Originally published by Moody Monthly Magazine, November 1993
Would we talk to anyone else this way?
“O Mother who lives in our house,” the daughter in the dining room begins to say while setting the table.
“Well, that’s kind of a formal address,” the mother answers from the kitchen. “What’s up?”
“I just want to thank you for the food that’s in the oven, just for the work you’ve done, for the roof just over our heads.”
The mother stops stirring the vegetables and raises an eyebrow. “Well,” she says, “you’re just welcome. But it sounds like you’re buttering me up for something.”
“I just want to ask for your presence here tonight; come to us and be with us.”
“If I’m not here now, who are you talking to?” the mother chuckles. “And this is my house. I don’t plan on leaving unless I get kicked out, and even then we’ll see who is kicking whom. You’re talking kind of funny tonight. Are you feeling ok?”
“Mother, I just want to ask that we’ll just have chocolate cake for dessert.”
Now that sounds more like my daughter, the mother thinks. She returns to stirring the vegetables, and the daughter comes back in for the water glasses. “I don’t know; it isn’t good for you,” the mother answers.
“I just want you to work off the calories for me.”
The mother laughs. “Now how am I supposed to do that? After I provide dinner, then I’m supposed to just take care of the consequences? Silly, you’ll be all right. Just go run around the block a few times.”
“I yearn for the needy, that they will get help,” the daughter continues, a faraway look in her eyes.
“Does yearning for something make it less demanding than to want something?” the mother teases her daughter. “Seriously, honey, if you want to do something, I’ll help. But you need to do it.”
“I want to remember Sarah in prayer too,” the daughter says as she places a fork in the bread basket.
“Good. Go ahead, no one is stopping you. But please pay attention to what you are doing right now–”
“She’s having a lot of trouble with her boyfriend.”
“So I’ve heard,” the mother says as she comes to the table and places the fork by the dinner plate.
“Mom, I just need you to be with me tonight in my homework, too.”
“No problem,” the mother says as she takes the casserole out of the oven.
“I have two tests and a 10-page paper to write,” she says and takes the water pitcher out to the table.
“Good heavens! What have you been doing all week?” the mother asks. “Well, that’s all right. It will all get done sooner or later. You can get started on it right after supper.”
“I just want to ask for your help today. I need to go to the library; that should take a couple hours. James might be working. I should wear something nice. Oh, but what?” Again she seems to forget what she’s doing, and the mother takes the casserole out to the table herself. “I really need some new clothes,” the daughter sighs.
“Honey…” the mother tries to get her daughter back to the real world.
“Which takes new money, which takes a new job. Which reminds me! I have to go get that application,” the daughter mutters under her breath.
“Honey,” the mother tries again. “Are you talking to me or just muttering?”
“Oh, I need help with it, too. But where was I? Oh yeah, Dearest Mother, I just want to ask if you will take care of it, too?”
“Well, I could, but you wouldn’t learn how to do it then.” The mother steps around her and calls her husband to supper. “Run along after supper to the library, dear. You look fine. After all, you’re the spitting image of your mother, aren’t you?” The mother gives her husband a kiss. “I won’t do just everything, but I can–”
“I need to iron that dress for tomorrow too.” The daughter stomps out to the table and flops in her chair. “I just want to lift that up before you. Could you do that, Mom?”
“Sure, just leave it on the kitchen table,” she sighs. It must be stress, the mother decides. “But I was going to tell you, I won’t do just–”
“I’m sorry Mom, but I have to cut this short and go,” she gets up, forgetting to eat. “Thanks for listening to me and helping me out. I’m sorry I didn’t get the dishes done like I had promised,” she kisses her mother and heads upstairs. “I’ll talk to you later.”
“Wait, let me finish this sentence–”
“Please continue to guide and direct me,” she says over her shoulder.
“How can I when you won’t even listen to me?” the mother mutters.
“Amen!” the girl hollers on her way out the door. She didn’t even leave the dress for ironing.