The last time Sally saw her mother, they were sitting at the old kitchen table. It was a bright and sunny day. The sunlight glinting off the walls made the white cabinets look dingier than normal. But it made the red and white checkered curtains appear happier somehow. “Sally,” Dorothy said. “Even though it is not time to put up your dolls, or stop climbing trees, it is time for you to find your purpose.”
“What is a purpose?” Sally asked. “Feeling very ignorant as she squirmed in her seat, not at all sure she wanted to talk about “purpose.” It wasn’t something that her teacher ever brought up. Nor had she heard her mother and father discussing it, lately. There had been times in the past when Sally had heard them fighting and it was always about purpose.
She wasn’t able to count the times her mother had said to her father. “I have more purpose in me then just raising children.” Her father never seemed to have much of an answer in him, only yelled back. “Raising our children should be sufficient, for any woman, Dorothy. That and keeping the house and the meals on the table, ought to be enough of a purpose. What can you possibly want that is more than that?” He would yell, not really wanting an answer.
Coming out of her memories, Sally realized that her mother had been discussing purpose for awhile now. “You see honey, it isn’t that I don’t love you and your brothers, it is I must go find my purpose. I can’t do it here with your father. I hope you will explain it all to the boys.” Dorothy said, as she got up from the table and left the kitchen.
It was the last time Sally saw her mother. The next day, her father told her he would hire a part-time housekeeper until Sally finished high school. But Sally would have to see to the meals and make sure her brothers got off to school and did their homework. “I like a little starch in my collar, not too much mind you.” Father yelled as he climbed the stairs to take his evening bath before dinner. He never mentioned mother or her purpose again. Our lives had changed, especially Sally’s. How would she ever find time to do her homework? She thought with a sigh.
Days turned into weeks, then years, and still no one had heard from Dorothy. Sally often wondered if her mother had found her purpose. Still she wondered as she did the laundry or washed up the dishes. If her mother was right then her purpose wasn’t in cooking, cleaning and taking care of the house. It had been a long time now, since they had any house-hold help and the tasks all belonged to Sally now.
She wished she hadn’t been daydreaming when her mother had been talking about it. Maybe then she would know how to find hers. Every day no matter what she was doing she looked for purpose. On the walks to the store, in the clouds, on the beds as she made them up, she looked. Trying all the while not to think about her life and how it was turning out. Her brothers were in college now, so they weren’t underfoot as much. Yet the laundry became insurmountable, as they began dating. Doug didn’t like any starch, her father only a little, and Danny, well he really liked his collars to stand up. It was difficult keeping everyone’s preferences straight. The nights when it was only her and her father were the hardest. He didn’t speak much to her. Just kept an eye on her, as if she would one day run off to find her purpose like her mother had.
It finally dawned on her that it couldn’t be found in her tasks, or in the daily grind of keeping house. It wasn’t like a doll or a bit of starch. It had very little to do with her role as a housekeeper for her father. It was bigger; purpose was what made her heart sing. It was in the thing that she couldn’t live without doing. Purpose was what she lived for; it was in her blood and what she was meant to do.
Sally finally understood her mother. Dorothy’s role was wife, mother, housekeeper, and cook. Though some of it made her happy, there was a part of her that was struggling to be free. A part of her that needed to bloom and grow, independent of her children and husband it needed a place of its own.
Thank you for reading it Ana, xo
|945 days ago|
Truly a work of art, Marta. Beautifully written. Thank you so much.
|951 days ago|
I know Beth, sad isn't it? Reminds me of both my mother and her generation and myself in my first marriage. Hugs
|954 days ago|
This is so true of many women, Marta --> "...there was a part of her that was struggling to be free."
|955 days ago|