Monday, October 24, 2011


On Saturday mornings Avonlea and I clean.
We are usually able to whip out the bathrooms and the floors in under an hour.
All this productivity hinges, however, on Dave watching the other children.
Last Saturday Dave worked.
This left me with a to-do list a mile long, Avonlea who was recovering from a cold, and three other children all in good spirits (a.k.a. hyper). I sent the boys up to clean their room, occupied Rose, and got busy with Avonlea.
Things went slowly, to understate the situation, and an hour and a half later I was frantically steam-mopping the basement floor. I knew that my time was running out. The boys would be done soon and I needed to make lunch. I pushed the mop with such vigor that I resembled Puff the Magic Dragon in his cave doing a jig.
Then it happened.
Rose came down to the main floor and told Avonlea that the boys were fighting.
Avonlea stood on the basement stairs and yelled to me, over the steam, that the boys were fighting.
And I, sweet loving mother that I am, yelled back, "I don't care!"
Then I heard it, my words echoing through the house, as Avonlea yelled them to Rose, "She doesn't care!"
And Rose yelled them upstairs to the boys, "Mommy doesn't care!"
And the boys yelled them in triumph, "Mommy doesn't care!" and proceeded to slug each other.
As you can imagine, the echo sobered me, and inadvertently, I remembered something.

In my college graduating class, there was an older woman. She had raised two children and was a grandma. She told me that when her children were little she didn't want to be bothered by them. She would hide out in the barn for hours reading so that she wouldn't have to deal with them. Eventually, her marriage fell apart and her children left home to pursue their own lives that naturally didn't include her. Five or six years later, her daughter came to see her and left her two children with their grandma. This grandma looked at me with despair and told me that her daughter had said, "I don't want to be bothered by them anymore, you take them."
And I walked away from that conversation with this, "Our words echo."

On Saturday, I remembered, that my words echo.
We are "but a vapor" but we leave a residue on the people that are exposed to us.
My home can resound with life or with apathy.

I want to be bothered.
I want to care.
Sometimes it just takes an echo to remind me,
that I've got work to do,
and my time's running out.

Pictures from the farm and the apple festival.

1 comment:

  1. Growing up I had a neighbor friend whose mom frequently replied "I don't care" whenever she asked if she could play such and such or go with so and so. I envied her. Such freedom!

    And then my dear, sweet mother (most likely in an *unusually* weak moment and laden with overwhelming fatigue) finally said it to me one day when I asked if I could do something. I didn't like it one bit.

    I realized then and forever that to care, even if it means "no" is so, so much better. I don't remember my mom ever saying it again, and it's certainly been an image that has stayed with me as I raise my own children.



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