Work, Work, Work

“Work, Work, Work. Don’t say that word,” one of my children said about the list of work projects this weekend—rake the grass, sweep the leaves off the porch, prepare the vegetable garden for planting.

What do you say when your child mimics the same attitude and phrases that you gave 25 years ago?

How about, “We’ll only work until noon.”?

When my parents were trying to teach us the law of the harvest back then, my memories were not of sowing or reaping but the uncomfortable sweat from the dreaded days of weeding. Crawling amongst the sticky and prickly corn, tomatoes and zucchini in the humid Missouri summer left me itching and irritated.

My annoyance of outdoor work grew in adolescence. One day crouched under a forsythia bush scooping out dead leaves I vowed that I would live in a high-rise apartment building in Chicago without a yard or a garden. My disgust with dirty hands and physical labor planted some seeds of rebellion.

Ownership later erased my pretentious pledge. One hour after closing on my first home, not in a Chicago high-rise, I was weeding the ivy patch—joyfully.

Now, we inflict our children with work just the same as our parents did.This was the first work-outside weekend of the year for us. Despite the heavy rain clouds, we went to work. It would have been more depressing to stay inside.

Knee-deep in the dirt of our raised vegetable garden beds, I looked over at Paul, who was rebuilding the block wall, and said, “I love you.”

“Because?” he said.

“For doing this with me.”

Maybe there is something to the link between dirt as an antidepressant or maybe it is just glee in foisting our parents’ work ethic on our own children.


  1. An Ordinary Mom
    May 12, 2008

    My husband was just saying the same thing about planting and soil this weekend, too!

  2. Rachel Corbett
    May 13, 2008

    I have had exactly the same experience. I guess growing up in the same house and doing that same yardwork each weekend had something to do with it. But as soon as we bought this house I think the pride in owning a home had a lot to do with it. It’s MY house so as I looked at my ugly lawn last year I knew I had nobody to blame except myself. This year we have spent time, money and lots of sweat (it’s been spring here for a while!) and it’s such a wonderful feeling to see my plabnts and lawn doing well!

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *