Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Unless There Is Blood

I’ve seen many houses with “Family Rules” signs hanging on their walls. Some of those family rules are things such as:
Always tell the truth
Pay with hugs and kisses
Do your best
Keep your promises

I have yet to see one that reads, 

Don’t bother me on the lawn mower 
unless there is blood

and that was probably the number one family rule we lived by growing up. 

I never understood why my mother was so weird about her weekly time on the lawn mower, but I rest in full understanding now that I’m a mom. 

Besides the day-to-day lessons and laughter in raising two kids, the absolute highlight of my week is mowing our yard. It is the hour and a half that I have a task in front of me that doesn’t require cleaning maple syrup off a TV remote or disposal of any bodily fluids. It doesn’t require muck boots or fly spray, proofreading or editing in red pen. It is an hour and a half of me time. During a phase of life where I don’t remember the last time I went to the bathroom without an audience, an hour and a half of me time is quite significant. 

While I mow the yard, 
I play questionable music from college, way too loud through my ear buds. 
My mind drifts between travel and children and memories and places and people

My goodness, I love people. 

By the end of my lawn mowing chore, I have the world’s problems solved, though no one has asked my opinion. But since you’re curious, I’d start with major jail time for people caught littering. Because while I do love mowing the yard, I do not enjoy picking up endless amounts of trash along our ditches. To the person who threw out a single black sock, two rubber gloves, three Bud Light bottles and a lint roller: Please tell me what the rest of your life is like. 

On the lawn mower I develop my grocery list, but I have no place to record it. 
I mentally add on to my to-do list and cross things off, too. 
I rarely take phone calls on the mower, because I figure that if I cannot disconnect from the world for an hour and a half one time a week, I probably have bigger problems than tall grass. 

I generally pay no mind to the passing cars and trucks, but I will say it’s astonishing how many people go by our house on Thursday afternoons when I get the mower stuck in the fence. And the honking rate really spikes when they see Cody come pull me out with the Kubota. There is something about that activity that really gets people motivated to lay on the horn while passing Sankey Angus (and it also gets Cody’s blood pressure elevated).

I sincerely enjoy mowing the yard, having one task in front of me that I can complete without interruption. 

I remember well one weekend circa 1995 that my brother had his best friend, Ben Warner, over. Ben’s joints were very….fluid. I don’t know if he was double jointed or triple jointed, but he was able to bend things in directions that would have easily qualified him for the circus, had he not other aspirations. In fact, quit scrolling and try this: Bend your wrist down so your fingertips touch your elbow. Try it. You can’t do it, can you? Ben Warner could do it in 1995. 

Anyway, Luke and I came up with a grand plan to frighten our mother: We’d send Ben over to stop her on the mower and tell her he fell out of a tree and broke his wrists. Ben would then demonstrate two “broken” wrists. 

As we watched from afar (because we weren’t stupid), Ben ran over to mom and pulled his stunt. And Mom proceeded to jump off the lawnmower, as mortified as we expected her to be. 

I think Ben’s dad came and picked him up not long after that.   

I look back now and I realize that wasn’t nice of us, at all. She was likely extremely deep in thought, perhaps in middle of writing her grocery list or trying to figure out how to get George H. W. Bush back into office. 

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