I get two cords of firewood delivered every November. Then it takes me a month or so to stack it all. It’s usually thirty degrees or less and some times it snows. This year the two cords were delivered on Monday. I thought “This is great, I’ll have all Fall to stack it, it won’t be snowing, I won’t be cold, no rush. Great!”
Thursday we start hearing about a hurricane. Friday we are told a cat 1 will make landfall and there will be “rain of biblical proportions” and to “protect life and property at all costs”. I mean the drama.
I take in all my pool furniture and I stand staring at the wood pile. It’s taller than me. By a lot. And then I’m picturing logs becoming torpedoes in 80 mph winds. So Friday I start stacking.
It was 88 degrees and what felt like 100% humidity here. I was dripping sweat. My sons came out and helped. It was honestly the cutest freaking thing. Those little dudes walked dutifully with me back and forth with the wheelbarrow as we filled it with logs then stacked the logs in the garage and on our stands outside.
I did promise them money and they negotiated up to 20$ “paper money Mama, not the coins”. At one point one of them stopped and looked at me and said, “You’re a good Mama, you’re doing a good job.” Through my huffing and puffing I tried to smile and say thank you. At the end of Friday’s stacking we jumped into the pool and I took them for ice cream. At some point my neighbor stopped over with his wheelbarrow and helped with a few loads. Unasked and purely because he’s kind.
The boys asked if I was paying him. We laughed, and I said no, sometimes people are just kind. He has daughters in their 20’s and I think he was imagining them attacking that woodpile by themselves.
Saturday came and it wasn’t any cooler or less humid or less dramatic with the forecasts. Back and forth we went some more. The boys still helping, and trying to angle for more cash. I mean they are good at bargaining maybe law school is in their futures.
By Saturday evening there was less than 1/2 cord left on the driveway which was secured under a tarp with stakes and 80 lb deck umbrella stands.
By Sunday night we had received a lot of rain, a few gusts maybe up to 40 mph, and otherwise a dreary day. No firewood torpedoes thank goodness and no cat 1 hurricane in sight. So that was anti-climatic but I’ll take it because I wasn’t looking forward to no power for a week.
Sometimes it is in the monotony of a task like stacking firewood that we have the most meaningful times with our children. In a simple act they were taught many lessons.
They were taught the importance of preparing for a storm, they were taught we don’t quit at something even when we are dripping sweat, cranky from the heat, and our muscles are screaming. They learned the kindness of neighbors can be just that. Kindness. Without motive. They learned that Mama can handle a pending crisis with general calm and determination.
They were told at one point they had reached their maximum reimbursement of 20.00 each and they could stop or not it was up to them. They both went silent with their bargaining and trudged onward with me even though they wanted to come inside and watch tv. I told them they could and I wouldn’t be upset with them. It had been a long hot couple days, and I sincerely told them they could go inside and be done. But they knew I wasn’t done and didn’t want me to be alone.
They could have stayed inside watching tv. They could have played in the yard with the sprinkler. They could have ridden their bikes on the driveway. But they worked hard. They took pride in their work, and I praised them constantly for how well they were doing.
Stacking firewood is not sexy or glamorous. I broke a fingernail. My hands and arms and abs and legs are sore. I literally was soaked with sweat. Dripping like at hot yoga. I smelled. They smelled. There were ants. Pincher bugs. Spiders.
Kids watch us. They see us. When Declan told me I was a good Mama I melted inside. I don’t think he was saying I’m a good Mama because I stack firewood. He said it because he knew it was miserable but I persevered. I didn’t complain. I stayed positive and kept talking about how great it will be to jump in the pool. He said it because in that moment he admired me.
Now that I’m not dripping sweat and trudging through flying ants with wheelbarrows full of firewood I think back to that moment when we made eye contact and he said that and I smiled and said “Thanks bud. I love you.” And Jackson said, “What about me Mama?” and we laughed and I said, “Love you too buddy”. Then we had a second where we all just beamed at each other then I leaned over to throw another log into the wheelbarrow.
It was less than five seconds. That one moment. Treasure the moments. Teach through experiences. If parenting has taught me anything it’s to appreciate the moments. Because in the next moment I was probably yelling at them to stop fighting. Parenting also has taught me how much they see us. For some one who likes to remain on the periphery and not be the center of attention, it’s taken some getting use to for me. Two humans have their eyes and ears on me at. all. times. It can be a lot for an introvert.
Stacking wood can seem unimportant but they learn lessons from everything we do. Everything we prioritize and don’t; they see. It’s a huge responsibility- these little humans. Sometimes I feel like I’m doing everything wrong. But in that moment, by the woodpile, seeking their admiration even if just for a second, I felt like yes! Mom win.
(The meme/title picture is just because it made me laugh. Jackson in particular and I have had that exact scene regarding dinner. I told him he didn’t need to eat it but that it would be there in the morning for breakfast. It was there in the morning for breakfast. He ate it.)