February 2-The Past is Present


by Judy M. Miller

There’s a small storm coming, purported to dump inches of the cold, fluffy white stuff overnight. One of our local weather-people shared the news with me during “a.m. drive-time,” on my way home from dropping the younger three-quarters at school this morning. Before we left for school, the weatherperson said it was going to be a “dusting.” How quickly things change…and don’t.

Upon arriving home, I began to sort through the kitchen, wiping down counters, washing dishes and sweeping the floor. Then I ventured into the mudroom, to take a load out of the dryer, warm and ripe for folding, and move the washed load into the dryer and fill the washer again. Yes, typical domesticity, but something other than obligation fueled me. My mental “to-do” list began to tick through my head and then it was interrupted by a conversation that I had with my mom decades ago.

It was a hot, humid, late summer afternoon. I was very young, around the age of seven or eight, and a severe line of thunderstorms was coming in, full of hail and the possibility of tornadoes. I had already slept through one tornado the year before and was surprised and grateful, as my great-grandmother said I should be, to be alive the next morning after seeing the damage it had caused in our neighborhood.

I was picking up and cleaning my room, without being asked or nagged to do so. After finishing I went and helped my mother in my brothers’ room. Aware that this was not my usual M.O. or how I usually felt I asked, “Mommy, why do I feel like cleaning and putting things away?”

“Oh honey, there’s a storm coming. It’s what women do–making things secure and tidy before something might happen, a way to prepare so that they can focus on the important.”

“But, Mommy. I’m not a woman.”

“No, you’re not, but you’re practicing to be.” And she smiled.

I mulled that over. I was not excited to become a woman. I liked being the tomboy who could keep up with and often beat my three brothers at their own games, so I addressed the other part of her comment, “What’s important?”

“You and your brothers are.”

And I smiled and felt all warm and mushy inside, like the best-ever caramel and hot fudge sundae–with chopped peanuts. Affirmation of my mother’s love, a comfort to me then and always.

The little things matter. Loved ones realize when you make the effort to “prepare,” so that you can take the time to provide the comfort and focus. Perhaps we’ll have to burrow in tonight or go late to school in the morning. But what I do know is that we can be together–safe, warm and loved–enjoying the fire in the hearth while Mother Nature covers us in a blanket of white.

I think I’ll make a pot of soup…

Judy’s work appears in parenting and adoption magazines, A Cup of Comfort for Adoptive Families, Pieces of Me: Who Do I Want to Be? and Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks Mom. She presented at the Stories from the Heart. Judy is an adoption educator and coach, blogs at The International Mom and Grown in My Heart.

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4 responses to “February 2-The Past is Present

  1. Oh Judy I loved this!! Your words had me feeling all warm and cozy inside as I read on!
    What beautiful insight and a wonderfully special moment between you and your mom!

  2. What an interesting segue, Judy, from cold and snowy to hot and humid, and yet, it works, doesn’t it? Your mother was a wise woman and it appears she’s passed on that significant trait. I really felt all soft and safe by reading this story.

  3. Thank you, ladies!

  4. What a lovely story, Judy. And very timely given the recent weather situation!

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