From Seven Times the Sun, by Shea Darian:
Years ago my mother told me she would have been eternally satisfied being a homemaker and parent. She said her years at home, raising children, were deeply rewarding. When I heard this, I puzzled at the thought of anyone (especially my mother, the gifted woman) envisioning the rewards of her life in such simple terms. Now I know better, as I meet the daily demands of parenthood.
Chop wood. Carry water. Wash dishes. Sweep floors. Bake bread. Wipe noses. Mow grass. Pick up toys. Fold clothes. Small gestures of usefullness. Small gestures. Small. As I wash dishes, I look at my hands and smile at how much they are becoming replicas of my mother’s. I see her ironing freshly laundered clothes, slicing bread from the oven, tying the laces of my shoes. Her hands moved from task to task, as if they were opening intimately to the mystery of the ordinary.
These days as I watch my hands opening more intimately to such small endeavors, I think of my mother hundreds of miles away, and I whisper, “No greater gift could you bestow.” Chop wood. Carry water. “Work is love made visible.”[*] Our children will see it and sense it through the joy and meaning we find in our daily tasks. And they will be nurtured through these small gestures of compassion… for the way we come to small things shows our reverence for all things.
*Work is love made visible.
And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste,
it is better that you should leave your work
and sit at the gate of the temple
and take alms of those who work with joy.”
“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”
“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”
“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.
“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”
“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”
“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
“I suppose you are Real?” said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive. But the Skin Horse only smiled.
“The Boy’s Uncle made me Real,” he said. “That was a great many years ago; but once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.”