Yesterday, I was missing my boys even more than usual.
I decided to mow the lawn as a favor to my husband, because he's been traveling so much for his job lately and I didn't want him to have to spend too much time today worrying about yard work. It's a Saturday in the fall, and days like this should be dedicated almost entirely to watching college football (my husband's passion). And it goes without saying that any work would definitely have to be done in time for the kick-off of the Notre Dame v. Michigan State game. No two ways about that. The grass can wait. The Notre Dame game cannot.
As I was pushing the mower around our large front yard, I grew nostalgic for the days when we had a bunch of big, strong boys to perform this service for us. They were our mowers, our rakers, and our shovelers--and now, all of those jobs will have to be done by a couple of creaky old fifty-somethings. People like to talk about all the freedom and spare time empty-nesters have; they don't tell them that a lot of that spare time will be spent doing yard work that their kids used to do!Here is a picture of my husband teaching our youngest son, who was just shy of eight years old, how to use a lawnmower for the very first time. Dad always got the boys out there, in their safety goggles, when they were fairly young, and he spent a great deal of time teaching them how to operate the machine safely. While they were newbies, they would only be responsible for a small, rectangular patch of grass in the center of the yard; but eventually, they grew old enough and strong enough to do the edges and maneuver the lawnmower around trees, gardens, and other obstacles--and that's when the load became a lot lighter for us. When son #1 was learning, my husband left him the rectangle; when son #2 started, the oldest left the rectangle for his younger brother; and so on down the line, with my husband personally overseeing the newest recruit's training. He was a very good and patient teacher, and his efforts paid off: his sons became very efficient mowers.
Our four older sons tell us that we babied our youngest, because son #5 went a good number of years just mowing a small rectangle--until one of them pointed out that they'd all been regular mowers when they were a lot younger than he was. The jig was up: our baby was forced to join our stable of cheap and available (if not always willing) laborers. Ahhh...the good old days.
Mowing's not so bad, though; it's the shoveling I'm dreading. Where we live, we get lots and lots of snow--pretty to look at, but a pain in the you-know-what to clear off our long driveway. We have a snowblower (my husband finally capitulated and bought one when the ranks began to thin out); but it weighs a ton and I'm too weak to push it. So when my husband is out of town, I'll have to break out the old trusty snow shovels. Look at all those shovels hanging from the rafters in our garage, next to the bikes (tools of pleasure and pain, side by side); it's sad to think that we no longer have a cheap work crew to man them! Like I said, I'm missing my boys. And I think this winter, I'm going to miss them more than ever.