Sweeping, synergy, and soapmaking

Protective eyewear is a must when making soap. Safety first!

Zack wanted to come over today and make soap. At the time he asked the detritus of pumpkin carving strewn about the kitchen floor, a sink full of dishes and dishes on the table as well. The detritus of Halloween decor strewn about the living room. This is what happens when you’re working too much, you’re never home,  and you do Halloween last minute in the few and wee hours after work and dinner and before you go to bed so you can possibly bear to get up in the morning and start it all over again.

I told him I’d love to, but…

“How about if I come over and help you clean and then we can make soap?”

Music to my mother ears.

And so he came. And as we worked together – Zack doing the legwork – returning strewn items to their proper places while I went to town on the dishes, I thought of my grandparents on my mother’s side, Grandpa and Grandpa Jacobs.

Grandpa and Grandma Jacobs canned peaches together easily into their upper eighties, possibly early nineties. I know this because when they got too old to get around as much as they liked, I often picked up the bushels of lemon elberta peaches for them from the then-orchard-now-half-million-dollar-homes-development just up the road from my house and delivered them to Grandpa and Grandma.

I gave up on canning shortly after I went back to work, but I recall it’s a long, messy, sticky process. And it was particularly lonely doing it by oneself. And I realized that it’s likely the only reason Grandpa and Grandma Jacobs canned so very long is because they did it together.

Then word synergy came to mind. I’m awfully fond of synergy. I love how synergy reminds me of energy, because when I am working with someone–feeling part of a team–it’s not just that we accomplish more than the sum of our efforts, it’s also that I feel lifted, strengthened, energized. I am capable of staying more focused and more determined because I am not alone. It occured to me that’s part of the reason we are born into families. We are meant to work together. It’s good for us to share the responsibilities of taking care of the home and it’s more efficient to work together.

The best part of working with Zack today was, of course, his company. Zack is easy, smart, funny, and a thinker. We spoke of friends, music, politics, and some of his near-future plans. Good company makes any task more pleasant. Time seemed to fly.

After some order was brought to the house, we got down to the business of soapmaking. And you know how I feel about that. Even so, I was reminded that even the fun stuff is more pleasant with good company. Zack is good company. We’ll have to do it again sometime.

If you’d like to see what else Zack has been up to lately, you can check it out over on his new blog.


Dear little boy in the brown coat

I’m sorry I scared you when I slammed on my brakes when you darted out into the cross walk in front of me this morning. I’m grateful I did not hit you. I tried to give you the “go ahead” wave so you would know you were safe. I watched as you raced across the white parallel lines, praying you’d be visible to all the other drivers coming and going just two minutes before the bell was to ring at the local junior high. My relief as you safely reached the sidewalk turned to concern as I watched you, still running, trip and skid across the sidewalk on your hands and knees. I hurried to drop off the four nearly tardy 7th and 8th graders in my care and rushed back to see if you were ok. I suspected you were not.

You seemed so vulnerable. So young. So small. So alone.

As I turned left on to the street where your body had so roughly met pavement, I noticed a maroon minivan pulled to the curb. My worried heart relaxed just a little knowing someone had come to your aid as I had driven off just moments before. I slowed to ask the driver, who was walking back to his vehicle, if you were ok. He told me you were scraped up. Our eyes met. Shoulders shrugged and then sagged with the same sense of helplessness. Clearly we were both so willing and wanting to help. Yet we both knew it wasn’t likely we would be allowed.

Not in this day and age.

I pulled in behind the departing minivan, hoping that I, a woman–a mom, might somehow be perceived as “safer,” even though it was clear the good Samaritan who preceded me only had your best interest at heart as well.

Realizing it was unreasonable to offer you a ride home in my car, I asked to see your scraped up palms and offered to walk home with you (immediately realizing that now that too would be considered unreasonable). I wanted to make sure you reached home safely. And that someone was there to attend to your wounds.

“No, I’m fine alone,” you practically whispered.

As I desperately grasped at alternative ways I could possibly help you, you quietly repeated at each new offer.

“No, I’m fine alone.”

I understand. But I am sorry. So sorry.

I am sorry that you have–out of necessity, I guess, today I wasn’t so sure–been taught from a very young age that I, a stranger, am scary. A threat. And dangerous.

I’m sorry that even though you were surrounded by people who cared–people whose only desire was to help and make sure you were safe–this morning you had to go it alone.


Hope and despair

Sometimes I get text from one of my kids in the middle of the day because all chaos is breaking out at home and they want me to fix it for them.

From work.

I can tell you that nothing I ever have to deal with or fix at work is ever as hard as trying to deal with someone’s crisis at school or at home or wherever.

From work.

Sometimes it’s a big knock-down drag-out fight and things are getting broken that may never get fixed. Or, worse, things are being said that can never be unsaid.

In all caps, of course.

And knowing that this is what is going on at home *while I am at work pains my mother heart. And, already being pained by all the things that I know are already broken and all the things I know can never be unsaid, I feel a little bit of despair.

Sometimes I go home and it doesn’t get any better until I go to bed and surrender (if I’m lucky) to the mind-numbness that is sleep.

Sometimes I go home and I plow through it and I try to be some sort of salve on the wounds of the day and I make dinner even though the kitchen is a disaster (you know, because I wasn’t home) and we eat together (or mostly together) and sometimes (but not always) breaking bread together helps just a little bit.

And sometimes a little bit later one of the kids that was fighting asks the other one if he or she wants to watch a movie together. And even though are other places to be and homework to be done, **I let them.

When that happens, hope replaces dispair.

All together again after nearly four years apart

Sometimes Sunday evenings are the best

I love my kids, especially when they collectively and spontaneously decide to strike a pose for awkward family photos at the family reunion








lest ye judge:

*1. I am working outside the home after being a SAHM for 17 years and because the spirit told me I should apply for this job. And when I almost quit the job the spirit told me I should not quit it, so I stayed. 2. I used to work only the hours my kids were in school, so I was still, in a sense, a SAHM. That changed over the summer, when I had to increase my hours and I am still struggling with my my work-life balance.

**Sometimes, particularly when you have teenagers, being a mom is about making hard choices. Maybe one of these days I will write more about some of the hard choices I make (see above).