Gather and Give
My parents owned a little corner store. An ice cream store nestled in a quiet blue collar neighbourhood along a main road into downtown. It was in fact a hub of sorts and growing up we became an integrated part of many lives. One in particular stands out as a beacon of all that is right in this world and un be known to me at the time, watching the actions this customer took through the years of regularly piling the neighbourhood kids into his pick up (inside the cab and the cargo bed) or his oversized car to bring them for ice cream has in part guided me as I raise my own children. It was almost once a week through the summer, he would haller down the lane and honk his horn on his way to our store and the neighbourhood kids would break from playing hide and go seek to jump in the vehicle headed to our store so they could enjoy an ice cream treat of their choice. He paid for everything and the sweet relief in the heat brought as much excitement as a sprinkler on the lawn, that was for certain. Some had shoes, others didn’t and most were in taters but the smiles on their faces and the delight in their eyes made it feel like we too was a part of a very special moment that was going to make a world of difference.
Today, our house is filled with a mix of laughter, deep conversation and activities from our teenager’s group of friends as well as our younger child’s busy social calendar. The door slams shut a million times a day and the dog barks incessantly but the hum is happy and the chaos complete. At times, we stay planted and these friends who come from all corners of the world are happy to race around the neighbourhood exploring and eating and drinking our cupboards bare. The freezer is stocked with ice cream and popsicles and freezies of course and these too are devoured amid the games. At other times, we wrap these activities in with the sports calendar inviting these neighbourhood children and friends to lace up or bring their swimsuits as we explore the world past our doorstep. Many times we hit a snag. Rackets, shoes, outfits are missing…It is then I am reminded of how I was raised and we simply add what is needed so everyone can participate. No one is left out and nothing is ever routine. Just last week a pair of clean socks were handed over to a friend and while cleaning up I noticed several pairs of dirty socks were left.
A while ago a new friend joined the pack for a bit. I bought her runners when she didn’t have them so we could all go play tennis and the group of new friends and I helped her mother find her some fun bathing suits. There have been plenty of times when I’ve had to lean on others for support and this kindness was extended without question. I’m not sure if these mothers understood my exhaustion or sleeplessness but they helped without asking and my children were supported just enough to help me along. We all get so busy, I have met some moms who haven’t the ability or interest in sharing the load but they stand alone and it never really shows in just their eyes, it is visible in the actions and attitudes of their children. To care, to share and to support each other by gathering lives together to make for a larger group and a more meaningful expanded moment does more than keep a parent busy. It strengthens the bonds within a family.
Simply put, every gathering big or small at our house leaves a trail of chaos. I’m never sure how it happens but the house starts out tidy and I feel as if The Cat in the Hat has joined in. I’ve been washing so many outfits that have been left behind I stopped tracking people down and simply added a few bins in my teenager’s room to accommodate. There’s usually an extra hat or shirt in my youngest room so I’ve decided to make sure it is there when they come back. I still have an extra bike and helmet to store this winter, To be honest. I wouldn’t have it any other way – not for the popsicle drips or slime glitter stuck between the cracks or the strange colours the rocks have in my garden because of the tie dye tee shirt creations. The fairy garden went into a pot this year and it stood proudly at one end of the garden. I notice the freedom I deliberately take with invitations and food, purchases and ideas has blossomed in my own children and their friends. They confidently share without hesitation. They create, express themselves and give back positively in and out of school and I’m proud. I only hesitate now when I reach into dark containers or my youngest’s pockets or school bag unsure as to what I will find. I hold my breath when I try to understand what is created in the potion and do my best to understand if I can pour or toss the mixture on disposal (after my husband announces there’s a weird and disturbing smell that needs attention – which is around day 14 of the potion making process)…I can only hope this will continue and the warmth of heart it gives me to see everyone enjoying and experiencing moments of sheer fun together will make for a better tomorrow. Something as simple as an ice cream really is a sweet treat that brings with it more surprises than the sprinkles and cherry on top.
Nicole Reid has an MSc with a variety of publication in the scientific world. She is raising two busy children and is beginning to write for the sheer pleasure of reflecting on life. She hopes her writing will inspire others to enjoy the life they lead, laugh deeply and count their blessings.