Today, I am sunburned and exhausted; but, it was worth it! Yesterday, I worked hard and felt a good tired at the end of the day. I also gained further respect for people who put their backs into their work every day. I fell into bed last night and had no trouble drifting off to dreamland. The result of hard work feels so good.
Since my mom retired in 2013, our visits have changed. For thirty years, I was the daughter of an elementary school teacher – and it was even part of my identity. Now, with no more bulletin boards to help put up, desks to clean, and birthday bags to fill, life is different. Mom retired with a vengeance. There is no sitting around, reading, taking it easy, and bird-watching for Mom (okay, yes, there is some bird watching, but only while she is busy doing something else like washing dishes). Mom epitomizes the saying, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” She does not believe in too much relaxing. ~smile~
On the other hand, Dad and I are all about relaxing; however, the older I get, the more compelled I feel to earn my relaxation. Mom used to say bedtime was like a reward, which sounded pathetic to me at the time. “What kind of life are you living if bedtime is a reward?” Slowly, but surely it is beginning to make sense.
Spring Project, 2015
During Eric’s annual April business trip, Ramsey (our golden retriever) and I make our way down to eastern North Carolina for a week-long visit with Mom and Dad. In the mornings, Dad heads off to work and Mom and I hit the day’s tasks hard. In some ways, I am busier when I am at my parents’ house than I am at home – even though I am technically “on vacation.”
The day generally begins with a three mile walk followed by some plan to do something else. Rarely do we just hang around and do nothing. Once in a while, that is nice; but, overall, I prefer to feel like the week was well spent. Since Mom’s retirement, she has gotten in touch with her inner-country girl. Raised in the South with free wandering animals and summers spent working in tobacco fields, Mom is country come to town. If she had half a chance, she would move to a farm in a heartbeat. That is, the kind of farm where all of the animals live full lives and die of natural causes. ~smile~ She loves the outdoors and has embraced gardening.
Concrete is a Grown Woman’s Superglue
That brings us to my latest experience – working with Mom (and her friend Mary) to build a fence around Mom’s garden. It may sound boring, but I honestly had a blast. I was like a little kid yelling, “My turn!!! My turn!!!” when it came time to spray, mix, and pour the concrete. Mom, proving that sixty is the new forty, dug the holes with post-hole diggers, and then we worked for hours aligning four by fours and setting them in concrete. I wish someone had videoed us. Mom and I had no idea what we were doing, but thankfully her friend Mary (proving that seventy is the new fifty) was there to walk us through it.
Call it pride – or call it whatever you want – but after seeing Mary maneuver several eighty pound bags of concrete mix, I was determined to move one myself. Regardless of Mom’s repeated pleas for me not to hurt my back, I proved I am almost as strong as a seventy-year-old. Mission accomplished. ~wink~
What was not expected to be an all-day project turned into one. We left the house at 7:45am to walk and then returned to begin working. Other than bathroom breaks, water breaks, and the quick lunch break, we spent the entire day outside in the beautiful April weather working with our hands. Just like a kid, I found every opportunity to spray myself and anything else with the water hose. ~smile~
Somewhere between 6-7pm, we finished for the day. There was no time to cook, but we were far too tired to think about cooking anyway; so, we showered and headed to a local buffet. We earned those calories!
Maybe We’re Not So Different After All
Over the years, it has been difficult to find similarities between Mom and me. She is constantly on the go and I have always been laid back; but, as I get older, I am finding more resemblances. We both like to learn by jumping into a project with both hands. As long as I am working with teachers who know what they are doing, I am happy to learn something new as long as it is a physical job which does not involve text books or written instructions. As I was shoveling dirt yesterday, I thought, “I would much rather be this kind of girl than a dainty one.” Do not get me wrong, I still love pink. I will just have to get some pink tools to go into my new pink glitter toolbox. ~smile~
My seventy-three year old neighbor once told me that she loves hard work and I am beginning to understand why. There are few better feelings than putting in a hard day’s work and knowing that you made something happen. Laziness is its own punishment.
If it has been a while since you have gotten your hands dirty and learned something new, jump in and go for it. What do you want to learn? What project will leave you feeling fulfilled, accomplished, and dog tired? I am sore and I am sunburned, but I am happy!
When is the last time you felt the joy of hard work?