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I Am A Woman

Linda Roorda

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“You never think of your parents as much more than parents. It isn’t until you are older yourself that you begin to realize they had their hopes, dreams, ambitions, and secret thoughts. You sort of take them for granted and sometimes you are startled to know they were in love a time or two…. You never stop to think about what they were like until it is too late…” (Louis L’Amour in “Tucker”)  Oh how true!!

The tomboy that I was while growing up in my teens, working and learning beside my Dad, prepared me for later becoming a farmer’s wife.  After all, the love of farming is in the blood of both my parents! I was not fond of housework, much preferring to be outside or in the barn. Yet we women fill so many different roles.  Not all of us are wives and mothers.  Some of us remain single.  Some of us are meant to pursue life-time careers.  Some of us work to support our family, when we would prefer to be at home raising our children. Often, our likes and dislikes, and even careers, change throughout our lifetime. 

Typically, we women are great multi-taskers, but I’m not sure whether that’s good or bad! We come from different walks in life, and we’re very different from each other in feelings, perspectives, and opinions. I’ve had several “big sisters” or “surrogate mothers” in my lifetime who added a special dimension to my maturing and learning - my Dad’s mother, Grammy, with whom I wrote letters every other week for decades from my teens on, who helped raise me as an infant and toddler, and was there with an ear and advice as I raised my own children; my cousin Howard’s wife, Carol, like a big sister to me and whose four children my sister and I babysat during their weekend auctions in our teens, and with whom I continue to keep in touch; and his brother Robert’s wife, Virginia, briefly my hunting partner in my teens, also taught me how to cook certain meals when I lived with their family while working in Ithaca several months before my marriage to Ed, learning to make delicious homemade spaghetti sauce and a down-home scrumptious simple goulash, both a favorite in my own family’s supper menu. 

But I remember my Mom for many things… as I grew up, she was a traditional housewife, taking care of the home and growing a large garden.  She continued her mother’s example by canning and freezing the produce every summer except the years we lived in Clifton, NJ.  When we butchered chickens, Dad put them on the chopping block, we two sisters were the “dunk-and-pluck” crew, while Mom knew how to properly dress them for the freezer, showing us one hen’s set of graduated eggs sans shells from large to very small!  She was quiet and reserved, did not share much, if anything, about herself or her family as I grew up, but she had a strong faith in God.  Her mother died when I was 9 so I have limited memories of her, though eventually my mother shared stories of growing up and of her mother’s busy life raising 12 children, helping on their large chicken and dairy farm. My mom loved the country/farm life, as I do. And she knew how to deliciously cook up the squirrel I shot, or all game and fish my Dad brought home!

A few things she shared included making true homemade ice cream (no pre-made mix) as we kids clamored for a turn at hand cranking, bottling homemade root beer, and heating up the best hot cocoa with real cocoa powder, sugar and milk on the stove – all things from her childhood.  She also made a Dutch barley soup with buttermilk and brown sugar that I loved, as well as the most delicious cream puffs in the world using our duck eggs.  She could sew, but it was not her favorite.  She taught me to iron clothes and Dad’s handkerchiefs before permanent press fabrics hit the market.  I loved her homemade bread and made some a few times after I was married, but it was not my favorite venture.  As a kid, I savored her delicious toasted-cheese sandwiches with her homemade dill pickle slices tucked between slices of her homemade bread – long before Vlasic ever thought of selling bottled dill pickle slices for that very purpose!  

My sister and I did a lot of the bean and pea picking, snapping and shelling.  Though we tossed some of those veggies as youngsters when we were tired of our chore, freshly picked and cooked peas remain my favorite.  I loved visiting the farm my Mom grew up on, and later in life enjoyed hearing stories of her younger days.  She shared some of her wisdom, but typical of teens, I wasn’t always listening or accepting.  I did not hear much of her childhood until I began researching and documenting her family’s genealogy decades after I got married. And treasure the time I drove her around her hometown of Carlisle, NY, sharing and pointing out places connected to her life, as I wrote down her childhood stories.

My only desire had been to be a stay-at-home mother like my Mom, but circumstances beyond our control put me back into the workforce when my children were very young.  Each of my secretarial jobs (beginning part time as a high school senior in an Owego law office), built the foundation and skills for the next job, preparing me for my final medical transcription career before retiring and changing direction once more - subbing for teachers and their TAs, jobs I love, “being there” for “my” students.  But whether it’s being a mother or having a career, that’s not where all our satisfaction is found.  ewing many clothes for myself, husband and children, and canning and freezing a year’s worth of garden produce and fruit while raising my little ones were all reminiscent of the “good ol’ days.”

It does our heart good to “be there” for someone else, whether to provide emotional support, bring a meal to a shut-in, or lend aid in other ways to someone in need… sometimes even if only to give an ear and a shoulder for their hurts.  And that doesn’t begin to describe the love felt by the recipients of our gifts of love and time.  But doing good for others is not where we derive all our satisfaction either.

For several years, a popular women’s Bible study has been the “Proverbs 31 Woman.”  I like this passage of Scripture in Proverbs 31:10-31 (NIV), written by Israel’s King Solomon who had achieved fame as the wisest man in the world.  It speaks about a wife of noble character, and what she does to bring blessing to her husband and children, her family.  She works to care and provide for the needs of her household.  She buys and sells property and goods for a profit.  She respects her husband and brings him good in all she does, whether at home, among her friends, or in the city at large.  She speaks with a wise heart.  She does not sit around in idleness; instead, she demonstrates strength and dignity in all situations.  For "a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." (Proverbs 31:30b)

As I ponder this passage, I feel like it shows that I clearly don’t measure up.  For I know all too well my own failings.  Yet, there’s no reason why I cannot pursue change within.  So, I seek that quiet time to study, meditate, pray, and listen to what the Lord has to say within my heart.  It’s the Lord’s approval I long for… to guide my steps, to change my course, to cover me with forgiveness, peace and contentment, and to find satisfaction in doing what He expects of me even when it’s not the easiest path, nor the one I would choose.

May you be blessed - whether or not you are called Mom - for all the love you share, and for all the time and effort you put into being there for those around you… Happy Mother’s Day!

 

I Am A Woman

Linda A. Roorda

~

I am a woman.  I am a mother.

I’m a little girl, deep in my heart.

I am emotions, raw and revealing.

I am deep strength when life overwhelms.

~

I’ve carried love within my heart

For family dear, and friends held close,

For husband wise, light of my world

And children young, growing their dreams.

~

I see the needs to be fulfilled.

I reach to you, a life to touch.

I shed a tear, and hold your hand

To ease your pain, and bring a smile.

~

In quiet time, I seek Your will, Lord.

A time to renew, to calm my fears,

To savor sweet dreams, my hopes and plans

As You care for me, and meet all my needs.

~

I fail at times to walk the path

Yet You, oh Lord, are at my side.

You pick me up each time I fall

To gently remind, Your child I am.

~

I’ve harbored pain of losses that wound.

I’ve weathered storms, battered and scarred.

But my weary soul with peace You fill,

That I may praise and bless Your name.

~

I hear Your voice and will in Your Word,

For wisdom I’ve gained upon this road

Will lead me on to comfort and love

Others in need with You at my side.

~~

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