As a child, I remember spending many summer hours snapping green beans on the back porch with Grams. Her hands were aged with spots and wrinkles, and her fingers wore vintage rings with a story. My grandma used those moments with me to stay in the present without worrying about what was next to follow.
It’s funny how those little, everyday memories are so deeply ingrained inside of me that even my senses haven’t forgotten what my young life was like in those times.
The smell? Marigolds, petunias, and (since we are from corn-ridden Indiana) the slightest hint of a cornfield just beyond the backyard when the wind blew in our direction just right.
I can still hear my grandpa’s lawnmower fading in and out as he lapped his way around the flower-infested yard. And all-the-meanwhile, Grams and I were obnoxiously hollering to one another, “HUH? WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY?!” when the engine roared too loud or too close to where we were sitting.
And even though I’m an adult now, I can still see that scruffy neighbor-dog running around the barn, jumping on our legs and licking our hands as my grandma shooed him away and shook her head once more with a disapproving mutter of “That dang dog.”
These are the memories I cherish, and these are the memories I hope to someday pass along to my own children. And, in many, many years to come, hopefully my potential grandchildren.
I want to be remembered the way that I remember my Grams. Because even when she had a million other tasks at hand, she always made time for the ones she loved. It was never made to feel like a chore on her end, even when it wasn’t convenient for the day she was having or the season that she was in.
My grandma had four children. Now, generations later, I am the first one in our family with four kids once more. And I wish she were alive to help me navigate this chaotic life she lived and loved herself.
I wish I knew for certain if time with her was so great because she was older, wiser, and had lived long enough to sift through to find what was truly important, or if she really was just that incredible. Because from what I remember, she consistently seemed so carefree.
On the days when the laundry is overflowing (which is basically everyday), I wish I had her mindset. The whole, “we can conquer it one load at a time” saying sounds so easy. But to me, as a grown woman today, it is so misleading. Through my child-like eyes, I really believed it was as simple as she made it out to be. But now that I am a mother of four myself and live with the day-to-day adult stressors, I know better. I get it now.
I know that it was an act of love for her and my grandpa to serve home-cooked meals a few times a week to their extended family at their own financial expense. It wasn’t expected by any of us, but it was appreciated beyond all compare. And, as an adult looking back, I can now willfully say that they instilled memories worth a lifetime. (And I still can’t believe that they never nagged us for always hoarding their Rubbermaid containers.)
Grandma and Grandpa’s house was where togetherness, laughter, the good chicken-and-noodles, and (don’t judge me, I can’t help my upbringing) Broncos games happened. It’s where Christmas was crowded, Thanksgivings left me overstuffed enough to unfasten a button, and where open humiliation was all fair-game until one of the kids — cough, cough, sensitive me — was in tears.
It was and always will somehow be my home away from home.
I believe it to be true that as we grow older and grayer, we also grow wiser. I believe that my grandma had a different outlook on life than maybe she did while she was just a young and flustered mother like the one I am today, because she had the time to distinguish what was important and what was not.
But I see no harm in striving to gain that outlook a little bit earlier rather than far too much later. So, as for the mom I’m striving to be today, I hope that I’m softened into the carefree and old soul that was the grandma I will always remember.
I don’t want to want to rush this already short life. But it seems the stressors of motherhood tends to fix my eyes toward the finish line without allowing me the chance of stopping to gaze at all of the goodness along the way. And there is so much good.
I want to slow down the way that Grams did, and I want to do it as soon as I can. Because, honestly, why would I want to wait?
Though I may have many tasks at the end of my nights that may or may not go undone, I’d like to nonchalantly bask in the truth that they will always be there tomorrow — but my family or myself might not be.
It’s okay for everyone to slow down. The stress, to-do’s, and goals in our lives will not be put to rest until we are. So for now, my goal is to be the kind of mother whose children understand the value in pausing life for a moment or two. I hope that, in me, they will always remember the simpler life unburdened by the oppression of adulthood.
May they too snap green beans on the back porch… and may they relish and appreciate the mundane task of doing nothing else but snapping green beans on the back porch for just a minute or two.
There is value in simplicity.