Grease and grime cover most things found in our shop tooling area. It appears that most of the items brought into the office, by my teen, have accumulated grime for years. The task is daunting.
Mom, wash these things off and I’ll put them back where they belong.
The pail of dishes, plastic and various tools overflows. I stand at the sink scrubbing with hot water and detergent to no avail. Yesterday I tackled the things I wanted to do the least. My one hour turned into seven. Today seems like it will go the same.
Most people take comfort in things familiar and routine. But the mess continues to pile up, screaming neglect. The feeling of being overwhelmed can paralyze a person to do nothing. To stay within the safety of their four walls, locking the doors and hiding the key.
The family business was established twenty six years ago, on April 1st. The blood, sweat and tears of my in-laws permeate this place, starting from a small rectangular tool shop to the much larger building in which we now reside. They utilized their entire life savings after their youngest son, my hubs, chose to enter the armed forces to fund his higher education. With less than $1,000 in the bank, the two set-out on their own; creating their niche.
And so I scrub, putting some elbow grease into the grime that has accumulated on dishes and safety goggles.
In their twenty fifth year of business, the in-laws sought retirement; grooming their son in the arts of metallurgy. At one time their daughter, also, attempted to learn this trade . Her social nature allows her to excel at her current job; having no interest in manufacturing. It is my job to keep the well-oiled machine running smoothly; keeping the hubs on task and providing administrative support. But oil gets gunky and can stick; making things difficult.
It would help if I had some idea of what he was doing. When TurboCad drawings and measurements are created and discussed, there is no understanding on my end. It’s not that I’m not capable. I just don’t want to know.
As I continue to scrub, after soaking the pail of items for some time, it is still difficult to clean. It takes effort to work off the grime to see some of the, still brand new, items beneath. With a little washing, scrubbing and polishing these things are good as new. My first tempting thought was to dump them and start all over.
Because that’s my m.o. (modus operandi). Why put in work when I can buy new and start over? A fresh new slate.
Therein lies the crux of my deep seeded issues. It takes work to keep things maintained and running smoothly. In marriage, in parenting, in friendships and communication. This, I know. The trick is in taking the first step to do what you least want to do. To put yourself out there and not become paralyzed or overwhelmed. As I scrub there are some things I must throw out, after cutting through grease and clumps of oil. But there are others that are gems. Beneath the surface they have worth.
I see the beige walls in a new light, possibilities. I have come to the place where I now want to understand what is being made in the shop. To know what the drawings and measurements really mean. I have taken ownership of my space. You don’t always have to love your work. What matters is that you give your best.
If you give your best, that’s what matters. In work and in life.
I will never have the things that most people define as success. I will never look like the supermodel on the magazines. I won’t have the fancy vacays on the French Riviera; own the newest and coolest gadgets or the house on the glossy covers. But I will know that I give things my all; for better or for worse; in sickness and in health; til death do us part. Living is about being the best person that you can be; even in situations that aren’t ideal. In being authentic and true to yourself. I want to cut through the grease and grime and find the value. What I am discovering is that, when you do the hard work, invest the time, or push through bad experiences; you find the resilient person beneath.
“Resilience: noun. the ability to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens.” Def. 2. Merriam-Webster Online. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 15 July. 2014.
“Authentic: adjective. real or genuine : not copied or false.” Def. 1. Merriam-Webster Online. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 15 July. 2014.
Prior to this discovery, these thoughts pervaded my mind…
When I stare into the mirror and really look, I find fault. And so I’ve stopped looking.
When I disagree with something I quickly criticize. And so I’ve stopped judging.
When I am disappointed with others I shout. And so I’ve stopped communicating.
I found solace in the white spaces. In the outdoors on morning walks, or in depths of clear pools; breath held. I sat in the dark gazing at the sky, the clouds. I reminded myself that the world was vast and that my issues with life were small. Humbled. I made my pact with God; to be better. To be grateful. To forgive. To be me. I beseeched him wondering what my purpose is in this life and where I was to go next. I stood at a crossroads and I wanted the skies to part, a fire to burn in a nearby bush with a loud, bellowing voice to guide me on my way.
But life doesn’t work that way. Wouldn’t it be nice?
The words would not come, thoughts angrily swirling in my mind. Music, usually the balm, became a distraction. It was in the silence that I could find peace; to reconcile my past to my present. Without the distractions of hectic schedules, homework and projects and works I consciously cleared my calendar to have no plans at all. To not do things out of obligation but because I wanted to do them. I still allocated my hour a day to do what I did not want; but it did not take over my time. I designated a family do nothing day.
I discovered the hidden treasures in my own backyard. I pretended I was at a resort underneath a striped umbrella, reading by cascading pools. And promptly came to the realization that I was in my own backyard with access to my own bathrooms and kitchen. I grabbed a bottle of red wine already opened. I didn’t have to care if anyone saw me in my seven-year-old comfortable bathing suit; sucking in my girth. I could do whatever I wanted. I generously poured the red cab and for over eight hours, read the book chosen for book club this month. When I got warm, I swam, when I got cold, I laid out. My kids happily gamed in the den, the hubs read alongside in the shade.
Simple pleasures. Reading gave me the intellectual stimulation I needed to self improve; to be better. Appreciating my four walls allowed me to overlook and forgive the flaws in my home and life. Claiming the space as my own allowed me to enjoy it; to be me in my frumpy bathing suit; comfortably.
It was this that I needed; to finally find the beauty; the gems beneath the grime. My true and authentic self. Our neglected backyard was now maintained; allowing me to remember its inherent value. The backyard didn’t need flourishing flowers and vegetables to make it beautiful; only some loving tender care and maintenance to reveal the joys of use.
My moment of clarity arrived on Thursday night as I stood alone amongst a throng of parents in a quad. Tears silently coursed down my face. In parenting these moments are few and far between, and my mind flashed to the years of driving to and fro; the countless hours and schedules making me wonder if it was even worth the effort.
I became overwhelmed, caught up in the tide of wanting the best for my children. More activities, more exposure, more everything. I became lost in masses defining what a successful child was. The smartest with the GATE status and straight A’s, the fastest swimmer with the j.o. times and the elite coach. The schlepping and doing hoping your child would get noticed for the works done. Parent conferences, IEPs, and counseling hoping my boys would adjust to yet, another move. Facebook, Instagram pages full of likes and friends to define my child as social and popular. The constant posts and tweets to show the world the fulfilling life lived. Who would know it was one second, amongst the berating and complaining people, smiling grand to pretend they lived the best life? Fake.
My children are NONE of the above; nor am I. It was in our painful personal experience in all of these things that has helped me realize our resilience. The music washed over me, the relief made me lightheaded. It freed me to finally close shut the doors and step out of the shadows at the crossroads.
My path became clear. I only needed to create the space to allow my thoughts to run their course; to taste them, burn with them and finally douse them. I finally could put my hand on the door, to close it shut behind me as a new door opened. I now know what needs to be done; to walk through the doorjamb and journey on my way. I am resilient. I parent as I want to be, authentically. I stand as the people pass me; bucking the tide. If you are comfortable in your own space, in your own skin; you really don’t need to try so hard. My girlfriend’s email with this YouTube clip came timely.
The dishes and tools are cleaned for the teen after working through the grime. They are ready to be placed where they will be best utilized. I am too.