Love’s Labor

This past Saturday my youngest son and I had the pleasure of working for hours (and hours) on the back yard, particularly focusing on a bush whose original voice had been drowned out by nature’s noisy weed-bush volunteers. Throughout our work he literally gloried in the satisfaction of the process, saying many times “This is so awesome, Mom. I’m glad we’re doing this!” We were using tools: hedgetrimmers, pruner, saw. Mom on the ground hacking away at the base of a junk bush. Son using trimmers to help the process along. He was able to appreciate the progression from overgrown bush to original intent. And the co-labor. And this is the same guy who came out earlier “Mom, can I mow with the Reel mower while you mow?” I’d resorted to the fuming horror noise-monster since the lawn had gotten too thick. He wanted to mow. Co-laboring. 8 years old. These things matter, apparently. He clearly joyed in the teamwork. It’s what makes him feel more alive, purposeful. And we’re (he and I) consciously working on helping him be with/by himself. As the youngest of 3 highly connected, affectionate children, he hasn’t had to figure out how to just enjoy himself. He goes into a bit of a tailspin when big brother is not available. Mom’s doing a ton of homework lately or. Or she’s dead tired. (But she sure does try.) It’s the curse of the youngest, born into a brood and forming the identity within that sense of connectedness. Sometimes, no matter how much I give, I have to look at him and say “Go make yourself happy, love. You’re a great guy to hang with. Enjoy just you.” One day big brother will be off on his own… It’s a tightrope walk sometimes, determining how much co-laboring is needed and how much life just needs to do the work without parental influence.

piled high

We pulled a mountain of overgrowth out of that poor bush. I noted, after our mutual labor, that his ability to be with himself increased dramatically. To be content alone. Long stretches of time spent content with just himself. Was it that we had such concentrated hard labor together? We sure have cuddled a plenty, chatted a ton and. This. Filled. Him. Up. Was it that we accomplished together? These things seem obvious in hindsight but it’s not always easy to see the need until after it’s filled (and when you’re already working on so much else!). I spent concentrated time creating with my son. He internalized, through that experience, a sense of himself as effective, as a wealth of resource and strength. How much opportunity does our world give us for these gems? So much convenience in the face of nature’s insistence that we roll up our sleeves and dive in. It’s too easy to do things alone. I was not going to ask for help. Period. He leapt at the chance. A chance for working together. How do you facilitate the emergence of a soul into a healthy balance? How do you clear out the weeds of life’s overwhelming moments, the compensatory parts you’ve relied on all your life, the ones you made in too much time alone? Well, for a fruit-bearing bush, tools are essential… 

muscles required

It’s tough to know, from child to child, what will tap the resources within, what will draw up the wellsprings of contentment and what will simply isolate. A grand adventure with so much risk. And so many opportunities for even my own influences to overtake the original pattern of soul. I’m often reminded of how I felt with my firstborn’s arrival. After a week of realizing her vulnerability I wanted to run (and was in love with her too!), gutted and filleted by the truth of how royally one can hinder a life. And yet, life. Lives. On. And the tools needful are taken in hand, the weeds cleared gradually and…

scraggly promise

…the prickly blooming fruit-bearing creature gets a chance. Thorns and all. And the roots of those weedy influences? Hopefully they’ll be eclipsed by growth of the blooming wonder. If not, we still have those trimmers…

Sometimes. Sometimes I think this is the best we have. To just stay with it. To give the opportunity for that original seed to have full expression. It can be a sweaty toil of love. And appropriate that a son would share the journey and the work. Ah, and with such delight he had to take the photos of our progress. And it’s about the moment, about what is pregnant now. You can’t manufacture these opportunities. They happen. In fact, gee. The next day? Did he want to have a lovely bonding time dragging the branches up for the city to take? No! :0)

Guess what? It’s all good…

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8 thoughts on “Love’s Labor

  1. This is beautifully written, jRuth. I have been experiencing the same thing the second time around as a Grandmother and it warmed my soul to read the words describing the feeling, so well.

    • doesn’t it? i think he got the biggest kick out of using the pruner. it took some real strategy and muscle. we had to work together on some parts. tools and boys tend to like each other. but i dunno if i want to genderize it since my older son is not much into the tools of gruntwork! he’d rather find beetles and nurture frogs.
      thanks for dropping in and commenting…

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