I ponder this question, percolating in my thoughts. Like my coffeemaker it bubbles to tbe surface; noisy, only to get pushed down again. The aromas permeate my kitchen; triggering the sensors in my brain to awaken and deal with the day ahead. This question resurfaces, again and again, as my calendar continues to fill,. I contemplated this, at 6:42 am as I filled my beloved container. This is an uphill battle.
Whom do I serve?
My coffee tumbler sits on the credenza, now, as I look up from my work desk, the money tree looming above. It is happy; the cool autumn breeze and sounds of traffic ruffling its verdant green, almond shaped leaves. I hope it continues to thrive. It is the harbinger of our business; our lucky charm. I have two of these same plants in my home. I am procrastinating; the question resounding in my mind.
As the harvest moon wanes and the autumn equinox begins I consider this. My life is changing seasons and I think I have reached the “sweet spot;” the golden times with my kids. My children aren’t as needy as they were before, yet they still are within my control; my reach. I know turbulent times are coming, I feel them in the air, but I am enjoying the walk we are on now. The hubs reminds me, constantly, of this sweet spot; something he has yearned for since our sons were lain in our arms. When newborns the hubs wanted to be able to interact with them; to play. As toddlers he always feared for their safey; busy bundles of joy that tested limits and boundaries; physically. But as boys they are interesting, their minds growing and exploring by leaps and bounds. As teens I know they will test my mental mettle; my morals, values. My will, alone, will not keep them safe. I must mentally prepare myself for the letting go; the heartache.
As I packed lunches I pondered. I am the alarm in the mornings; the hubs the one to put kids to bed. I am responsible for awakening the other four members in my household; bags and lunches packed, breakfast ready-to-serve. I am the alarm/cook/maid/chaffeur aka MOM. When we first conceived, the snippets of motherhood I envisioned were of nursing babes in rocking chairs; their first days of school, riding bikes. The sleepless nights with a fussy infant, the ER visits for various stitches, the daily battle of awakening grumpy, testy individuals never entered into my mind. Nor did the daily nitty-gritty that makes the day wonderful or completely off-kilter. Years ago, I learned that I, the mother-alarm, set the tone for the day and my children’s behaviors set mine. If I am screaming and stomping at 7:23 AM in the morning of a school day the mood for the remainder of my own day is mired in guilt. What kind of a mother am I? And if it’s bad for me, think of how the kids handle it at school. It was then that I began to sing songs in the morning to awaken my boys. The iPod alarm clock rocks my household awake as I gyrate near their beds; shaking and quaking until bloodshot eyes glare back. But they can’t resist a mom that is rocking out! And so they begin to smile. My youngest can hop right up and join in the dance moves with me.
Obviously, I serve as a mother; first and foremost. But I began to reconsider this. Aren’t I supposed to serve as a wife, first? The hubs likes to remind me of my Christianly duties whenever he hears the Bible reading of being a good wife. I always wonder, when our little charges are out of the nest, what will the hubs and I do with one another? When the church sermon, this weekend, talked of whom we served, the answer, first and foremost according to Father Tom, is God. I am to be the bridegroom to Christ. Others are mired by greed; serving money, power & prestige; serving egos. When I do my works at my children’s schools, what are my motives? Are they so that my children get noticed? That they get special favors? Or do I serve the kids, the school population as a whole?
These are the questions I constantly ask myself. When recently I sat face-to-face with my sons’ principal, she voiced the question aloud as I shared my opinion. To whom would my thoughts serve? Are they for the greater good of the school, my kids, or is this personal? My immediate answer, at my husband’s lament, is for the kids. But I grinned at her, and she back. I allowed my transparency to show and she could read between the lines. There was something of a personal nature involved and she put me in check. I am grateful for the transparency; both hers as well as my own. It had caught her by surprise; my ability to speak what I mean. It was then that I knew, I can make this choice always. To be true to who I am.
I feel that I am a servant to the clock; Father Time. I don’t want to live with regrets; for one cannot change the past. I have to limit myself to the future; predicting something not yet here. I must ground myself in the present, the ordinariness, the mundane daily ins and outs. These moments are where I have the ability to choose; once I decipher what my purpose is, whom I am serving. In staying true to myself; to my beliefs, I hope to be a reflection of my Christian beliefs and values. I try not to lie. If I catch myself in gossip I will see if I am serving a purpose; seeking resolution. Am I venting to work through a situation or am I sharing to be catty; to make myself feel better. Do I need to share at all? We are imperfect, after all, and it is human nature. But I will question my motive; my intent. Thus, I am also a servant to ego.
If I, truly, am the bridegroom to Christ, will I break these bonds of servitude to ego; to greed? I mean, one of his disciples betrayed him after all. Just because you are a follower; does not make you perfect. The hubs loves to point out the hypocrites; I among them. But I will own that. I can only try, each day, to be better at my transparency. A person gains my respect when they allow themselves this grace; this ability to ask for forgiveness. To own their mistakes. Laying down self. Catholics are quiet believers, as a rule. For a long time our religion centered on guilt; we are sinners headed to Hell. We must do: works, prayers. Sainthood. But in my quest to understand the religion, chosen for me at birth, I now can appreciate the other things that make me own it. The community, the rituals. I can always rely on a church to make me feel at home. The traditional hymns wash over me; my mother’s voice amongst them. I am secure; reminded that I am loved for exactly who I am.
The hot coffee is warming my core; awakening my synapses. And I’m just getting started. My hubs is relieved to be able to read my thoughts versus hear them. Hours of his nothing box time are spent listening to me; his quip, I am here to validate you. Today he rummages around searching for tools, paperwork; frustrated. I do not serve my spouse very well. He is the provider, the one whose shoulders bear the burden of our finances; our quality of life. If he is not here, what then? I leave my desk and stand by him. I am helpless to assist, arms deep in steel coils and machines. I am hoping my presence is enough to hear him; to affirm. What he does, each and every day, is not for naught on this, non traditional path, we have chosen. Whom do we serve? Financial stability; the almighty dollar.
“I shall be telling this with a sigh, Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” ~ excerpted from The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost
Amongst this past, busy weekend, I found myself longing for poems from the past. The hubs had lain across my keyboard printed documents typed in 1997, amused at my writings at the time. I have forgotten my love for literature; poems. When I do have stolen moments of time I choose to read. But rare that I return to the classics and poems that have withstood the trends of time. It seems I am smitten with Robert Frost’s famous poem; remembering my high school years as we studied it. There are a lot of roads I have crossed and chosen to travel but I am currently, here; the unpaved; overgrown path. And so I gaze at our money tree; feel the chill of fall in the air and feel the diminishing warmth of the sun’s rays.
This past weekend I resisted the cleaning; the work. I did not want to throw a birthday party; nor did I want to go anywhere. I constantly reminded myself to remember my mother’s hospitality; her endless meals spread across our oval dining room table. I grumbled at my cluttered home full of kid paraphernalia. Much as I tried to console myself that I want this mess; my mind rebelled. I do not want this mess. I want my home to be clean, organized; orderly. Eventually I made the connection that this is my dissatisfaction with life; its messiness, unorganized chaos which I am rapidly losing control. I questioned my son and hubs’ motives. Did they really want to celebrate his birthday or did they expect something in return? I was transparent in my thoughts; to which the hubs had to call me out. What message do you want to send to your son? I had to readjust my thinking; apologize for my annoyance. But the thought never left me: Why DOES he want this party?
We had to take a break from the frantic cleaning to attend a family party nearby; a housewarming. I was agitated; tense, worrying about the party the next day. Fidgeting I eventually made my way into the kitchen; offering to help. I was given the wine and as I relaxed I could enjoy the banter around me; the extended family that lives 2.9 miles away. As I chopped meat my angst dissolved. Serving others made me forget my own fears and worries. It is in this way that I want to serve; sharing my talents without expecting a pay-off in return. It is hard to re-train what society hard wires us to believe. Whomever I serve; it must NOT be for glory; for gifts.
When, the next day, family members sat around my kitchen table; my couches, my patio I was present, with them. We prepped and made sure our cooking was done before their arrival so that we could enjoy the time they chose, very last minute. to spend with us; and our son. When, again, I picked up and mopped at 8:30 last night I asked aloud if it was worth it; my voice echoing within my walls. My son smiled; wrapped in blankets. Later the hubs answered, his deeper timbre resonating with my mop strokes. Our son knows he has family; that he is loved. It is worth more than any gift; that his family members would gather to be with him. Whom did it serve? All of us; a reminder. The age span of an 8 year old to 95; quality time, in celebration of life.