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.
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.