Ep. 23 – Phoenix – Just Call Me Mama Ross
Pictured Above: Mama Ross
Mama Ross was my father’s mother. She has been gone for many years now, but her presence in my psyche lingers. Any time I try to take a moment to relax—without multi-tasking—I see her face, hear her voice. “Sharon, don’t you sit down while you are folding those clothes. You stand up and pay proper attention to the task!”
To this day I might sit while folding, but I am usually also doing something that needed doing: supervising children, organizing in my mind—making plans for the next task. I have to confess that I sometimes now fold while I am watching something on TV. The fact that I still feel the need to “confess” tells the story.
Today I wanted to take a rare moment to watch the Today Show—just to get an update on things in general—but I made sure I was eating my breakfast so as to not be a malingerer. As I sat there hanging onto the moment—my coffee cup nearing empty—I found myself beginning to plan the next task at hand. I can’t help myself. I laughed and called my sister who lives several states away. When she came on the line, I said, “Call me Mama Ross!” She laughed and asked why.
She too finds herself having to justify taking time to relax, but she blames it on Daddy, not his mom. Well, it’s fruit dropping close to the tree, as we are as well. Our dad was a taskmaster. I am sure he pretty much had to be given that he had seven children, but it seemed to be in his natural rhythm to keep us all on task. Regardless of where this tendency originated, it is a tough one to break.
I have always felt challenged to be about my business every waking moment. If I am taking a class—which I still often do—I keep study notes ready. I even have a CD set up to play in my car with lessons for my current class. Heaven forbid that I should drive somewhere without another task being simultaneously accomplished! I have to admit that this practice is every bit as distracting as driving while texting, or talking on the phone—even with blue tooth. A couple of days ago I missed my exit off the freeway because I was repeating phrases from the language I am studying.
You, Dear Reader, may actually applaud my industrious nature. If so, it is probably because you are also caught in what I am now calling a syndrome. I have to say I so long to be able to sit and enjoy my backyard without feeling the need to be pulling weeds or attending to other matters. I would enjoy watching a movie without fussing about with another project. I would love to just sit down with a clear mind and fold clothes for once.
What I am saying is that I would love to feel that I could relax without feeling guilty! I am working at it by assigning myself fewer tasks a day and forcing myself to enjoy the down time after a job well done. There is a compulsiveness that drives me to follow the old adage, “A man works from sun to sun, but a woman’s work is never done.”
I have often wondered about that saying. I have even resented men that they do seem to have the ability to “turn off” their work mode at the end of the day. Now that is just plain sad that I would be critical of them! I realize it is a sweeping generalization, but as a group they seem to have mastered what I long to do. It seems to be built into their DNA that they know when it is time to shut down.
My late husband and I once began a private school initially housed in our own home. When the last student left for the day, he might have moved onto another task, but it was not school related. I, in contrast, would sit at my desk still taking care of school business. After a short time, he would come to my desk and close whatever I was working on and say, “School’s out.” Often I was annoyed with him for doing this. I grew to realize that he knew a secret I hadn’t known.
There is a time for everything, especially beginnings and endings. He knew I needed a break from that task, as it would still be there for me the next day. After a time of rest, I would be able to come to it fresher and probably be even more productive. He knew there had to be time for rest.
I do feel sad for my grandmother. I am not sure she ever gave herself—or anyone in her path—permission to just sit and relax. As much as I loved her, I don’t want to be known for what I now see is a debilitating trait of hers—and perhaps of my global sisters as well? Rest is not a “four-letter word.”
So, having completed the three tasks I assigned myself for this day, I am going to “allow” myself to kick back. I might even read some in that Grisham novel I have not given myself sufficient permission to sit down and read. But I may just take a nap!