"Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to let you in."

-- Robert Frost

Monday, April 16, 2012

general management

The day begins as usual.  Supervised lunch making, hot breakfast served, personal spaces cleaned and straightened, homework evaluated, planners signed, chauffeuring done, kisses and encouragement given.

The remainder is quiet but full of general cleaning, doctor appointments kept and more piled on the planner, health insurance cares managed, some early childhood learning and entertainment of a toddler, church service needs fulfilled, and a healthful dinner in the making.

The newly arrived children stand around my kitchen vying for an opportunity to share their day. Little Grant continually interjects excitedly, "Wanna know what happened today??"  Just a minute, someone else is talking, wait your turn ... and finally he, and the others, drifted off to homework.

Dinner comes and we sit bonding over companionable conversation.  "NOW can I tell what happened today??"

"Yes Grant!  Do tell us," I say, trying not to sound like he'd been forgotten in the hub.

"Megan Hinton threw up on the bus and it came out her NOSE!!!"

Some giggles, a mother's pinched smile, plates push aside, appetites subsided, all move into the clean up and family devotional.  It's a valued time set aside each evening for our family to read scripture, share a spiritual thought and pray together before heading off to bed.

Not always the pretty day as often a monkey wrench is thrown into the juggle.

I leave Christian home to wait for the younger kids to come off the bus while I run to retrieve Annie from track practice.  The weather's nice and the walk from the bus is good exercise. They'll be fine.

Christian calls my cell, "Mom ... Grant threw up on the bus.  I drove the tractor to the stop to get him.  He's pretty messed up."

"Strip him down and put him in the bath... I'll be home in minute to take it over."

The three phone messages from Mike the Bus Driver tell the sordid tale. And all the while, I'm out of pocket.

Urgent, "Hi, this is Mike, Grant's not feeling good, can you meet me at stop one?"

Dejected, "Hi .... this is Mike ... Grant threw up on my bus .... I'm at the top of your road."

Irritated, "Hi,this is Mike, bottom of your road, cleaning the bus, come get Grant."

That's when Christian finally hears the message machine blaring because my children don't answer the phone.  That assignment's left to me. Thankfully, he responds and rescues Grant from his embarrassing fate.

Janie's home and full of the story.  Grant lost it right before getting down the steps off the bus.

Everyone teases the deathly pale boy, incredulously, "Two steps to go, TWO STEPS to go? .... Run, don't walk, Man! But whatever you do get off that bus!!!"  accompanied by sympathetic laughter and "But, did it come out your nose?"

Poor Grant.  Poor Mike.

Amid the usual chores, I bake rolls the next day and gather the best of a still warm dozen, a pint jar of honey and a note expressing my gratitude to a man with a thankless job willing to be present when I just can't be everywhere I'm needed to be.

And then I hide in the car behind dark glasses as kids make the delivery, unable to face Mike directly ... yet.

Christian gives me a run for my money all week, like managing a difficult employee.  I fluster at him a time or two and then remember his care for his brother ... even with the incessant teasing, and try to encourage a more positive result.

I recall a recent Sunday lesson given and feelings expressed over young men helping our ward's special needs boys fulfill their duties.  I know Christian to be one of those who has taken a couple of these precious boys under his wing to help, be a friend and advocate of. Sometime I forget, when his teasing reaches great heights, that really he is soaking up at least some of what we are teaching at home.  That he is becoming just like I am trying to become and sometimes it takes another's reminder for a blind mother to see.

Every time I get into the car with Celia as the driver, I feel like I'm putting my life on the line. Bless her heart.  She's so analytical about trying to focus on her hands and braking and car functions and feet and road rules and cars behind and beside and approaching.

I might be able to say that life felt a little easier when cares were of band aids on her knees rather then if she might kill or be killed, today.

In spite of her driving fears, she's gotten so good at going into the grocery store with my debit card and my list, getting exactly what I need and sticking to our pre-determined budget.  It'll just take time to conquer "Driving Miss Daisy" so I pull out extra patience. Because after all, she's learning life skills and some of them are hard.

During the week, we hit the grocery store during rush hour.  I know it's stressful on her but it's necessary to learn. Time to merge into very busy traffic where it's all moving so fast.  I talk to her calmly and she steels her nerves to make a move.

A fellow waits behind us, allows irritation to take over and lays on the horn.  Not a simple lay on the horn, but the kind that keeps a continuous stream of siren going until shouting, he angrily buzzes past us, scarring her teenage life.  Usually unaffected, over protection kicks in and I explode right back, directing words at him through the window at the stop light ahead holding both our cars captive.

He ignores my assault. Rude. All the way home I expound on the indecency of road rage. Then spend the evening's entire routine, feeling like a prime example.

My legs are stinging with blown out veins.  Growing another human is both amazing and amazingly hard.  My doctor gapes at this month's jump in baby growth.  Guess that explains why everyone I pass has something smart to say about my size.  And we still have months to go.

I ask him if our due date is off and he replies, nonchalantly upon thumbing through my chart, perhaps five or six days in my favor but for now, we'll keep things as they are.

Clearly he's never given birth to know how much five or six 24 hour periods of time will mean in the long haul.  And the hard continues.

Eliza has taken to singing just one line of her favorite song over and over again.  In the shower, into the wind of the rolled down car window, as she continually changes her own pull-up diapers.  "At home, at school, at play ; At home, at school, at play".  It sticks with me always, the gratitude to have such a job, to be present for the little things ... and note to self ... time to potty train.

That sweet disposition can have a fierce underside, however, and the weekly church night routine of trying to haul the last youth out of the building ... mine ...  leaves her completely strung out at a much too late hour by the time we reach home.

I'm tired, I'm done, I'm alone and the only pajamas just aren't the right pajamas.

Is this a typical week at the office?

Time to close the books on this day.  With no reconciliation in sight, I sit her on the top step leading to the basement bedroom and close the door to her cries.  Leaning against the backside of the closed door, I breathe deep knowing I can't end it like this and then hear on the other side, the gentle voices of Annie and Janie coaxing her into dressing, wiping the tears, a tickle to get a smile and a hoist for a piggy-back down to the waiting bed.

And my shoulders sag under gratitude for a the development of such an incredible team.

This general manager of Linford & Company wonders if she can clock out now.  Probably not.  There's a teenager waiting quizzing for a test so I take my tired body to my bed and help from a less weight bearing position.  And then that same child carries on with conversation about the day's experiences, needing a listening hear till later than late, not necessarily a solution ... this time.

And then it's dark. And it's silent.  And I think on the career of raising children.  Educated, well rounded, socially adjusted, independently prepared, servers of their community and family, full of faith and individual worth.  A rising generation.

General management of the motherhood profession, one that women everywhere are in together. Some having one job.  Some managing two.  We develop our talents differently. Using them to assist in a family income or using them to build a family economy inside the home ... sometimes ever working to bring balance to both.  

Regardless, it's quite a responsibility ... an irreplaceable job full of rewarding experience and lots of room for growth.  The career title of Mother.  One with bonuses as hugs, heart swells for raises, board meetings around a dinner table, messes to manage, effective oversight of delegation, fulfillment the only payoff and, perhaps a pension plan of a future well taught generation.  The importance of which, not to be forgotten by any who work this field.

And then I wait breathlessly for my Senior Managing Partner to return from his latest business engagement.

A man's work is from sun to sun, but a mother's work is never done. 


  1. I'm exhausted FOR you. I wish I could help you. I wish I could say "send your kids over for a playdate and I'll feed them dinner"...wouldn't that be nice? :)
    Hope your husband returns soon.
    P.S. That was the sweetest gesture for the bus driver.

  2. I was saying "amen" along with your daily journal. I wonder how I am going to fit one more personality into this very full family framework we already have, and then I just remind myself that it will all work out somehow. I just need to do my best and then have faith in that Hope, that God will fill in the gaps. hang in there.