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©March 2005

Carol Jane Remsburg




The Daughter Gift



It was Good Friday and a full moon, an often dreadful combination for those who work with the public.  The mounting bad tempers and coming holiday didn't put the masses in a good mood.  Spring had also arrived, late and wet and cold.  Added to that, our house has been a sick house for the last three weeks.  I brought home a bad cold, that somehow skipped our daughter, thankfully, but I ended up giving it to hubby who has RA and a simple cold can devolve into much more than that.  The end of the week finally arrived and the extended work hours also came to an end.  It was time to go home.


My mind filled with chores over the next two days, of cleaning and laundry, and visiting with family for the holiday meal, and tonight's overnight guest, I was already exhausted.  Thinking if I could only get the cold finally gone that I'd have more energy to deal with what needed to be done.


It didn't help that the Easter weekend was to remain cool and wet.  All I wanted to do was to crawl in bed and sleep.  To hide from the rest of the world until I could wake up with a little more energy than a sloth, as had been the case for the last two weeks.  It was the idea of the household chores that were dragging me down and left me dragging my feet going home.


I arrived home just at dark.  Everything was wet and my shoes were picking up the mud.  When I hit the porch, I kept wiping my shoes as not to track any more mess into my already 'ready to clean' home.  However, when I opened the backdoor, I was shocked.


The scent of orange PineSol® assailed me.  It was obvious that the kitchen had been scrubbed, and the floors vacuumed.  Walking through the house to find other signs of life, it became clear that someone had been very busy in the house today.  The debris of ordinary living had been picked up and cleared away.  The dusting had been done and the bathrooms scrubbed down and on my bed were stacks of clean laundry.  Someone had been very busy indeed and it wasn't sick hubby who was dozing in the den.  That left only one other possibility.


It had been Erin.  Erin who is fourteen and trying so hard to learn the shift between kiddom and adulthood.  She is the one who has cherished her childhood and knows that becoming an adult comes at a price.  Like most young teens, she has a streak of lazy about a mile wide and as long.  Requesting help with housework is normally tantamount to engaging a peace summit including all the middle eastern nations—and they complain less about it.  How did this happen?


There hadn't been a request the night before from me to her, as she was off from school to lend a hand.  I simply didn't have the energy to inquire and felt if I had, the efforts would have been less than enthusiastic requiring me to do the work over again after her.  However, the house had been cleaned and well.  Further, Erin knew our little houseguest, my grand-niece was coming for overnight and she's a busy little girl.  It was up to Erin to keep her entertained.


Erin never batted an eye.  She not only had cleaned the house for me but had also worked two loads of laundry making a small dent in what awaited me as I'd not had the energy all week to deal with any of it. 


I found her curled up on her bed with a book and the house was silent.  I received a special smile as she uncurled herself as expertly as any of the cats in the house.  Erin showed me in her actions that she understood both her parents were under the weather and she wanted to do her part to make the weekend easier—for me.


Most parents of teens either have their children hopping a goose-step and comply on command, or struggle to get their kids to help out.  Most of us fall inbetween, but I'm more of the latter.  Usually it's a battle to get any help and she complains or drags her feet.  It's just easier to do alone.


This time, this time, without any asking, without any prompting, my teenager stepped in to help and make my life easier.  It was a gift of such magnitude, she may never comprehend.  It was also a major step on her path to growing up—putting another before herself.


When your children make you proud, you glow.  You think that somewhere, somehow, along the road to raising them, that you've managed to get something right.


A gift?  Somehow it is too weak a word.


Her words were, "But Mom, you need to have time to rest.  I had the time to do it for you."  And then she just smiled and hugged me.


There aren't enough hugs in the universe.  My baby is growing up.  I think she'll do just fine in this big old world.  She's got her values and she knows her priorities—and she cares.


Sometimes the best gifts don't come tied up with pretty paper or curly ribbons.  No, the best gifts come from the heart and actions that reflect them.



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