Friday, October 12, 2007

Lessons Learned at my Mother's Knee

I learned a lot of lessons from my mother. Many of them good ones - how to jump into a fountain when it's hot, how to believe in things you cannot see, how to put people before things. I learned a few that weren't quite as useful (she's only human, after all) - how to procrastinate and putter a day away for example. But the lesson I want to talk about tonight is:

Attitude Matters!

Sometimes things come along that you'd rather not do but you can't avoid doing. You might not be able to sidestep every unpleasant or difficult task, it's true, but if you have to keep straight on, you can choose whether to stomp through with a scowl or make a laugh and a jig of it.

I remember my mother and us kids doing any number of difficult, unpleasant, even seemingly impossible tasks when I was growing up. We painted, patched, packed, cleaned, cooked, did without, hiked, washed.... ad infinitum. What I recall most about all these times isn't the work itself but that we did it all with music, jokes, and perhaps a pizza party to celebrate the accomplishment.

Today I had to tackle tearing old baseboard heaters off the wall. I certainly wasn't looking forward to it, I've put it off a couple of days, but it was finally time to knuckle down and do it. I decided if I just took it step by step and kept a smile on my face, I'd be done before I knew it. I also decided to ask hubby to give me a hand. Sigh.


Now, hubby has many, many wonderful qualities. Oh yes, he has. Alas, whistling a happy tune while doing an unpleasant job is NOT. ONE. OF. THEM. No. Instead he must grumble, whine, scowl, argue, sigh, complain... basically make me regret thinking four hands would make a job go smoother than two. Clearly you can see the genius of this, can't you? It keeps me from asking his help on any number of projects he'd rather not be involved in. But every once in a while I'm desperate enough to have to endure his approach or, like today, enough time had gone by I'd forgotten how much fun it is to do un-fun things with him. NOT.

It's frustrating. It's annoying. But mostly, it makes me sad. It makes it impossible for me to recreate that feeling of "we're in this together" that I remember experiencing growing up. I admit he has every right to choose to be miserable - when he's doing something on his own. But when he's working with me and his mood is gray and grumpy, he rains on my parade as well as his. By the time we'd finished wrestling the baseboard heaters out and the wiring capped and back in, my positive outlook and smile were long extinguished and instead of sharing a high five and a "Good job!", I was holding up my hand palm side out and saying between gritted teeth "Just don't talk to me right now."

Okay. Enough whining. I try not to do it very often. At least in public.

Speaking of fun, I had an adventure today. Walking out of a shop, arms full of library books, backpack, and bags, I mistepped, turned my ankle and went flying. I knew I was going down, knew I couldn't stop myself, so I tried to "roll", minimize the impact. Once I was on the ground it took me a minute to get back up again. Hubby tried to pull me up - not a good idea. Shopkeeper came running out to see if I was okay. I was. For the most part. Mostly I was embarrassed. Did I mention I did this just a few feet off the main drag of town? Who knows who drove by and saw me laying there!

My ankle, hip, elbow and wrist all feel bumped. I feel a bit stiff (but that could be from crawling around on the ground through hordes of dust bunnies (and I swear I herded the last of them into the trash just a month ago!), wrenching nails, and climbing up and down ladders). Hubby said I got off lucky because old people are always breaking their hips in falls just like that.

Old people? OLD PEOPLE!? Since when did I become a frail, OLD person!? Hahrump!

I finished up the rest of today's project myself - most of it. Cleaning the floor that had been covered by the heaters (ewwww!), patching the sheetrock, texturing. I cleaned the walls I had left to paint, taped the edges, moved the furniture back along the walls that I'm not painting. I have to wait for the patches and putty to dry before painting so I couldn't do that, but all the paint and tools and prep work is ready and waiting.

It won't happen tomorrow as we're traveling to another away football game. Rain is forecast for the entire day for all of northern California. I just hope it's not snow over the mountains again. I'm willing to bleacher sit in the rain but please, no snow. Knock on wood. Just keep those snow level elevations up nice and high please!


Here's my only Halloween bit for the day - a nice pile of pumpkins.


Blogger Coco said...

My mom taught me 'attitude matters' too... and I've found just how true it is. Yet still at the face of a new irritating task... I always forget it. Thanks for reminding me once again ;)

12:42 AM  

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