So, the thing is... I had a very fulfilling Mother's Day. 

This Mother's Day, I got exactly what I wanted.  Well, exactly what I wanted PLUS a nice roll of tape that had been lovingly gift wrapped for me by Ana, age 3.  This was quite a sacrifice for her --giving me one of the things she loves the most --so I was truly appreciative.  I could tell she'd been helping Daddy wrap things and I marveled at the folly of my husband.  You would think he would have learned from my mistake this past Christmas when she greeted him at the door with "Dad, we bought you a present!  And we wrapped it!  It's a DRILL!" 

But anyway, I got exactly what I wanted this Motherís Day.  And it wasn't the cards or the presents (except the tape, of course) --it was a chance to do something I'm just embarrassed to admit to you that I love. 

I got to mow my lawn. 

I know, I know, even *I* think it's crazy.  Especially since I spent my youth trying to avoid yard work at any cost. I'm the youngest of four and I always got the distinctly gross job of picking up the piles of yard clippings and leaves and whatever other disgusting stuff (bugs, dog poop) was in them and putting them in plastic bags.  That'll pretty much sour you on the whole idea of working outside. 

But now, see, it's a totally different world.  Now I get to MOW and I just couldn't be more excited about it.  We moved into this house last year at the end of July and I was confined to bed because Jane kept threatening to be born early.  So I never got to mow the lawn last year.  (This was actually fortuitous since the guy we hired to mow our lawn at the old house ended up BUYING it from us.)  I did, however, have a very positive conversation with one of my new neighbors who told me that when SHE moved in, she was told that this street was really unique because all the women did the yard work.  So she gamely got out the mower and went to it.  She's lived here almost ten years now and has yet to see another woman mowing her lawn. 

Until NOW.  Because I could not WAIT to get out there.  I lay in bed and just pined for the chance to cut the grass. 

See, I get absolutely no sense of completion about anything else in my life.  I am never actually caught up on household chores.  No matter how hard I try, there is always more laundry, more food to cook, more cleaning to do.  More endless errands to run.  As soon as I finish one to-do list, I have to start another --and that doesn't even count the three zillion things I do routinely that never even MAKE the list!  (Okay, so sometimes I write them down just so I can mark them off and feel better about having accomplished SOMETHING.) And of course, raising children is the same way.  It's not like at some point I think "Well, there now.  This one is finished. My work is done here."  It's a new challenge every day but rarely the clear-cut ending to yesterdayís. 

But with mowing, at some point I am just DONE.  I've cut the whole yard and looked behind me and I have seen that it is good.  It's not like I can stick around and mow MORE.  I'm done.  Finished.  Put the mower away and know I wonít need it again until next week.  Isn't that beautiful? 

I look forward to it all week.  I like feeling like I'm getting some exercise and I like feeling strong and capable. Sometimes I get downright jiggy and I cut those stripes into my lawn that you usually only see on really well manicured baseball diamonds. It looks awesome.   

The fact that I like to mow the yard presents an odd dilemma for my spouse, who unabashedly HATES to do yard work.   So, you're thinking, what's the problem? It just goes against his chivalrous nature to stand by idly while I do the yard.  (Plus, I suspect he's afraid the neighbors think he's sitting inside in front of the television, hollering for another beer every once in a while.)  So, he stands there in the window, watching, usually holding Smiley Jane or encouraging Ana to wave as I mow by.  He urges me to wear earplugs and he always fixes me something cold to drink and leaves it covered on the porch.  I appreciate him and I frequently tell him that, appearances aside, I didn't really marry him for his self-propelled Snapper.  Indeed, I mowed the lawn on Saturday, the day BEFORE Mother's Day, so that he could save face. "Iím mowing the yard on Saturday so the neighbors don't rise up and smite you for making me do it on Mother's Day," I said, grinning.  "Some people might not know that it's actually a GIFT to me to be given the time to go do it." 

"Well, Barb," he answered. "Speaking of gifts, I WAS going to buy you something but then I thought I'd just let you mow the lawn instead." 

Smart aleck.  I'm going to tape his mouth shut. 


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(c) Barbara Cooper 2001 

Barbara Cooper is the mother of Ana (3) and Jane (seven months).  She lives in Austin, Texas and hopes all the other moms out there took the time to do something just for themselves this Mother's Day.

There will be no column next week since we're going on vacation --a week at the beach!  It's going to be wonderful.  Sun, surf, and sand.  (But no lawn to mow.  Sigh.)