There comes a time in most everyone’s lives when they have to decide to accept help.
I don’t know why this is such a hard thing to do, but rest assured that my blue jean mending skills would not be honed nearly as well if I had farmed that project out.
Of course, no one offered to help me with that awful, tedious-and on the worse pairs of jeans-stand-on-your-head kind of job.
I was folding laundry this past week and got to thinking about the time my mother came to help us out while I was on complete bed rest those six weeks before our twin sons were born. She was doing the laundry and I watched her fold the wash cloths. She was placing most of them in a pile of what she thought were laundered cleaning rags.
“You must clean a lot – this is quite a pile of rags,” she said happily.Motherhood is a lot like childbirth; you must forget how your children really are once they leave your home. She didn’t know that cleaning and I hadn’t spoken to each other since the Carter administration.
Those threadbare cloths were what took the grime off of us after we finished the last of the hog chores every day. I guess they technically were cleaning rags.
It was during that visit that I told my mother it was hard for me to let other people help me with my own work. We had a young daughter that I couldn’t care for at the time because I wasn’t to lift her or even get out of bed unnecessarily until the babies were born. She stayed with my in-laws all that time, and it broke my heart that I couldn’t care for her or the house.
My mother lovingly cut to the quick as she told me, “Sometimes you just have to let people help you. They want to do it,” she said.
Fast-forward to a young family and a farm economy that was upside down. It caused me to work many more hours on my off-farm jobs. I needed the help of my husband to keep things done in the house, and it’s safe to say he looks at those jobs differently than I do.
He puts that industrial touch to everything he does. Simply put, he believes that if it can be done in a small way, it can also be done in a big way.
One time he washed some of his chore clothes. When I changed loads I pulled out two pair of insulated coveralls, an insulated winter coat, two pair of gloves and two pair of jeans.
I would have paid to see that wrestling match as it all went into the washer.
Besides the fact that there couldn’t have been any room in there for water, I estimated it would have taken less time for the ground to dry for spring tillage than it would take for that single load of clothes to get dry. Even I could have a beard by the time that happened.
That same year he helped me make some Christmas candy and deemed that the process of dipping the candy in chocolate was inefficient because I was doing them one at a time.
He retrieved a large slotted spoon and pitched six pieces of candy into the chocolate, tossing them with that spoon and scooping them all up at once to let them drip. He fought them off of the spoon while trying to make them look like they hadn’t already been eaten once.
After I told him I couldn’t give those away because of the way they looked, my mother’s advice came back to haunt me again. In fact, I did need the help – and I did end up giving those candies away that year.
I just told people that the kids helped me with them. I just didn’t tell them it was the big kid.
He did make the job a little less time-consuming, though.
I just decided it didn’t matter how they looked as long as I didn’t have to spend all night trying to make them look tantalizing.
Looking in the mirror, it seems I exercise that same thought process most mornings, too. Sometimes I have to help myself.
After all, I have a ton of blue jeans to get mended.
Schwaller is a Farm News correspondent from Milford. Reach her by e-mail at email@example.com and at www.karenschwaller.com.
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