“Her children praise her…” –Proverbs 31:28 (CEV).
Even though I have a multitude of conveniences most of us consider necessities, I occasionally enjoy washing dishes by hand. I didn’t buy my first dishwasher until my second son was born in 1981.
My generation was raised to believe women did all the housework. Times have changed. My generation had mothers who were stay-at-home moms. Most of us came home from school to homemade snacks followed by a made-from-scratch dinner.
My mother seldom bought store-bought cookies, and although T.V. dinners debuted the year I was born, they weren’t a regular staple on our kitchen table. Pre-made or convenience meals were almost unheard of during that time. Eating out was a luxury and fast food was a rare treat.
Because dishwashers weren’t commonplace in households until the 1970s, my sister and I learned to wash and dry dishes without the advantage of a machine. I can recall our mother inspecting the dishes to make sure we had properly cleaned all food residues from the interior and exterior of each one. If we overlooked any remnants, she would promptly return the dish to the sink for another scouring.
While I’m sure my sister and I didn’t appreciate it at the time, my mother’s desire to teach us to do a good job and take pride in whatever we did carried over to other areas of our lives. Instilling responsibility in her daughters meant we completed a list of chores posted on the refrigerator every Saturday morning before we went out to play.
Even though we didn’t have the conveniences now taken for granted, I think life was much simpler back then. The days of hand washing and drying dishes, preparing healthy food at home and hanging clothes on an outdoor line to dry had some benefits.
I contemplated this recently as I washed and dried a sink piled high with dirty dishes. I hadn’t started my full dishwasher yet. Busy with activities that had kept me on the run, I knew my mother, if she were alive, would have lectured me about the mess. However, I found solace in the simple task of putting my hands in the soapy water, scrubbing and rubbing until each dish and piece of silverware was clean.
Another word for solace is peace. After hectic days of rushing from one activity to another, I found comfort in a simple task requiring no thought, no conversation and no planning.
During that peace-filled time, my thoughts turned to my Creator who knit me together in my mother’s womb. Letting His peace settle around me like a blanket of love, I thanked Him for a mother who taught me the value of responsibility and doing my best.
After my mother died in July 2004, my sister and I discussed those things she had taught us. More than a homemaker who cooked from scratch and made all of our clothes, she taught us organizational skills and instilled in us a work ethic remaining today.
My mother also modeled compassion. Whether it was home-baked food or a kind word, she reached out to others in need. She instilled in her daughters a legacy that only love can buy.
As Mother’s Day approaches, consider the following anonymous quote: “No gift to your mother can ever equal her gift to you—life.”
Are you praising her?
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