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Laboring through Labor Day

[These are the words to start the post that buzzed through my brain that couldn't sit still that skipped through the weekend that ended the summer that Sarah built...]
In the ongoing debate between 'can't wait' and 'apprehensive about' school starting, I'm firmly in the latter camp. Much though I tempt the children with excitement in my voice and hope in my heart, I'd rather it just stay summer. I've done the Labor Day holiday many ways; camping trips and barbecues and (in the investment banking days) charity picnics where everyone wears big hats; but since I've had kids going back to school, it's been a buzz of preparation and me looking at a list as long as my arm of all the things I wanted to finish, but didn't quite, this summer.

There are peaches in a box in the floor and another one with 20 pounds of cucumbers for pickling; there is a pattern I printed out for preemie-size diapers -- my sister just had a four-pound, nine-ounce baby Friday, teeny and healthy as can be; the laundry with special new clothes is still hanging on the line; the snacks still need to be put into the backpack; I haven't washed dishes since yesterday night. On errands, we stopped to pick up dill from a friend's house for the pickles, and Suzanne was busy with tomato sauce while her son played in the backyard, having already done "all the pickles I need!" on Sunday. Other friends are tallying up their weekend like radical homemaking box scores, three loads laundry, three pints zucchini bread & butters, two apple upside down cakes, 32 pints tomatoes...

Though Labor Day is meant as a break from work, we mamas seem to be mostly laboring. It's nice labor, of course, but surely not what the Founding Holiday Declarers meant. How did you labor this Labor Day?


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Oh, how we labored...

My 12y/old (13 tomorrow!) and I cleared a 15X15 area in the backyard of all of it's shrubs; the girl wants to plant a vegetable garden next spring. We're having new windows put in our house, so we cut back shrubs so the installers will have better access. I stripped the front door of several layers of paint, and it will get a fresh coat this week, if the weather cooperates in the evening. Painted 2 nightstands I sanded down a couple of weeks ago. A trip to the Rebuilding Center to donate some closet doors we took down.

Then the usual weekend chores....laundry, food shopping, etc.

We did squeeze in a little fun....a yummy meatball dinner at the 43rd/Belmont food carts Friday night. Pine State and a walk on Alberta. Fresh back-to-school, haircuts and a visit to Powell's.

I wanted to comment on your post last month Sarah, but didn't have my thoughts together enough to be brief... I spent the weekend at our family home in NM, sewing aprons and re-usable shopping bags. I packaged and froze 40 lbs of roasted NM green chiles for the year. On our way there we stopped at a farm and picked 40 pounds of peaches and 20 pounds of apples. I canned the peaches and made peach crisp one night for dessert. It was very close to a perfect weekend in my mind--lots of time with family, doing creative things, "putting up" and eating delicious food, and enjoying beautiful weather.

I do find joy in the daily tasks associated with home keeping and child rearing. I took a step back from a successful career in sales when my oldest was born nearly 6 years ago and have not looked back since. We're lucky. My husband makes a generous salary that enables us to live on one income comfortably. I have two boys who, on a daily basis, exhaust me. I'm not always as patient as I'd like to be with them. But I do not regret my choice to be home with them. My European in-laws do not agree with my choice to be a SAHM and they recently let me know about it in a big way. I'm still recovering from their harsh words.

My kids have been in school for 2 weeks now, and for the first time in years, I am enjoying 3 mornings a week to complete my SAHM tasks on my time frame. It's been lovely. I started the blog I've always wanted to keep but didn't feel I had time for. I'm not making any big moves in the world right now--no big sales deals, no corporate recognitions, no huge commission checks. But I know I'm having a positive impact on my boys and my family, I'm grateful to have the gift of time. Time to bake, time to can, time to nurture my garden and my family.

Our labor days are busy but not generally in this way. 4 years ago I labored in a different way through Labor day when my daughter was born. Since then and especially since we moved away from portland, labor day weekend has always been a big time family weekend (in portland) with 2 birthdays and an anniversary to celebrate and us always away from home. So... not much gets done. It helps this year that school started in our area last wednesday.

We cleaned one child's room quite thoroughly this weekend .. it had a big case of messy buildup. We ended the weekend with a picnic dinner and chance to see the swifts at Chapman elementary last night. The weather and the birds were delightful. What a great way to end the summer!

I labored in my kitchen, which is really a labor of love for me. We spent Saturday at the farmer's market & other errands to get ready for school. Then Sunday night thru Monday night were spent prepping food and meals for the next few days & weeks of school. I've not yet sat down to share all the meals at Feed Our Families (but plan to this week), but the tally was: 3qts + 3pts of pasta sauce, 2 meatloaves, 3.5 qts of chicken broth, 3 mexican tortes, 7 cups of granola, macaroni + cashew cheese for dinner/school lunch (+ enough for a 2nd round later). I cannot put one more thing in my freezer, fridge or pantry.

I wanted to start this comment with a self-lashing for everything I didn't get done. But first I'll list what I *did* get done:
-drove to two separate stores for new school shoes, successfully purchased two pair while navigating bossy, "don't touch my feet" 4-yr-old
-finished sewing the back-to-school skirt, including using a serger for the first time
-made snacks. many snacks.
-read books aloud. many books.
-gathered about 17 errant library books.
-purged the kid's closet and drawers.
-made muffins.
-cleaned up a flooded basement, the result of a child "wanting to give the cat a drink," plugging the bathroom sink, and leaving the room
-wrote copy for the school fundraiser
-supervised 4-yr-old in packing of lunch. tapped fingers through this 45 minute process.
-fought back the wave of clutter and laundry. partial victory.
-thought about roasting the rest of the Hatch chilis.

If I look at that way, I did OK. And that was just Monday.

I'm so impressed with you all! AT, wow, your accomplishments are more than o.k. Gina, you're making me so hungry right now. Sw mom, teehee to the messy buildup -- I know the feeling :) Allison, that's *really* labor. Leah, your weekend sounds magical! Sheryl, I love to hear about tweens (today, a teen! wow!) taking projects like that on. let us know how it goes!

Leah, I just had to give you my support in place of your in-laws. I've had my FIL give my husband quite a bit of grief that I am not working full time, and the words are just out of line. I don't see where it's much of his business, but I've learned to let it roll off my back. Hang in there!

Ah, Tracy, Thank You! I chalk a lot of their feelings up to cultural differences, but it did hurt. I'm looking forward to the time when I can let it slide too, as I'm confident in our choices and I'm enjoying every minute of my time with my kids while they are young.

This is one of the reasons I have loved uM for so many years...Motherhood is hard. All of us make different choices for different reasons. But there is a sense of mutual respect and support that I just adore, especially when it comes from someone I've never met. Thanks!

I had to work; I'm at a higher-education institution that holds classes on Labor Day. Staff have the day off, and some faculty, but those who teach are expected to be there. Had I not been working I would have been doing the usual weekend chores -- laundry, paying bills, doing dishes, grocery shopping. Even though I'm the primary wage-earner in my household it seems I also have the bulk of responsibility for chores, too, which my partner and I have not been able to find an alternative to even after 16 years of marriage.

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