Before I became a full-time mom, I worked several different jobs including, but not limited to paramedic, firefighter, office worker, executive administrative assistant and 911 dispatcher. I have an eclectic skills base: I can write a sporadically humorous blog, fix a music box (one of those "but not limited to" jobs), put out your kitchen fire, bring you back to life with my expert CPR, handle your basic bookkeeping, sing you a song while playing the piano, pretend to LOVE your dinner party with my acting skills (double majored in music and theater), rattle off police 10 codes (at least the ones I can still remember - give me a break, it's been 11 years), spell words in the phonetic alphabet, read a 24 hour clock, splint a limb, type 78 words per minute, remain calm in a crisis, teach you to read music, direct a choir, crochet you a scarf or afghan, and/or deliver a baby. I'm really quite the rennaissance woman. I did LOTS of stuff before I became a mom for the first time at 34 years old.
The many activities and talents I did and had before I became a mom was glaringly obvious when I took my oldest to her new youth group at church. Since she's heading into 6th grade - the middle school years; oh Lord, help me - she has "graduated" from the children's ministry into the youth ministry. Last Wednesday night, they had a transition night for the 6th graders so they could meet the other youth group members and leaders. It was nicely put together by the youth pastor and his interns; who doesn't love free food and bottles of Starbuck's frapuccino's? Yum! Before and after the organized events, the kids had free time. The sand volleyball pit, the tether ball, bags, frisbees, and basketball were open for anyone to use. I found my daughter playing volleyball, so I joined in. I have a deep-seated passion for volleyball. (Yes, that's the correct way to spell "deep-seated". I looked it up on the internet; you can't put anything that's not true on the internet, right)? In high school during gym class, it was one of the few sports I really liked and looked forward to playing. In college, I played volleyball on a co-ed intramural team and was a referee for the highly competitive men's intramural division. As an adult, I love to watch it on TV. I'm not your typical athlete - standby for my moment of shameless self-promotion; don't miss my earlier blog post Not Your Typical Athlete - but I have surprising skills sometimes. My 6th grader kept saying, "Maaah-ahhhm, I didn't know you played volleyball so well!" I responded with, "Yes honey, there are LOTS of things I am good at that you don't know about." Thank you, Lord, she doesn't know about some of them. Yikes.
So, I got to thinking about the things I do now that I never would have if I hadn't become a wife and mother. Before I became a full-time mom, I worked a full-time job, had days off, holidays off, sick time and overtime. After becoming a full-time mom, I work more than full-time hours, rarely have a day off, never get sick time (unless I'm physically confined to a hospital), and I'm forced into over-time I don't get paid for. Before I became a full-time mom I worked out regularly. After becoming mom, I work outside regularly - like in my garden (shameless moment number two - check out my other post I Am Not A Gardener) , or mowing the grass when my hubby is broken. Before I became a full-time mom, I would go out and party with my friends. After becoming a mom, I stay in, and plan parties for my kids and their friends. Before I became a full-time mom, I never made it to church. After becoming a mom, I am at church ALL THE TIME. You know you spend a great deal of time volunteering when they give you keys and a door fob. No joke.
Today, I did something as a mom/wife I've never done before. I canned pickles. No, like REAL canning with a water bath, lids that need to seal and all that. I've prepped green beans and apples for the freezer before, but this was an entirely different beast to wrangle. If I didn't do it right, my family could get sick from eating these pickles, and I've got enough work to do without being the cause of THAT. There's washing the jars and lids, boiling them, mixing the seasonings with water and vinegar, boiling the vinegar mixture, cutting up cucumbers by the thousands (no, not really, but sometimes it felt like the pile was never getting smaller), handling hot jars while packing the cucumbers in them, headspace (and you thought that was only for luxury sedans), funnels, grippers, splash and steam burns, boiling the filled jars and the musical "shhhhlllllppp - ping" of the lids sealing tight. IT WAS SO MUCH FUN!! That little sound thrilled me to pieces. No really, I'm weird that way. I made 12 quart jars and 1 pint jar of dill pickle chips, spears and sandwich slices. Every single jar sealed. Yeah! I can't wait to do more.
Once the weather comes out of "Fall in July" and returns to our more normal sub-tropical temperatures, the tomatoes will start to turn red. Then I can make salsa. I might even do a little salsa dance in my kitchen to celebrate. Note to self, close the blinds. I can't wait to send my kids to the storage room in January, or February to get out a fresh jar of goodies! I made them; they can fetch. Isn't that what kids are for? Geez, I hope the pickles and salsa taste good, or else y'all know what you're getting for Christmas or Hannukah, right?
Before I became a full-time mom, I had a full life. After becoming a mom, I have a life that is full to overflowing. It never ceases to amaze me how deeply blessed we are as family. God is good, and I'm grateful. Life is hard, marriage is no fairy tale, kids will make you crazy and give you grey hair. Sometimes, though, packing a jar full of cucumbers in salty vinegar solution makes a person understand that it's really the simple things in life that bring us the greatest pleasure and contentment.
Galatians 6:7-9 (New International Version)
7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Luke 10:2 (New International Version)
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