My mother-in-law lives with us. Or at least for the most part. She stays with us for several months out of the year and then will go back home to Panama and spend some time there. She flew home yesterday after having been here for about seven months and will be back next month in time for Christmas.
Now before any of you go feeling all sympathetic for me having to live under the same roof as her, let me relieve you. It truly is a blessing to have her here. She’s an amazing woman really. Yes, she’s a bit hard-headed at times and somewhat set in her ways, but she’s a hard worker, compassionate, and strong. She speaks her mind when she deems it necessary and she will even call my husband out if she thinks he’s done or said something he shouldn’t have. (hee hee hee…ahem. Where was I?) She is an incredible seamstress and can make me a whole dress from scratch in just a little over a day. She speaks no English really except for the few words she’s learned here and there like “juice” for my 4-year-old, “be still” again for my 4-year-old, and “chicken” among others. The inability to communicate with her very well can at times be really frustrating, especially during those times when she’s talking a million miles an hour and I just know in my heart that whatever she’s saying is something I’d love to comprehend because she’s animated in her hand gestures and her voice intonation and it’s probably really good advice. It’s in those times that I nod and smile and ask God silently to open my mind and help me to bring just enough of what little Spanish I know to the forefront of my mind so that I might at least get a gist of what she’s saying. Of course then on the other hand, it has probably been our saving grace to some degree that we neither one can understand much of what the other says and therefore have a somewhat limited ability to offend each other. Well, although it’s still certainly possible to tick each other off even without words. Her first visit here was sure proof of that. Let’s just say that once we set boundaries and came to some understanding of each other’s expectations, things went much more smoothly. I’ll save that story for another post.
So anyhow, she’s not one to sit around and do nothing. She’s constantly cleaning, or cooking, or sewing, or something. Dishes don’t stay in the sink more than a few minutes before she’s putting them in the dishwasher. She has scheduled laundry days twice a week. I’ve offered to help but she would rather do it. I can’t always find my clothes without a bit of a hunt through the dresser but it’s still certainly worth it to have them clean. (I really hate doing laundry.) Also, she cooks everyday. I mean like a whole meal. My house always smells so good at noon when I get back home from picking my son up from preschool. And she’s constantly picking up behind him. Toys don’t stay in the floor long.
One of the first things she does in the morning is unload the dishwasher and then load the dirty dishes from breakfast. Yesterday morning however, she didn’t have time because we left early for the airport. Also, there were a few toys left out in the den floor as we rushed out. When we got back home from the airport and walked into the house, it suddenly seemed a bit messy. It was odd to see dishes in the sink. And last night, my husband had to work so it was just me and the little one (my oldest son was with his other grandma) and boy did the house seem quiet without the sound of her Panamanian music drifting from her room. There’s a level of comfort in knowing that there is someone else here with me. I almost forgot last night to set the coffee pot up for this morning. That was something else she did every night. Clean out the pot, dump out the old grinds and add fresh coffee and water so in the morning all I had to do was punch the button.
I’ve gotten so used to her being here and just in a single day of her NOT being here, her absence has been greatly noticed. Not just in the obvious sense. More in that I’ve noticed many things that are left undone because she isn’t here doing them. Sometimes it takes something NOT happening before you notice it’s not happening. I truly am very grateful for her and the way she cares for me and my family.
So I have to ask you…is there someone who does a lot of little things that makes your life a lot easier? Is there someone who loves and cares for you and maybe you haven’t really stopped to take notice of all those little things they do for you? In this season of Thanksgiving, I encouraged you to take a moment and let that person know that you recognize and appreciate their efforts and sacrifices, no matter how great or small. I also pray that someone in your life will stop and take a moment to thank you for yours.