Taking Time

Taking Time

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks Mom

Taking Time

A daughter is a mother’s gender partner, her closest ally in the family confederacy, an extension of her self.
~Author Unknown

Mom stood in the small farmhouse kitchen, staring at the clean dust rag in one hand and the can of furniture polish in the other.

I sat at the dining room table folding laundry. I finished a towel and reached into the basket for another, never taking my eyes off her across the open bar that separated the kitchen from the dining room.

“Mama, do you want me to dust?” I asked.

“Hmm?” she murmured.

It was summer and the middle of the week, so I wasn’t in school and Dad was working. My ten-year-old heart picked up its pace as I saw her gaze linger on the clock. I suddenly knew what was preoccupying her—Dad wouldn’t be home for two or three hours.

She turned and looked at me.

“Let’s read,” she blurted, hazel eyes flashing with anticipation. “The dusting can wait.”

“Can I bring in Ebony?” I asked, as usual. Ebony was the black cat I’d raised from a kitten. She had to stay outside because Dad didn’t want animals in the house.

“Sure. You get Ebony and I’ll make us some hot tea.”

It didn’t matter, summer or winter, Mom loved to drink hot tea. She also read a lot of romance novels set in England, where they were always drinking afternoon tea. Maybe that’s what whetted her appetite for it every time we read.

I quickly set the folded laundry in the basket and rushed outside, careful not to slam the screened door.

Ebony lay stretched out on the cistern, basking in the sun. I scooped her up and hurried inside. I was barely back in the dining room before she was struggling to get down and explore. I let her go and rested my elbows on the open counter to watch Mom in the kitchen.

She had set out her fancy teacups, the pretty white ones with pink flowers. Delicate, painted saucers rested beneath their rounded bottoms. A Lipton tea bag nestled in each cup, the white string and tag dangling over the side.

“Afternoon tea is good for the spirit. It’s four o’clock somewhere, right?” she said, her eyes twinkling.

“Too bad we don’t have scones,” I said. I had no clue what a scone was, only that Mom said everybody in England ate scones with their tea. “What is a scone?”

“Some kind of biscuit, I think,” she said.

The teakettle whistled, and Mom poured the hot water into the cups. Steam curled into the air.

I leaned over a cup and drew in a deep breath. The pungent scent of black tea filled my nostrils.

When the liquid was dark brown, we doctored our tea: sugar for Mom, milk and sugar for me.

“What are you going to read?” she asked, as we eagerly headed, teacups in hand, to the living room like two kids skipping school.

Misty of Chincoteague.”

“Of course,” she laughed, “I should have known. Another book about horses.”

“What are you reading?” I asked. “Another romance?”

“Yes,” she said, carefully hugging me with one arm. “We’re a predictable pair, aren’t we?”

Mom sat in her favorite, Early American rocker with the brown and gold flower print and ruffled skirt. With her cup of tea on the round end table, she picked up the latest Harlequin novel she was reading, perched her elbows on the armrests, and crossed her ankles on the small, matching footstool.

After depositing my teacup on the coffee table, I dashed upstairs to my bedroom and grabbed my book off the nightstand.

I kicked off my shoes and stretched out on the dark-rust sofa. Ebony wandered into the living room and jumped onto my chest. She curled into a knot, closed her eyes, and began purring.

The house was quiet except for the grandfather clock ticking in the dining room and the soft rumbles coming from Ebony. Mom and I disappeared into our books.

When we heard a truck coming down the gravel road, we snapped our books shut and jumped to our feet.

Mom rushed to the window and peered through the curtains.

“Dad?” I asked.

She nodded and hurried to the kitchen while I put Ebony outside. I came back in and started setting the table as Mom pulled out pans for boiled potatoes and peas and threw thick slices of ham in a skillet.

I don’t know if Dad ever suspected us of whiling away afternoons reading. All I know is that those were some of the most special times I spent with my mom.

She taught me important basics of life: how to keep house, cook, be responsible, and care for others. But she never once said to me, “Take time to enjoy those things you love.” Instead, she put aside the dusting, forgot the laundry and ignored the vacuum sweeper a few hours a week to indulge in tea, books, and a purring cat.

Today, I have shelves stacked with books and a houseful of cats. The hot drink at my side when I read is freshly brewed coffee with sugar, no milk. I give my mom full credit for the growing and keeping of these passions. She knew the things we have to do in life change through the years, but the things we love only grow more precious to us.

~Teresa Hoy

You are currently enjoying a preview of this book.

Sign up here to get a Chicken Soup for the Soul story emailed to you every day for free!

Please note: Our premium story access has been discontinued (see more info).

view counter

More stories from our partners