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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