Home » faith in real life » a real labor day

a real labor day

Today I’m doing laundry.

I’m shuttling to preschool. I’m catching up on email. I’m nursing the baby. I’m picking tomatoes. I’m prepping for a meeting. I’m paying bills. I’m writing.

I’m changing wet sheets, scrubbing oatmeal-smeared faces, washing grubby hands, loading the dishwasher, cleaning up after the dog. Reading and sweeping and meal planning and filing and cooking and researching and driving and washing.

I’m working.

Yesterday was a sweet goodbye to summer. All of us home together all day, morning lazy in our pajamas, then romping round the playground, up and down and around the Big Slides. Lunch and laughter and long naps. Afternoon projects we never get time to tackle, cooking fresh from the garden, homegrown soup and tomato sauce in big pots to freeze, everyone stealing green beans from the biggest bowl, snapping as we snack.

After the babes were asleep, the humid night air curling their newly-cut hair into sweaty ringlets, I cranked open all the windows and let the evening breeze slip inside. The scent of a neighbor’s bonfire filled the house with the savory smoke of smoldering wood.

Yesterday was no work at all.

Labor Day is easy, when we’re lucky to have work that lets us play. Family cookouts and dripping watermelon and melting ice cream sandwiches and sweaty feet dipped in the cool water and lazy fishing in the lake shade and the only pesky fly those traffic lines snaking home from the cabin. But it’s not a day of labor; it’s a day of rest. Even diapers and dishes feel different on a day off.

It’s the next day – the alarm clock and the baby up before and the endless to-do list and the unwashed dishes and the extra load of laundry and the heap of emails and the errands all over town – that’s the labor.

But even with all its demands and annoyances and stresses and dirty work, that’s the gift. The work itself. The children to raise and the job to do well and the home to make and the garden to tend.

Today, tomorrow, endless stretching out in front of me – it’s all labor days. I want to live them mindfully, with some trace of sweet summer saying goodbye: grateful, hopeful, present. To see God’s fingerprints smudged all over, not just the days-off that delight, but the days-on that demand. The leisure and the labor.

The gift to have work, in all corners, from all directions, on all days, that pulls my energy forth. And pulls my love towards others.

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9 thoughts on “a real labor day

  1. Thank you for sharing your gift of writing with all mothers. There are too few places that give value to the work that is done in the home with our children. Thanks for being that voice that speaks to the heart and that lends such encouragement. May God continue to bless your work.

  2. Ah, indeed. The celebration of having work that calls us forth, challenges us, and moves us forward. I say myriad prayers of thanks for having a job that I love with people I respect and admire. I pray that others may know the same joy of being excited to return to work after a few days of vacation, the same satisfaction of doing work that stirs the soul, the same enjoyment from conversations with coworkers.

    And I say myriad prayers of thanks for the days off from work, the time to recharge after the mind has been whirling with theological terms, publication dates, and demanding people. The gift of being able to do a load of laundry, drink a pot of tea, listen to some jazz, and simply be still.

    The work of home and the work of career–labor that generates gratitude.

    • Isn’t that such a gift, Lauren, to have a job you love with people you respect and admire? I am grateful for my own every single day. It makes me want to work hard to make that reality a possibility for more people…a good reminder on the day that the latest job numbers come out and I’m reminded of how many people are without work, let alone the gift of meaningful work.

  3. “Labor Day is easy, when we’re lucky to have work that lets us play.”

    And I cry….
    How many lines that resonate….?!
    I am grateful, coming to this piece from another facebook friend’s note about your lyrical prose. Inspired reflections on Motherhood. Parenting. Work.
    I read and nod.

    “…it’s all labor days. I want to live them mindfully, with some trace of sweet summer saying goodbye: grateful, hopeful, present. To see God’s fingerprints smudged all over, not just the days-off that delight, but the days-on that demand. The leisure and the labor.”

    Amen.

  4. As always, your words are timely, beautiful, and inspiring! You have a wonderful gift! I strive and struggle each day to appreciate the two gifts I have been given. It is dirty, tiring, relentless work! Most days I feel like a huge failure, but I get up and try again each morning. I give my babies sweet kisses, play with them, teach them, love them. When I’m cleaning the sheets from a potty accident or a bloody nose or when we’re laughing or going on an adventure, I try to remember to thank God for the wondrous miracles in front of me.

  5. Pingback: a round-up of labor day thoughts | mothering spirit

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