Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Mother ≠ Maid
Many thanks to everyone who took the time out of their day to send birthday greetings. Whether it was by phone, email or via the comments section of Unpacking Baggage, it was GREATLY APPRECIATED!
This entry is inspired by comments I left over at Grown People. In previous posts I have written about my grandmother and shared that she received little formal education growing up. In regards to math skills, the most she could show her children was how to count their change so as not to be cheated. However, she was able to to teach the inequality of mother and maid and she began as soon as the kids were able to stand on a chair and wash dishes. She did this for two reasons.
1. She wanted her children to be able to care for themselves. This was especially true of the boys. She didn't want them to suffer in the event they end up with a wife who was not domestic. As a result, any boy who grew up in her presence can keep house as good, if not better than any woman.
2. Having been lucky enough to be the last child born to her parents, she never had to do anything because her older siblings treated her like a piece of Jesus and made her lazy as hell. The result of that is she trained her children to keep the house in order so she wouldn't have to.
Don't get me wrong. She's not afraid of work. She worked in the sharecropping fields of Georgia as a child, but once she was married and knocked up, that activity ceased. She didn't bother to get a job outside of the home until her boys were old enough to complain about the weekly haircuts my grandfather would give them. My grandfather had an extremely steady hand. As a tailor, he was adept with a needle and thread, but cutting hair was not part of his skill set. So the boys complained LOUDLY! She got a job as a chambermaid so that she could send them to the local barber.
After they were old enough to pay for their own cuts she had grown used to the additional income and the routine of going to work so she kept it up. For most of my life she kept a full time job as a nurses aide in a rest home, but always had a side hustle cleaning houses. She balanced having a job with her laziness by working the third shift at the rest home because the patients needed less care at night and she only cleaned the homes of white couples with children who were old enough to be taught to tidy up.
Having accompanied her to the cleaning gigs when I was little, I grew used to seeing Betsy or Joey running the vacuum while she dusted or sat on her ass and polished silver. She would bring home their ironing to do at her leisure. Eventually she trained her employers to bring their ironing to the house. Miss. Ann would drop off her two baskets of wrinkled ass laundry, my grandmother would cook up some ARGO Starch on the the stove and commence to bumpin' wrinkles.
When I was 12 and laying around the house for the summer, Granny started paying me to do one of the baskets. Soon I was doing both baskets and collecting all the coins. I would also do my own shirts because I grew up in the Oxford shirt era. My collars and cuffs were so crisp, my teachers would comment. She made sure I knew how to iron a shirt.
All my life there has been a raggedy ironing board nearby. Either ghetto-rigged, with a coat hanger to keep it up or an old sheet for a cover or both (somebody know what I'm talkin' bout), there was ALWAYS one around. I am sad to say that I no longer own an ironing board. My shirts are now dropped off to and picked up from Miss. Lee and I certainly feel like a sell out everytime I stand at her counter. I just don't have the time to iron like I used to.
I would wait good till the first rainy Saturday, rig the board, cook me up a pot of starch and spend the day ironing everything in the house. Creases were sharp and I would get the greatest sense of accomplishment at the sight of all those crisp items hanging about the room. I would hate to give Miss. Ann her clothes when she came to pick them up, but the $10 tip made her items easier to part with.
My grandmother will never know albegra, but I'm thankful that she could convey the meaning of its symbols without knowing what the hell she was doing.
Happy Mother's Day!
Posted by Rodney ::
6:15 PM ::
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