For my Mother...
When I was very, very young, and the center of my own universe, I made the mistake of complaining I was bored.
For my Mother, who was perpetually industrious, this was not a minor infraction. There would be no quarter for someone who obviously had too little work to do (however young). That summer, I became expert at cleaning everything under three feet tall, while my mother plied me with lessons from the American Work Ethic. She explained every maxim from "busy hands make light work" to "sweet are the uses of adversity" through stories from the definitive making-do period of her youth growing up during
As a captive audience, I eventually began to listen and being a store-bought kid (who thought vegetables grew under plastic wrap in the refrigerator case) I was fascinated by the details. You mean you
made your own soap?
-your own toys? -your own fun? I found my quizzical mind racing as I made the baseboards shine. I had total occupation; in addition, was quickly learning to value my discretionary time.
For the remainder of my youth, my Mother's primary admonishment to me, for any less-than-cheerful countenance, was: "you'd appreciate that chair more if you made it yourself".
I didn't have to be whining about furniture (sic)
to understand that she meant that the appreciative quality of my life was greatly influenced by my own industry and stewardship. Responsible contribution, respect for craftsmanship (and for the craftsperson), care and quality in whatever one's task, and the extraordinary value of work. She made the already clever child learn to think, value her articulate hands (her big feet, her strong back)
and freed her creative mind.
Some of the
Mom told me about
She remembered many lengthy poems & speeches, such as
Wreck of the Hesperus
(which she would FULLY recite if I failed to comb my hair
before coming downstairs in the morning.)
but she made me learn...
Ain't I a Woman
I think, so I would respect all my sisters,
but also all of our skills (whether anyone else thought them "suitable" or not)
and as I struggled through my teenage years, repeated:
until a bit of self-understanding shown behind my eyes
She could tap dance, and nobody knew
..and was an anchor for us all.
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