I’m sitting at my computer, towel wrapped around my conditioned, but unrinsed, hair; sitting here, thinking about my mother and how she gave me the gumption to do this.
By “this” I do not mean sit here and type with a towel wrapped around my head. The situation is a little more sticky than that. You see, I have no running water at my house. Except that twice a day, for 15-20 minutes, the water runs. In that time period, we wash our dishes, fill our pitchers, and try to get everyone through the shower. This has been going on for 12 days. And it led to my current predicament.
It was my turn in the shower, and the second I was covered in soap and conditioner, the water stopped. Just like that. No warning. No “Better be quick!” slowdown. It was just gone. I yelled, “NO! I’m covered in conditioner and soap, and there’s no more water!” My ever-helpful husband arrived on-scene with an immediate, and undesirable, solution.
At this point, you need to know that my bathroom is fully occupied by 5-gallon, not-so-clean pails of not-so-clean, cold water which we use to flush toilets and meet other similar water demands.
Ever-helpful Husband said, “I’m going to pour a pail of water over you and rinse it off.”
“No! No you aren’t! I will wrap a towel around my head and wait for the water to come back again.”
He just looked at me. We both knew that could be a long wait. In an effort to sound less ridiculous and more solution-minded, I told him that the water was COLD and not-so-clean. You get what I’m saying, right?! Who wants a pail of cold (not-so-clean) water dumped over their head (unless it’s a sweltering 95 degrees and you know you’re going to shower later)? He still just looked at me.
“Okay, fine, I’ll use that water, but I’m doing it MYSELF, with a pitcher, except for my hair, ” I said. “I’m still wrapping a towel around my head and waiting for the water to come back on!”
So here I am, towel-wrapped head, thinking about Mom. I know I get that stubbornness from her, but I’m really thinking about all the things she faced head-on in life. She was a do-it-yourselfer before it was trendy. Not because that’s what made her tick, but because she didn’t have an option.
My father worked hard, but we never had much money. He was a highly educated blue-collar man who lived in a little house with his wife and seven children. My creative-brained mother was always figuring out new and better ways to utilize the space and keep us all organized. She plastered and puttied, painted, sanded and varnished, sometimes late into the night, to get the job done.
She cooked on a stove that sat in the middle of the dining room for weeks while the kitchen was remodeled–a tiny closet of a kitchen in which she somehow functioned with all of her children helping by her side. For several years when money was too tight to vacation east to see our grandparents, we camped in state parks close to home while Mom cooked over the open fire, Dad read to us, we washed our hair with frigid water under pumps, and we made inexpensive but precious family memories. Mom never stopped opening her home to everyone, especially those she thought in need of friendship, family, or food, even when all she could offer was scrambled eggs.
I learned from my mom that God is sovereign–she never lets up on that theme. Both the good and the bad (our perception) come from His hand for our good and His glory. She never let me fret, but always directed me to prayer, because it’s God’s pleasure to answer the prayers of His people.
My mom taught me how to be frugal, that no job was beneath me, and that it’s better to do it yourself than complain about it not getting done. It wasn’t a can-do attitude that never accepted help, but one that was accepting of her lot in life. Many times in my adult life, I have spurred myself on by the thought that if Mom could do it, I can too. I think she always seemed fearless and strong-willed, though the perspective brought by nearly 25 years of motherhood myself leads me to believe that it was a confidence in Christ and determination to make the most of any given situation. No obstacle ever seemed too big to overcome, no person too unworthy to receive the benefit of the doubt.
That’s what I mean by gumption. All these synonyms apply–initiative, resourcefulness, ingenuity, imagination, mettle, fortitude, courage. I’m not saying that I actually have it, but I know my mother did. And watching her for years has encouraged me to be thankful in all circumstances, to make the most of every situation, to persevere whatever the difficulty, and to know that every good thing is a gift from God.
So I’m sitting here grateful for the mother I have and the water we get, with this towel growing ever-heavier, knowing that if the water doesn’t come back, I’ll be dunking my head in a bucket. Somehow that just seems better than having it dumped on me.
©Erika Rice 2017
2 thoughts on “Mother and Gumption”
I love this. Thanks for making me laugh out loud. You and your family gave me many memories as well and I have been so blessed by your mom’s loving care and her mentality of “what’s one more?”. It was always a grand adventure being at your house.
Thanks, Sherry! We, especially me, were blessed by you being a “one more” in our crazy little world. Endless joyful memories are ours! I’m glad you laughed out loud.