"Mom, do you think I'm tough?" asked the 13 year old.
For a moment I pondered the traditional examples of toughness. She certainly is not a calloused person whose skin has been thickened through life's experiences and is difficult to get to know. She certainly isn't a bully or one that would succumb to the playground dare of taking a punch in the stomach.
I pulled out the dictionary to investigate the "official" meaning of the word. Some of the terms used such as rugged, severe, harsh, demanding, vicious and rough do not apply to her. But there have been times in her life when she has had the opportunity to develop resilience, another term associated with the concept of toughness in the dictionary.
As I considered her question, I began to develop another view of "toughness". That may not be the word that anyone uses to describe her due to how the world may define the concept. Because of her faith, her relationship with her Creator and Savior and her gentle heart, though, she is capable of acts that so much of the world would find "tough" or even impossible.
She has high expectations of every person she meets. She expects them to do their best and act their best always, but with an encouraging manner as opposed to a demanding one. How many of us who have been on the short end of a customer service situation or business dealing can say the same thing? It's tough to do. Many of us begin to lower our expectations so the sting of disappointment hurts less. She takes the risk of being disappointed every time, treats people accordingly and is often rewarded. That is toughness.
She also is tough enough to always look for the good in a person. While many look for some attribute/word/action to attack, to make someone look smaller so that we can look bigger, she looks to find something worth honoring in everyone. That is toughness. Now, I'm not saying that she is not disappointed when people don't live up to her expectations. But she will still approach the next person, expecting their best and looking for something good in them as a creation of God. Now, that is toughness.
So, I returned to her question.
"Mom, do you think I'm tough?"
"Yes, I do. Because you do what is tough."
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
My interest in aprons really started out more as a survival tactic than a true appreciation. You see, dear friend...I can be a bit of a mess in the kitchen. And there is no hope for anything I am wearing when that day comes around each December to bake...and bake...and bake. So, I had acquired a very plain blue apron to shield my clothing from my superhero-like power of catching everything I put my hands on. Now, I don't want to sound ungrateful toward this apron...it has always done it's job when called to duty and it has never complained. But, I'm a girl that doesn't mind a little bling...a little frill...a little pizzazz. So, it was not unusual for my eye to be drawn to cute aprons in all types of patterns when I'd come across them in little boutiques. And at some point, I mentioned to my mom that I would like a cute apron...something that made me feel fun and sassy while I was wearing it.
In the meantime, my friend Joni over at the Old Centennial Farmhouse blog would write posts about the vintage aprons she would pick up at rummage sales and thrift stores...the pictures sharing the charm of each. I would mentally make a note to watch for such treasures when I was out and about.
And recently, while cleaning out my email inbox,I came across an email that my mom had forwarded to me about 18 months ago. It contained a poem titled "Grandma's Apron", written by Tina Trivett. It so beautifully captures the little pieces of a family's history that something as simple as an apron takes on as it faithfully does all that it is called to do.
The strings were tied, it was freshly washed, and maybe even pressed.
For Grandma, it was everyday to choose one when she dressed.
The simple apron that it was, you would never think about;
the things she used it for, that made it look worn out.
She may have used it to hold some wildflowers that she'd found.
Or to hide a crying child's face when a stranger came around.
Imagine all the little tears that were wiped with just that cloth.
Or it became a potholder to serve some chicken broth.
She probably carried kindling to stoke the kitchen fire.
To hold a load of laundry, or to wipe the clothesline wire.
When canning all her vegetables, it was used to wipe her brow.
You never know, she might have used it to shoo flies from the cow.
She might have carried eggs in from the chicken coop outside.
Whatever chore she used it for, she did them all with pride.
When Grandma went to heaven, God said she now could rest.
I'm sure the apron that she chose, was her Sunday best.
While I don't get the opportunity very often in this season of my life, I do love to stroll through an antique store, touching the delicate pieces, wondering what stories they could share if able. I love quilts...the history that could be attached to the fabrics before they are pieced together into one entity...and the history those fabrics shared as a community.
So, it was such a sweet surprise, early this week when I opened a birthday gift from my mom and dad. There on a hanger draped five new aprons...three of them made by my mom and two she had picked up while shopping. Each has a different personality...all are adorable. And I can't wait to get them dirty...to carry jars of freshly canned applesauce to the basement in...to wipe the jelly off the corner of my daughter's mouth with...to cover with flour next December as my girls and I work together on gajillions of Christmas treats...to saturate them with the atmosphere of my home and family. Such a sweet uniform for this station in life that I love so much...and a cute and sassy way to protect the rest of my laundry.
Check out this search at Etsy for a fun peek at vintage aprons and some adorable brand-spanking new ones too.