When I tell people what I do for a living, I get mixed reactions. I hear everything from "Wow, that's exciting," to "You're beyond crazy!" I can totally understand both reactions and must admit I've thought both these very same things about what I do. On most given days, I am beyond excited to know that I love what I do and that is taking one man's discarded trash and making it into another's treasure. But I'll admit there are some days when I ask myself, "Have you gone completely and utterly mad, girl?!!!"
While most people are talking about retiring at my age, I have barely gotten started doing the thing I didn't know I wanted to do once I grew up. Instead of starting to complete paperwork for Social Security and Medicare (which I'm not there yet, but getting alarmingly close!), I am crawling into attics to look at spaces and suiting up for some of the dirtiest work I've EVER done in my life! I go home at night with tired, aching muscles, covered in dirt sometimes from head to toe, and soaked with sweat all the way down to my granny panties. I hop in the shower, scrub the heaven-only-knows-what out of my scruff of graying hair, and slip into my nightgown. I hit the sofa with something good to eat and watch TV until my eyes can no longer stay open, head to bed, and sleep through the night most times like a baby.
For the most part, it's a good life. If I have any regrets, it's that I didn't start renovating houses earlier in my life. But those were days of rearing children and keeping house mostly, and I was mostly happy and have no regrets about that part of my life. But the regret comes in when I think about how having a career back in those days might just have made me happier and, in the long run, a better wife and mother. But, alas, life is lived forward, not backwards, and hindsight is 20/20, isn't that how the saying goes? I have had numerous occupations over the years, mostly which included clerical/office work (semi-liked), insurance jobs in sales and claims (pretty much hated), care giving (uh, not so much), and legal transcription (pretty good job), and photography (which I still love, but which now takes a backseat in my work, except for family and close friends, and photographing jobs that we renovate for the website). Photography is still simmering on the stove, but mostly in the realm of renovation work. But I always try to remember that sometimes we are meant for things at certain seasons in our lives, and that maybe earlier on I didn't have the drive, the stamina, or the wherewithal to be a house renovator. And, yes, you CAN have more stamina later in life; it is a possibility!
So here we are, deep in the throes of another renovation, which is proving to be the most fun I've ever had. As you know, our last reno was the most extensive to date, but this one will come in a close second, or possibly could move up to fill that "most extensive" status as the job moves forward. As I've stated in prior posts, it's a 125-year old gem which has definitely seen better days. Renovating an old house is something I've had on my bucket list, and I am so excited to get to finally cross it off -- but who knows how long it will take? Every single day, we suit up in our protective gear, put on a little Earth, Wind, & Fire or Aretha Franklin or Billy Joel, and rock out to the sounds of boards coming down, the reciprocating saw, and my favorite tool -- the shop vac -- as it sucks up literally pounds of dust and scum from those beautiful old floors and walls! And at the end of the day, we feel as though we have really accomplished something.
Now, I am not arrogant enough, unlike some people that I know (uh, men!), to think that I will always be able to do this kind of labor. I know the limits I cannot exceed even now. But I heard an author speaking about his new book recently talking of the younger generation we call "millennials," and how most of this generation have never done any hard work and, because of that, they don't have the values instilled in the generations before them that are made by the doing of said hard work. I COULD NOT AGREE MORE! When my generation was younger, we babysat, cleaned houses, cut grass and washed cars, worked on construction sites, helped our dads build things or worked on our grandparents' farm. Today, if you have a teenager who does more than exercise his fingers on the computer or his iphone, they are an exception to this very sad rule. You won't regret it if you make it a priority for your teenager or even 'tween to engage in some decent hard work. They will be all the better for it, and it will help build the character they need for real life!
As for me? This late baby-boomer doesn't intend to do hard labor for the rest of her life. For now, it's necessary and profitable for us to do some of the work ourselves and, odd to some, extremely gratifying at the end of the day. But it's getting closer and closer every day to the time where I'm gonna be able to say "You're hired!" as we pass some of the harder jobs on to subcontractors...every single last solitary chore! And then I'll be able to do the work I really love, designing the final outcome in my head and seeing others make it happen while I order them around!
Happy Thursday, y'all!
"We are made to work. We're made to live a life of gratitude to God by loving our neighbor and doing productive stuff. We want to teach our kids that the goal is not to be free from work, but to be free to find meaning in work."
- Ben Sasse
(Replublican Senator from Nebraska)
This one is for you, you beautiful mother.
There are few entities in life that evoke more emotion than mothers. Babies are destitute without their mothers. Toddlers cry incessantly for the comfort of their mothers. Preschoolers cling to their mothers. School age children morph from little guys who are an open book and tell mommy everything to teenagers who are moody, elusive, and believe they no longer need their moms...until they do. New mommies need their own mothers to help them learn how to be a mother, for there is no good-mother-manual that really exists. I've seen grown men cry like babies over their mothers. Yes, mothers are life's quintessential nurturers, and their role remains the same as they follow their babies into adulthood and beyond. There is no love like a mother's love.
I tell the young mothers in my life that they will never have a job as hard as being a mother. Then from the other side of my mouth I tell them that being a mother is the most rewarding work they will ever do. Now, there are women who decide for whatever reason that motherhood is not something they want in life and, though I personally cannot relate to that, I respect it. Not every woman seeks motherhood. But for those who do desire to mother, and through the miracle of conception and circumstances seemingly unbeknown to some, women become mothers every single day of every single month of every single year. Yep, motherhood is alive and well here in America and around the world.
But here's the thing. Not all women are good mothers. I sometimes wonder why. Is it that they just don't have what it takes to be a good mother...the instincts maybe, the sacrifice it requires, the magical ingredients that make up the decent and thoughtful and selfless person we call mother? For those mothers, I'm not sure what to say. I don't condemn you, but neither do I understand you, so I won't address you. This is for all the women out there who are mothers and who try, no matter what comes their way, to be good at this craft.
This is for all the unsung heroes who live a life of sacrifice for their kids.
This is for all the moms who give unconditionally every day without ever receiving a thank-you (and then they wake up the next day and do it all again).
This is for the young mother who stumbles through the first couple of months with a newborn baby who doesn't sleep.
This is for the mom who weeps during the night over the wellbeing of her child, no matter their age.
This is for the mother who, whether her child is one or sixty-one, never ceases to mother, never quits sacrificing for her child, never quits worrying about where that child is, whether they are safe and well, and how she can help that child become all she knows they can be. Because if I've learned one thing about most mothers, when you have a child come into your life, your world will never be the same. Having a child teaches you the greatest patience you will ever know because, all of a sudden, another's wellbeing overshadows your own and your own wellbeing is strictly and forever tied to the wellbeing of this little creature in your care. And have I said how much I believe motherhood is a totally guilty affair? I mean, now that's a whole other story.
Motherhood makes you question if you're doing everything right or anything at all right.
Motherhood makes you doubt yourself more times in a week than you did your entire life before becoming a mother.
Motherhood makes you constantly wonder if you're doing enough or smothering them with too much.
Motherhood makes you constantly wonder if you're gonna help these little ones become able-bodied citizens of the world or make them into monsters and outcasts or accidently kill them in the process.
Yep, motherhood is truly a guilty affair. But here's the thing. Guilt is a great gauge of a good mother. Now, I'm not talking about bad mothers who really should feel guilty, I'm talking about good mothers. For a mother who does her very best, having occasional guilt shows that you care about your role as a mother. As my oldest daughter has recently given birth, she has experienced such guilt. Is baby girl getting enough sleep? Is she eating enough? Is she gaining enough and passing all the milestones that she should? Is she safe and protected? Is she adjusting well? Does she feel enough love? It's a constant barage of questions that flood your soul and mind and heart until you fall into bed at night, exhausted and emotionally spent. I wish I could tell you that motherhood was exempt from guilt, but it's not. With all three of my kids, I experienced some measure of guilt as a young mother, and honestly there were days when I wondered why in the world I thought I could ever be a mother, because I truly felt I sucked at it. Some days you snuggle, feed, nurture, patiently teach and admonish, and do a million other things with gusto and you feel like a mega mom. Other days, if you keep your kids safe and make sure they're not hungry, even if you fed them a bowl of cereal for dinner, that's all you accomplish and that has to be enough because it's all you got. That's just how motherhood is. You always feel like you should be doing more.
But then your child does something miraculous. Maybe they sleep through the night for the first time. Maybe they have a playdate and they share their toys and show compassion. Maybe you see them acting out something you've tried to teach them a thousand times. Maybe they choose good instead of bad in their lives. And it's in that moment that you realize, Hey, I must've done something right, and your world is complete. You can hang in there a while longer. You can give just a little bit more. You can continue to work hard for this little guy or gal, invest in their life a little longer, and have the energy to continue training them to be the best they can be, and you can do it as long as they need you. YOU CAN DO THIS.
And THAT my friend is the mark of a good mother.
This is my official Mother's Day greeting to all the mothers out there who feel unappreciated. You are doing a job that has dividends like no other. You are investing in a life with eternal benefit. You are making the world a better place. You are sacrificing for the most worthy of causes. Just when you think you cannot put one foot in front of the other because of the crushing fatigue you feel, just when you think you're about to go over the edge because of the emotional rollercoaster of motherhood, you will exceed your wildest imagined abilities because you are a rock star, girl!! And one day, somewhere way down the road when you meet the end of life, when you think your mothering days are long over, your children will gather 'round you returning to you the tears you cried for them and wondering how they will ever live a life without you, and you will have no regrets. Every great work brings reward, but none like that of being a mother. What's that old saying...
"Mothers hold our hands for while, but our hearts forever."
And to hold someone's heart is to completely have them...hook, line, and sinker.
Motherhood is a great honor and privilege, yet it is also synonymous with servanthood. Every day women are called upon to selflessly meet the needs of their families. Whether they are awake at night nursing a baby, spending their time and money on less-than-grateful teenagers, or preparing meals, moms continuously put others before themselves.
- Charles Stanley
Posted by CC
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