Cindee Lee Sweeney, my Mother. She had a contagious laugh. She loved to have a “good laugh” (which meant laughing until your belly was sore and your eyelashes were wet with tears.) She loved to chuckle, even if it was at the expense of herself, or someone else. She would much rather have a good time than do chores, but she instilled in us the following lesson: work first, then play!
Growing up, chores were to be done right away in the morning. Then we were free to do the things we loved to do IF we accomplished the things we despised first.
The chore I dreaded most was laundry. I hated putting clothes away, especially for a family of 8. It would’ve made sense to have everyone be responsible for putting their own clothes away; which did occur, but rarely. It was more work to be the “laundry coach”. This job included going around the house rounding everyone up and making sure they put their clothes in their appropriate dresser drawers.
I would get in trouble if my siblings left their clothes lying around. So it was a tough duty. It was just easier to put everybody’s clothes away yourself.
I have 3 brothers and 2 sisters. When you’re the oldest you automatically get a majority of the tasks.
Every eldest child knows that fact. I would hang the laundry out on the line. I would carry the bulging heavy basket up the basement stairs and out the back door, and down the deck steps. I hung the clothes over the clothesline using all the clothespins we had.
Now, this wasn’t an ordinary basket of wet clothes I carried. Oh no, not normal at all. Sometimes when I pulled them from the washing machine they would be sopping wet and dripping with water.
My mother thought it was necessary to stop the washer before the spin cycle was complete. She was savvy. She saved money and water, but at my expense (yes, I’m smiling)
Not always, but occasionally, the jeans would be hung and they would drip, drip, drip, with water because they had been interrupted during the spin cycle.
Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t do ALL the laundry in the house, but I did help with much of it. Mom would do at least 2 loads per day, if not 3, so she expected my help. If she skipped a day of laundry, the next day she would have to do 5, or even 6 loads. Occasionally I would refuse and battle it out. It didn’t ever go well.
I remember the laundry basket breaking on my way up the stairs. Not from accidentally dropping it, or being too rough with it. Oh no, this was because it was so full and so very heavy! The poor basket was literally breaking down in my arms.
My uncle Ryan would grip my biceps. He would ask how I got these muscles. My answer was always, “I don’t know, laundry I guess.”
Some early mornings the hill was covered with dew. I would be outside hanging up laundry. As I reached up to grab the clothespins I would be slipping and sliding down the wet hill.
My oldest brother would run and hide in the woods when chore time came around, not every day, maybe every other day, he thought that chore time was a good time for him to work on his tree fort. We wouldn’t see him for hours. He’d show up at lunchtime.
He was careful never to give away his hideout. When mom would start passing out chores, he would vanish, almost as if it was mid-step (like the rapture will be someday.)
One day my sister, Tasha, and I were determined to see where (and how) my brother got out of sight so fast.
Trying to catch our brother, we may have had Walkie Talkies to be more official spies and more dramatic. We needed to communicate with each other the details of Tanner’s plan.
He put to use the phrase “out of sight out of mind”. If mom didn’t see you, usually you got away with no chores… maybe, at least until our bedtime chore routine.
One day we caught him. He whisked outside with snacks out the basement back door and through the garage! We finally had the answers to his masterminded intentions.
We told mom of his scheme. She had a talk with him when he showed up hours later coming up out of the thick green forest. By that time chores were long accomplished.
Mom chose to show him mercy. She was good at that.
Was it fair? No.
I feel like I was one of the people with the stones ready to throw mine at the sinner woman who was brought to Jesus caught in the very act of adultery. Jesus said, “He who is without sin cast the first stone.” One by one, the people left. The woman covering her face in shame heard the sound of stones thumping as they fell to the ground instead of on her. By law, they had a right to stone her. Jesus showed her mercy instead of judgment. He said, “Go and sin no more.”
Was it fair? No.
I was eagerly waiting for my brother’s judgment. It was like I had my stone clenched in my hand and positioned over my shoulder ready to strike, but mom showed Mercy.
Was it fair, No
I’m thankful for God’s mercy on my life. His mercies are new every morning.
Because of the Lord’s faithful love we do not perish, for His mercies never end. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness! Lamentations 3:22-23
Thanks mom for showing me what it means to be merciful. Thanks for teaching me how to do laundry and the importance of self disciplines.
I miss her wisdom. I miss her smile. I miss her prayers. I miss her laugh. I miss her.
Thanks for reading! What chore was your least favorite growing up? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.