Mine was an exception. I thought it was the rule, but my naiveté has grown older along with me, and now I know.
Home was where my Mother was. My father too, of course, but she was there when we burst in and dragged in from school. Her "hello" was a greeting of her love. So was the ironing. That smell that was warm and dry and a little damp, but oh so fresh and pure, which meant that Dad’s shirts or the tablecloths or someone’s pants were being cared for. It gave me a feeling of comfort. Like buttering the crusts of the hot bread loaves that emanated from the oven. The warmth and the smell, and she always let us cut the first piece to have before dinner. And then she’d listen. We could say anything and everything and she’d always listen. And no matter what tumbled out, she loved us all, and solved the problems, and laughed at the silliness, and hurt with our tears.
Something special always happened in our house while we were away all day. I never knew exactly what went on, but when we all came home each night, the house was happy to have us back, and we were glad to be there.
She was always there. She could have gone away to work, and I would’ve let her if she’d wanted to. But she didn’t and I really didn’t, and so she stayed at home. They may have been simple things. They may have been boring things. But the things she did were important things, because they made the family grow. We were her garden: tended, nurtured, loved.
I have trouble now, deciding what I want to be; what kind of career I want to have. I could be a foreign correspondent, or a teacher, or maybe an advertising executive. But I might just be a Mother. One weeding in the garden or dusting the piano or who is making chocolate chip cookies, and is listening to hear the door open to call out "hello.”
By Janelle Hoddevik, 1976