It was an important week at our home. It always is when a family has a break through versus a break down. My daughter was able to express (and make me believe it) that she was/is afraid that I would become too obsessed, too consumed by social media (i.e Twitter) as to not be present and available to connect and interact with her. Here I thought it might be about her wanting me being more 'the maid'. My daughter has many personality characteristics that are very close to what my own Mama's personality was (her grandmother). You will see where 'the maid' plays a part in this.
There are various main components and vast family dynamics at play here on this one. The first one is I have a 'thingy' about not being 'the maid'. I do a maximum of 50% of all household chores including cooking even though my daughter works full time. 50% despite my Twitter addiction and now this blogging stuff. I usually 'hold the line' at 50% even.
Last weekend because of daughter's big bathroom project (scrub the walls, scrape the old caulk out, fresh paint, new caulk, etc.) she and I happily negotiated for me to pick up more than my 50% of the chores for this past week. It was a 'win-win' for us both.
You must know that my usual insistence to hold the household chore line at 50% for myself does work out well. It keeps us all together pitching in so that there is not the inequity of either my daughter or myself feeling the sometimes desolation of singularly being 'the maid'. We are 'the maids' together!
This Is Not Exactly Blame Your Parent
My 'thingy' about not wanting to be 'the maid' is a direct outcome of my own childhood. Mama was born and raised in the deep South with a sometimes certain sense of a 'Southern woman' entitlement. While very much family relocated from the deep South (I was not born there) and as the only daughter I was indeed 'pressed' into Mama's service. I had regular chores, I was given additional heavy duty chores. Mama was a supervisor, a daunting taskmaster. I'm here, doing these chores didn't kill me off. Sometimes, I just didn't think I would survive Mama's attitude.
It was just her style to show one quick 'how to' and then for me to 'get going' on it. Often my work fell short, she was disappointed and 're-do this, re-do that' was called for. I swear to you my Mama did love me very much, and I now suspect much of all this was an attempt to keep me interested in and at home. Being indoors was just not that 'cool' for me and all too often, I just had feelings I wasn't the daughter, but 'the maid'.
I vexed my Mama a whole lot. She finally had a daughter, a girl. A girl who did not especially like wearing dresses at all. A girl who loved to splash the mud puddles. A girl more comfortable in some kind of pants, with a baseball mitt, in the far outfield of an ' all the kids cleared and made' makeshift baseball lot catching flying balls. We played 'work-up'. A daughter who would grab fishing poles and head for the river at the crack of dawn to catch mostly pan size Rainbow Trout. (Mama did like the fresh fish.) A daughter who walked all the nature trails on paths not made by people but by deer and other critters. A daughter more comfortable helping build and shimmying up the rungs of a tree fort. A daughter who loved to physically run on all the back roads and logging trails. A daughter who loved to read, but preferred reading in a secluded quiet high grass meadow a half a mile from home.
A daughter taught to shoot a rifle (against Mama's objections) and taken hunting by her older brothers. Mama would have been happy to know the brothers often took my gun away once we got where they wanted to hunt. The brothers made me hike down steep mountain sides to flush any buck(s) out in their sites, so they could take a shot.. Mama would have been unhappy to know about this because doing so made me a target for any other possibly trigger happy hunter. Fortunately, nothing bad happened. Mama liked the venison, having meat for the family.
I vexed my Mama, she had a girl child, the only daughter and she was presented with a 'tomgirl'. Mama often had a wild-eyed, wild child girl with dirty hands, dirty face, messy hair, bruised legs and skinned knees. This was far and away from anything Mama had ever experienced or seen and certainly was not expected to happen. She had seven sisters. She and her sisters were all 'lady like' and did 'lady like' activities from the time they were little all the way up through their respective adulthoods.
I am quite unsure if it ever 'dawned' upon Mama that we lived in such a rural, isolated and low population area where outdoors was the 'way of life' for children plus the majority of available playmates my age or near my age were mostly boys.
Mama only had four things to 'combat the tomgirl'.
~ Home chores all year long.
~ Wintertime ~ school is in session, snow is abundant, the then 'normal' dress code for females was wearing a dress or skirt and blouse to school. Evening and darkness falls early, once the chores are done, homework tackled, there is no time to play outside. Wintertime Saturday, once the chores are all done to an acceptable level of completion ~ outside to play 'king of the mountain' on the snow banks or tramp out a 'fox and goose' course in the snow was often done by the 'tomgirl'. Even all bundled-up temperatures were such that one hour to an hour and a half would wear that 'tomgirl' out.
~ Church ~ as many church services in the week that were available, Mama kept the 'tomgirl' parked on a church bench, be it choir, Sunday School, Bible study, youth group, any service or church doing going on and always with a dress on.
~ Let's go visiting ~ Mama was blessed that several of her sisters, their husbands and families had also located to the same area. Let's go visiting means wash your hands and face, comb your hair, put on your coat and let's walk to Auntie so and so's home. Visiting was composed of two parts. Part one was inter-family news. Part two usually turned into a gossip festival of who's doing who and what is doing what, where when and why. Part two, I am a little ashamed to admit happened. It was 'the usual'. Such a low population area, everyone knew everyone else's business or thought they did. Everyone else's business would get all dissected, reviewed, hashed out. Often the 'tomgirl' would get bored, weary, groggy and find a chair or sofa to nod off in. On the return walk home, Mama would always advise "repeat nothing you heard today".
The NOW of It All
Mama is gone, she passed several years back. I'd like to think she would be happy how comfortable, happy and basic I am with daughter, Grand and the doggies in the home we now share. The exuberant exploring 'tomgirl' saves it up for taking the doggies on a walk or a 'ride out' if the temperatures cooperate. Every so often come May, we all get our fishing licenses, grab our fishing poles, gather up the Weber Smokey Joe, a cooler of beverages, snacks and grilling cookables and take a long ride to a lake or river. This year has a good feel to get that going again.
In 'rare hindsight' believe me when I tell you Mama did the best she could, the best she knew how. It wasn't her intention for me to feel like 'the maid'. It just turned out that way. I am now sure the truth is in Mama was just trying to figure out how to make a lady out of a 'tomgirl'.
I can also understand my daughter's current need to possess a little more of my time. So much of life is figuring out how to keep the right balance. It was very excellent mother/daughter progress that my daughter finally approached and talked to me about this 'time thingy' in a heart-to-heart easygoing well mannered way. Sometimes 'progress' can be such a nice word.
Giving Credit Where Credit is Due
This particular blog would never have been thought through and written up if not for Emily Frankel. I read her blog EM's Talkery regularly, she sparks my brain to comment. This sharing comes because I commented some of it to Emily.
Here is the link for you to find Emily EM's Talkery
I'm @grammakaye on twitter. ALL are welcome to leave a comment. If you Twitter and would like me to find you, please leave your Twitter handle (ID).