This is a true story:
I don't recall exactly how old I was, but there were three of us kids who were of swimming lesson age. We lived in the country on a gravel road about six miles from the local town swimming pool. Six miles doesn't seem like such a long ways but when you live on gravel and your vehicles aren't always reliable, well, it can seem like you have to make a trip to the moon. My dad was a farmer and my mom took care of the home and the kids. The structure of mom's days was dictated first and foremost by what work needed to be done on the farm and then in the home and finally what the kids needed. Hindsight provides a clearer lens so I know now what my mom's motivation was. Then, I thought she had taken things a little too far.
Dad must have been in the field, lunch was prepared to take out to him after we arrived back from lessons so the only think left to do was go to swimming lessons. Except none of the three or four vehicles in our private "lot" worked. We watched mom get in each one, turn the key, gun it, swear to herself, and move on to the next one. Finally, she hit gold...the truck. Much to my dad's disappointment, I don't retain vehicle lingo. Perhaps it's a defense mechanism wishing to prevent too many scary memories from overtaking me, but I know a John Deere when I see one and that is only because of it's color. So there was this truck. Larger than a pickup and smaller than a semi. I see them hauling mulch or scraps. I do know it was a Ford truck and it had about six 2 x 4's hanging out of the back. What possessed my mom to even get in this truck is beyond me, but I feel a rush of pride that she felt confident enough to get her going and that she did. She literally jumped it, turned the key, gave it some gas, and yelled at us, "Get in! You've got swimming lessons!" We peeled out of the driveway a little too fast if you ask me. The clamber of the boards sliding this way and that combined with the wind rushing through the cab since both windows were rolled down made any conversation impossible. Of course, I was too dumbstruck to talk.
We hauled you-know-what to town, and it wasn't until we arrived at the lane that led to the pool that embarrassment set in. The truck was large and loud and dirty and...it was a truck. Who gets carted to swimming lessons in a cab truck? We did. And I for one, could have died. All my town friends arrived in sedate little four door sedans, lucky kids arrived on their banana seated bicycles, and we showed up making the largest scene possible. What's even funnier to me about this is that none of us were die- hard swimmers. None of us had the physical prowess of an athlete. We took the obligatory lessons but skipping one would not have killed us.
What I know now is that when you have unstructured time in your day-- open expanses that seem to drag on, such as time home with kids,especially on a farm, unwanted leave from work, or recovery time for health reasons, it's the little markers in your day that seem to mean so much. Living on the farm was hard and lonely at times, I think, for mom. She was social. Those lessons weren't for us- they were for her. She had an appointed time that she looked forward to when she would get off the farm and have a chance to talk to other moms and find out about life around town.
I also think, that with that kind of determination in spite of obstacles, that it seems silly that we can't accomplish more in our world. Financial reform, healthcare, cures for cancer..come on! We have the intellect and resources (and access to working vehicles)to make signifcant lasting change. Maybe we just need more ticked-off, determined women running the show. In my own life, I just need to tap into her more often. She's there. What's stopping you?