Some of my favorite childhood memories are from when I was 8 to 12 years old. My sister, two years my junior, our neighborhood friend, sandwiched between us in age, and I loved to play “olden days”, especially on snow days. My mother collected antiques, so it was easy to pretend. We would dress-up (complete with aprons) and spend our days living on the prairie. My mother would often light the kerosene lamps, and since we heated with a wood stove, our playtime felt so realistic.
We did, however, often encounter obstacles to our ability to live in our pretend world: CHORES! (Procrastination is a horrible disease, and I have suffered from it for as long as I can remember.) My sister and I (mostly “I”) would dawdle at finishing our chores for the day. Our friend would come and want to play. Of course, we weren’t done. She would come in to wait.
You would think having her waiting would have encouraged us to move faster. Nope! Instead, we would often get sidetracked and start playing instead of cleaning. Then the frustration of waiting would take over and our helpful neighbor would encourage us to get things done. She would work alongside us and graciously respond with an, “OK”, to any new motherly directives and begin the next task. I am amazed when I remember how much fun we had doing our chores when our friend was there helping us. I’m sure much of the fun was from stopping early in the process to dress-up so we could pretend we were cleaning our “little house on the prairie“. But just having someone to encourage us and work beside us made the load lighter and the tasks more enjoyable.
Today, I had to smile in reflective amusement when I saw the same dynamic in my own daughters. They had a friend spend the night with them, and have had a delightful snow- day. Although they weren’t dressed for the prairie, they were all dressed as princesses and were having a classy tea party. When I asked for the dishwasher to be unloaded, and the basement to be straightened, guess who jumped first. Yep! It was the friend. With her quick, “OK”, my girls dove right in and cheerfully completed the assigned jobs. (An extremely rare occurrence I might add. Typically, requests are met with moans, groans and as you may have imagined, Procrastination. – I guess it’s contagious.)
Seeing history repeat itself sent me on my trip down Memory Lane. And as I pondered those memories, I realized how much we all benefit from the encouragement and help of others. Our grandmothers were right when they said, “Many hands make light work.” Whatever happened to quilting bees and barn raisings? I am saddened when I consider how rarely we just enjoy the work of life together. Busy is the buzzword of the day. And we don’t take any of our precious “me” time to reach out to one another and share our lives, as well as our work, on a regular basis.
As a mom, I have failed – until now – to recognize that I can be the one to encourage and come alongside my children to help them with their chores. I can be the one who puts an end to the moaning and groaning by being their encourager. And maybe – just maybe- I have found the cure for procrastination – sharing the load. After all, aren’t we supposed to bear one another’s burdens? And maybe – just maybe – I can spread the cure by sharing the load of others as well. Join me?!