The above title is the name of a chapter written in a children's book, What Do People Do All Day? by Richard Scarry. This picture book of illustrated animals features various chapters describing life, occupations, and activities in Busytown. This one chapter in particular speaks about a cute family of pigs, showing all the household chores Mother Pig would do in a day, from the time she wakes up till she goes to bed at night.
There's a lot in the story that would probably be considered politically incorrect today, but my brother and I used to love hearing the story when we were very young - and my mum loved reading it to us... probably because it served as a gentle reminder of all she did to run our happy household. Little did the three of us know back then, however, just the extent of our mother's "work" to come very soon, and the fact that even now, it is never done.
Where to begin?
Living in Montreal at the time, and two months shy of my 12th birthday, I lost my father to cancer. His diagnosis was sudden and he was only given weeks to live... although did survive three months longer. At the time, my brother and I were not told of the extent of my dad's illness, and my mum always tried to keep a brave face when she'd come home from visiting him in the hospital.
Needless to say, my mother was thrown into a whirlwind of the uncertain - both before and after my dad's passing. Accompanying her grief, there were a lot of decisions she had to make for our family moving forward, and in a span of just a few months after my father's passing, there were many changes for all three of us.
While my brother and I visited my aunts in London, England that summer, my mother was busy moving our home from Montreal to Toronto. She then looked for work and got a job as a Montessori teacher, for which she had to first train for a full year. So, come September, my brother and I stayed on in England and went to a boarding school while my mum went to Italy for her training. Basically in a span of 6 months, we were all separated from each other.
I think it's safe to say that it was the toughest year of my mother's life, and I often wonder how I would've handled the situation if I was in her shoes: losing my husband, separating from my children, moving to another city, and then heading to a foreign country for a year to take an intense course - not knowing the language or what my living conditions would be.
My mum was a graceful warrior. She had fight - taking those hard but necessary steps to help find eventual stability and security for our family. It's that fight, plus her immense faith that kept her going, even in the darkest days when she was ready to give up.
When that long year passed, the three of us boarded a plane back to Toronto and eventually settled into our new life. Of course it was still met with various challenges throughout the years, but through it all, my mum has been the glue that has kept the three of us close, even now... 41 years later after my dad has passed. Sure, the three of us each continue to bring something to the "table" to maintain our amazing and close dynamic, but there's no denying the unconditional love, nurturing, sacrifice, and cheerful joy (even through the tears) our mother has shown us that has helped our lives take root. For this I will forever be grateful. She continues to be a source of strength, light, and comfort, and is still very much needed. For this I always feel blessed for having her.
My mother's "work" is so beyond any household chores. My mother's "work" is in just being... and that can never be done.