Saturday, November 7, 2009


Today conditions conspired to create the perfect day for me to stop procrastinating and clean out the chicken coop. While we have managed to keep them from being horribly stinky or unpleasant (deep cedar chips and diatomaceous earth), it needed cleaned out before winter. Thus I had plenty of time to ponder on a discussion I had once with my very wise mother.

I was about 14 at the time, and many of my friends were doing ANYTHING to appear more "adult". My mom's comment was short, but it has resonated in me through the years. She said, "the real adults are the ones who clean up the crap. Our lives are filled with various forms of crap--we care for babies, and pets and old people, which involves physically cleaning up crap. We also care for the people who produce the emotional crap. The real adult is the person who sees what needs to be done, rolls up their sleeves and finishes the job, to make the world a better place--even when the ones they clean up after don't notice or care. By this definition I know some 12 year olds who are the grownups, and some 55 year olds who aren't."

Now that I am an adult by pretty much any way of figuring, this is more true than ever. It also reminds me of the gentle way she taught me that changing a baby is a privilege--to take care of another person's most intimate needs is a gift, and we, by our attitude can make it a time of wonderful bonding. She taught me that we never confuse the PERSON with the BEHAVIOR/RESULT. Thus, you don't say "Ooh, gross, you stink!" you say, "Ooh gross, let's get this stinky poop off of you". People are not their behaviors. Even when supremely bad behavior is going on (ie, screaming tantrums in a toddler, or alcoholic rages in an adult) the person still has merit and worth.

POSTSCRIPT-- Now I get to go clean up the flour. SmallDaughter just got a 5 lb bag of flour out of the cupboard, stabbed it open with a knife and spread it everywhere. BIG SIGH.

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad to see you inherited your mothers's wisdom. She spent her life in service to others including vast amounts of "cleaning up the crap", physical and emotional.

    It was a privilege for me to return the favor when she was dying and too weak to care for herself.