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A Few Leaves Turn into a Pile

by Victoria Tkachuk  
2/25/2007 / Womens Interest

We had a lovely day in Chicago today. This time of year anything goes, but usually we are not blessed with May-like temperatures and sunshine like this. I had a half day of work with my favorite client and got to see my fiance for a minute on the way home, so by the time I got there I was feeling pretty good. I decided that, in anticipation of my dinner guests on Saturday, I would clean up the backyard.

It began with a small pile of leaves, then I moved on to the deck. Long after the sun went down- which I hadn't even noticed- I stopped in the middle of sweeping the leaves on the lawn (we don't have a rake, just a broom) with the thought, "I have officially turned into my mother." I was still thinking about that when my roommate came outside and asked what the heck I was doing in the dark.

"Just tidying up the yard," I said, though I realized then the lateness of the hour and understood her surprise at my work. For her doing yard work is less than desirable and, in fact, downright unpleasant. (All cleaning, it seems, is unpleasant to her, which explains why she never does it!) But still I couldn't understand her surprise at the work itself I was doing, only the hour at which I was doing it. To me, tasks of nature just need to be done, despite the enjoyment they bring.

That said, I have always enjoyed this kind of chore, any outside chore. I don't consider them "work" in the traditional sense of the word, as jobs you'd rather not do at all. I routinely volunteered for leaf-raking, weed-pulling and, if I was in a particularly good mood, lawn mowing. I could do without snow shoveling, but that's because I don't enjoy the cold. I have nothing against the toil of shoveling and I love the feeling of sore muscles; it means you've been using them.

Over time I've developed a sort of patented work ethic; there is work to be done and, by George, it will be accomplished today, sunlight or not. There are some tasks that cannot wait while I type a blog or start on a painting. I have developed a tendency toward doing outside work first. (I also seem to have acquired a subconscious need to wash dishes, even at someone else's house.) I guess you could say I've been programmed to work like I was raised to, and that means home (and family) maintenance comes before any personal endeavor.

I'm sure that, provided the weather was accommodating, my mother was outside pulling the last of weeds not killed by early frost, or raking, or cleaning gutters. Bless her for that, for always taking care of our home and our family, and especially for instilling in me an able and willing desire to take care of my own. I know when most people say, "I've turned into my mother," it is a reflection of their neuroses, some kind of self-doubt. But for me to see any of her in me gives me hope that I can't explain.

There is a needlework piece hanging in the hall of my parents' house that reads: A mother is a woman who can take the place of all others, but whose place no one else can take. How true that is.

If you reprint my article to a website, please e-mail me to let me know: [email protected]. I'm trying to keep track for my portfolio. Thanks!

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