At the end of a long day, still not relieved of her “Mom” duties, my mom would gather with all of her kids in the family room for TV time. Regardless of her fatigue, we wanted her with us and she would comply. She would lay down on the floor to release the tension from her muscles and seek refuge from her senses. With her body exhausted from the chores and constant touch, her ears still ringing from the sounds of voices, phones and household appliances, and her eyes saturated with sights of children, books, her husband, she would quietly close her eyes while the rest of us turned our focus to the family programming on TV. Regardless of her best efforts to appease her children’s desires to have her near, she was done. Rest lured her away from us like an irresistible lover, and her eyes would close. When we would call “Mom,” she would insist she was still with us…she wasn’t sleeping, she was just resting her eyes.
A good part of the last two weeks has felt like one very, very long day. I have pushed, supported, scolded, and motivated my children to finish their 4-H projects. There has been laughter and there have been tears. And, there has been a lot of sleep lost in the last 48 hours in preparation for today, judgment day–I mean, judging day.
There have been full days of, “Mom, do you know where the paper-cutter is?…Where’s the tape?…Do I have to really do this?…I didn’t procrastinate!…I guess I really liked this project after all …Where did the glue go? …Mom, can you proof this for grammar?…Next year, I’ll start so much earlier.” (Uh-huh, heard that one before!)
Then, last night as suddenly as it began, it all came to an abrupt halt. At 10 o’clock at night, we had run out of rubber cement. Project boards not yet fully mounted with their fun facts about Mongolian archery and the different types of feathers, I drug my pajama pant clad bum to Wal-Mart in search of the holy adhesive. (White glue wrinkles the mounts. And, yes, I was really wearing pajama pants to Wal-Mart, perhaps subconsciously hoping to be discovered for an upcoming episode of “What Not to Wear” and whisked away from all this!)
My husband joined along for the ride, and fully supported me as I raided the candy aisle. With two bottles of glue in one hand, the other hand plucked bags from the shelf with reckless abandon. It was gonna be a long night.
Somewhere around 11, Robert Frost joined the chorus of noise in my nagged-out brain. “The woods are lovely, dark and deep, But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep,” played like a mantra, over and over again. By midnight, my eyes could focus no more and my ears rung with the sound of paper-cutters and glue brushes. There was no charge left in my mama battery and I really just wanted “to rest my eyes.”
This morning, I awoke refreshed, though bleary-eyed. I gave thought to the 12th hour panic that was the last 48 hours. I thought about the night’s last great push and the fatigue that lingers in my muscles today. I thought about my girls and my husband, and the way all four of us came together to “get ‘er done” through candy, glue and teamwork. Could I have left my girls to finish on their own? Sure, I could have. Sometimes, that’s the best thing you can do when teaching kids about responsibility. But had I done that last night, I would have missed out on something bigger than a lesson in responsibility. I would have missed sharing in the memory of my two girls working together, laughing while gluing down feathers and “high-five-ing” as the clock struck midnight.
Such a great place that was to rest my eyes just before they closed, at the end of a long 48 hour day! Almost tempts me to let them procrastinate again next year, but I think I’ll focus on that “responsibility lesson” instead.