But our new life is very full. We have new friends, new interests, a different house to mold into our own. And we have 14 grandchildren and one great grandson that we can go visit once in a while….As you said, be thankful for what you have…..try not to want what others have just because it looks like something you would like….stay very near nature and a garden. Let your hands dig in dirt often and life will be ok.
aww, Chef William, I really enjoyed your comment. Even though you really didn’t have a comment to make. 😉
Sign in a bakery long ago “as you travel through life, brother, let this be your goal : Keep your eye upon the donut, and not on the hole”
Sage advice, Dad. 🙂
Amy you write so well, I enjoyed every word.
As of December 31, 2015 my life will change again after 25 years of working out of the home.
I’m having trouble imagining what some days will hold for me. Living in a small community in the middle of Nebraska I know I will be as busy as I want to be. It does make you ponder though!!!
I know you well enough to imagine that your life after retirement will be just as busy and fulfilling as your life before retirement! As I have found out this year (when I retired from a couple of things that had been taking lots of my time) when you close one door of your life, lots of other doors and opportunities open for you. I can’t wait to hear what your new opportunities will be! *hugs*
I am 70 something so it’s perhaps easy to look back when my children were running around my feet……I was a stay at home mom for most of their childhood, so was blessed in many ways to see them develop…..now I am blessed with 5 grandchildren and three great grandchildren, none of which we get to see very often……but all these blessings were given to me, free gratis, thank you Lord……I have had the same husband for 52 years that has loved me dearly….thank you Lord……I too need to see each new day with the eyes of faith……thanking Him who gives gifts so freely…..and do my little deeds of kindness on a daily basis to try and make this world….my world….a little better than if I would never have been…..I love your rants dear Amy…..may many blessings continue to be yours….enjoy your new kitchen and a lovely new pantry……what a blessing that will be……
Pat, I know it will be a blessing to have the new kitchen/pantry, but it’s keeping me up nights trying to figure out exactly how to plan the layout and the jillions of decisions to be made! Oiy! God does shower us with blessings, doesn’t He, whether we are ready for them or not!! Thanks for your sweet comment, Pat!
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Oh Amy…as they say, “been there done that”! It’s so wonderful to be at a different stage of our lives. You are now looking back and moving on. I think a little thing called “mourning”. It’s saying “goodbye” to the past and “hello” to the wonderful new future! Yeaaaa…
I’m like you, mowing, gardening… it’s called mindless work and great time to talk to the Lord!
As you said, so blessed!
Your writing was heavy in the beginning but light and free at the end…
Continue praising the Lord and you will be blessed!
PS…make sure you put DEEP drawers in the new kitchen. I love mine!! :0) Ciao!
Rose, Tell me what else you like about your kitchen! We are still designing! And thanks so much for your encouragement, it means a lot to me!
Wellll…if you insist! You must have an island. I absolutely love mine (with one stool for me, or whoever, to sit and cut/chop so I don’t have to stand all the time). A stool you can push in when not using. Dinner is served from that island every single day (even parties). So nice to put everything out and have-at-it. Even nights that are “every man for himself”. My kitchen is simple with nothing cutsie about it. No glass fronts because you have to put something nice in it and it’s wasted space. I picked dark colored counter tops only to hide cut marks and scratches. I do have a spice drawer that I absolutely love, as I am always using spices (from the garden etc). Believe it or not, I have a big drawer for bread because I used to keep it on the counter all the time and it would drive me nuts. And as I was saying, “think big when it comes to drawers”! That’s about it…nothin’ fancy as I had to stick to practical due to finances. Less is better they say! Have fun!
Thanks Rose! I’m trying to keep my new kitchen space simple, too. The guys just yesterday removed the wall in the middle of the kitchen, and now it’s up to me to figure out my floorplan before next weekend! I AM having an island, and there’ll be a small sink in it, so veg prep is easy and can be done while somebody else 😉 is washing dishes at the primary sink. That’s about the only fancy thing I have planned. Also I’m not having a lot of cabinets in the kitchen, since I’ll have a large walk-through pantry where I’ll store all my not-daily-use stuff. I’ll remember to include DEEP drawers, and I’ll name them: the Rose drawers. Thanks for your suggestions, they mean a lot to me!
Hmm…think again for the prep sink on the island. I almost did but it was one more thing I had to clean (expense and the splashy mess to clean up) and it took up quite a bit of room on the island. I needed the space on my island more as it was more important. Glad I did as the main sink is so close to island. Just a thought from a busy kitchen! As they say, “different strokes…” Blessings
Hmm okay Rose, I am re-thinking it, especially since there are only two cooks left here at home for a couple more years (Amalia and me) and the main sink will be very close to the island. Any more thoughts?
Only other thing is…if you can afford it, a deep sink. Sooo worth it, especially as much gardening that you do. I do enjoy my rack (cabinet) between the dishwasher and the sink that stores ALL my cookie sheets/bread sheets and half sheets. It’s the little things in life! The only other thing I can think of is, I have a small spigot next to my faucet that I fill all my big pans/tea etc. w/ water. It does have a filter on it and I’m spoiled with it. More of a luxury item than anything else. Don’t forget the kitchen triangle where you want to make sure the sink, fridge and stove are all in the shape of a triangle. Can’t wait to see the final look…always exciting!
I just love this. That’s all I can really say. Sigh.
I just love YOU. *hugs*
This really struck a chord with me tonight. Sometimes I get so caught up in what I wish we had, or find myself dreaming about our next step in life. We are incredibly blessed in the here and now. My husband, daughter, and I moved across the country to a much healthier job environment, a loving church, a beautiful state, and to top it off, we are closer to family! Some days as we are driving past all the beautiful fall colors we get choked up. Life is good. But even in our trying years in Phoenix, I learned a lot about joy and how our calm delight in our Lord can never be taken away from us–no matter what life throws our way!
Nathana, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting something different and then working for it! However, I think it’s easy to overlook what you already have, in the quest to make your life better. I’m so glad that your move was a good fit for you all!