The tomboy that I was growing up, especially 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! 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 sister” 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 virtually every week for decades from my teens on, there to help raise me as an infant and toddler, and then 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 for during their weekend auctions in our teens, and with whom I continue to keep in touch as we share our hearts; and his brother Robert’s wife, Virginia, who was briefly my hunting partner in my teens, who 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 homemade spaghetti sauce and a down-home delicious goulash, both a favorite on our own supper menu.
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 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. She loved the country/farm life, as I do. And she knew how to cook up the squirrel I shot, or all game and fish my Dad brought home, very deliciously!
A few things she shared included making fully homemade custard 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. 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 our 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 more work than I really liked. As a kid, I savored her delicious toasted Velveeta 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 her tell 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. I treasure the time I drove her around her home town of Carlisle, NY, as she shared and pointed out places connected to her life, and wrote down her childhood stories. But, sadly, I have very few photos of her.
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 the students. But whether it’s being a mother or having a career, that’s not where all our satisfaction is found.
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.
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 shall 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 seek… 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.
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.
Photo taken by my Dad of Mom, my sister and me in our one-room cabin in Delta Junction, Alaska while my Dad completed his Army service foreign assignment (before Alaskan statehood).
Linda Roorda writes from her home in Spencer.