It is 6:52am.
I’m sitting on the couch, Lizzie is across from me bleating out “Amazing Grace” on her recorder that every now and then squeaks for no apparent reason. Bennett is standing in front of me talking about how he has good news! He found the bag for the book he’s supposed to return, now he just needs to find the actual book. Mary is reading aloud from a stapled, photocopied book titled, Mother, Mother, Where am I?
“Look Mom! I can read it! … Mama, Mama …”
“Mary, it says, ‘Mo … th … er ...'” (sounding out the words).
Mollie is standing in front of the open pantry mumbling as is her habit. I caught the words “Sun Chips” and “Did you…” and that was about it.
The minutes tick down.
It is now 6:55 and they need to leave to make the bus. Like now.
“Wait! I forgot something!” Lizzie exclaims and runs upstairs, her sneakers stomping so loudly on the stairs, I thought the house might fall. Seriously. It’s like she tries to make noise.
“The book is stuffed in my desk drawer … I think,” says Bennett.
“Mom, can Dobby go out?”
“Go!” I say, pointing to the front door, the very last thing I need is to have to take them to school after they’ve missed the bus because they squandered the full 56 minutes they had to do things that collectively take maybe 17 minutes. Maybe.
Do other mom’s deal with this? I’m just wondering.
The door slams, finally, and I am left in relative quiet. Mollie is shifting around, making breakfast. I walk in the kitchen to survey the carnage and am stunned, gobsmacked, speechless.
Peanut butter. Jelly. Toaster. Plates. The empty Nutella jar. Full cups of sipped on drinks. The frying pan with dried egg. Cheese. Bacon. The ramekin that the egg was mixed in. A sink full of the dishes from the previous evening, including the soup pot from last night left to “soak” because … why? A dishwasher full of clean, un-emptied dishes.
I had a super nice, long chat with a dear friend yesterday. We laughed about how we don’t expect much, really. Good grades, good attitudes, a smile every now and then, helping around the house. And in exchange for that they get swimming (me), trips to Europe (me) or Florida (her) or downtown Atlanta museums (me) and other cool places (both of us) with their schools. New dance shoes, make up, costumes (her), dinners out, food on the table, nice warm beds and better than decent clothes (both of us). Why then, is it so difficult for them to do what needs to be done without us having to ask?
I fold their clothes and put them on the stairs. They walk right past.
She ties up the trash and puts it by the back door. They put things in the tied up trash and walk right past.
I make the dinner at 10am, just so they have something made and ready. They complain that they don’t like it.
I know this isn’t just me. I know it.
But sometimes …
During times like this I need to remember that little story about the Silent Mother. The story about the workers who build the cathedral and are never thanked or acknowledged. I know there is a purpose to all this, and I also know that if I do this job correctly, one day … ONE DAY … they will come back because they want to be here. Because they know how good they have it, this place makes them the happiest, and I will have taught them by example how to create such a place for their families.
But until then … the struggle is definitely a struggle sometimes.