sI’m not sure how many times I've said that I would pay more than I’m worth for my daughter’s energy. As her mother, I am constantly amazed at how much she has, and how much I lack by comparison. With every year I seem to get drained more and more easily while she seems to go faster longer.
I remember with full clarity the first time I recognized someone being ‘out of gas’. I was about 5 or 6 and it was late evening on Thanksgiving. Someone said to my grandmother that she must be tired and to sit down. She did, and for the first time in the day, she seemed to realize that she really was tired. I recognized the energy drain from her as surely as someone deflating a blow up toy by uncorking the stopper and squeezing it very tightly.
I looked at her and saw the exhaustion born of getting up every hour on the hour to baste the turkey that she had put into the oven at 3 in the morning. Of making sure everything was prepped and ready to be cooked in her huge kitchen by all the females in attendance, and that there were snacks aplenty for all the men (who were off doing whatever it was that the grownup men did). And snacks were not just a bowl of chips, but kielbasa and deviled eggs and the best pecans that she shelled herself in order to get everyone through till dinner without running out. The woman was a master scheduler to make sure the apple and pumpkin pies as well as the sweet potatoes also got cooked even though the turkey was in the only oven. I remember peeling potatoes and learning to make the crust for the apple pies so I can say for sure that she didn‘t do it ahead of time. I also remember that she had no dishwasher so all of us would take over her kitchen after dessert to wash, dry and put away the dishes for her. Somehow during all of that, she would manage to be gracious and kind to any and all that were in her house, getting or making more drinks or snacks for whomever needed more, all the while running her kitchen like the most precise ER in the country with never a harsh word for anyone. The feast was put on with a super-tight budget and she honestly seemed to enjoy the hustle and bustle of having 14 people over for the all-day affair of Thanksgiving dinner. Only after she was actually sitting with all of that work completed did she allow the truth of her exhaustion show, even to herself.
She was amazing on those family holidays, Christmas being just as big a production and Easter only slightly smaller... She is still amazing at 92, but she gave the family holiday duties to my aunt long ago. They’ve been good, but they haven’t been ‘right’ since. To be fair to my aunt, it is hard if not impossible to follow perfection.
So it is now, that when I find myself logger-headed after not enough sleep, chasing after my son or daughter and shaking my head in wonder about the boundless energy of my children that I think of Grandma Z. on those long ago endless family holiday gatherings. I remind myself that I may be tired, but I have no right to call myself exhausted. I don’t even make tired look good, but she made exhausted look fantastic. I was blessed to witness it, and although I may never attain it, I know what grace during exhaustion really looks like.