Tuesday, October 14, 2014

My Own Life

Not gonna lie. When I am staying with my mom, she works me like a dog. 

Wait. If Ranger's life is any indication, dogs live a life of utter leisure. Better pick another metaphor. 

Let's say she keeps me as busy as a bee in a field full of clover. For example, every evening, Mom gives me marching orders and critiques my progress as I am:

Cooking her dinner, 
Preparing her plate, 
Pouring her milk,  
Buttering her bread, 
Clearing her plate,
Washing the dishes,
Cleaning the kitchen, 
Taking out the trash. 

There often seems to be no end to the directions and demands, and last night, as I dragged four heavy bags of garbage out of the garage and into a rainy drizzle, I felt like I was twelve years old again. In wordless resentment, I recalled the frustration of feeling out of control, of forcing myself to unwillingly submit to a bossy parent, of knowing that my life didn't truly belong to me yet.  I dreamed, in those days, of all the things I hoped to someday become - college graduate, homeowner, wife, mother, adventurer, and all-around satisfied human being. I had no desire to help my mom with her life; I craved my own life. 

The rain pitter-pattered on my back as I double-checked the knot on each wet bag and carefully piled them in a big black heap by the street. Upon completing my task, I straightened up and saw this. 

Holy moly, what a sunset! Though rainclouds filled the sky overhead, off to the west, the gloom thinned and the setting sun brought the distant horizon alive with color. As I paused to admire the scene, a series of thoughts flashed through my mind 

West. The sun sets in the west. 

When I was a girl, "out west" was a magical idea. During my childhood years, I never got any further than Colorado, but the west represented an unknown, untamed frontier of unimaginable adventure, and a land of unlimited possibility. This vague notion of a place filled me with dreams.

Now, the west is my home. On the far edge of this continent, all my girlhood dreams for the future have come true. Granted, I graduated college and got married here in Great Lakes country,  but most of my adult life has happened in the west.

My four daughters were born and raised in the west.

I found my dream house in the west, and made it into a home. 

My amazing students and awesome friends share my life in the west. 

My adventures around the world always lead me back to the west. 

The west represents the life I have made for myself, a life that makes me happy and proud and satisfied indeed. 

Suddenly, the weight of those childish resentments flew off my shoulders and as the raindrops fell lightly against my face, I saw my mom's demands in a whole new light. 

So you know what I did? I marched back into the house, and asked my mom what else I could do. Because now that I have my own life, I am perfectly happy to help out with hers. 

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