Of Motherhood, Pumpkins, & Time

Almanzo asked Father why he did not hire the machine that did threshing. Three men had brought it into the country last fall, and Father had gone to see it. It would thresh a man’s whole grain crop in a few days.
‘That’s a lazy man’s way to thresh,’ Father said. ‘Haste makes waste, but a lazy man’d rather get his work done fast than to do it himself. That machine chews up the straw till it’s not fit to feed stock, and it scatters grain around and wastes it. All it saves is time, son. And what good is time, with nothing to do? You want to sit and twiddle your thumbs, all these stormy winter days?'” ~ from 
Farmer Boy  by Laura Ingalls Wilder (emphasis added)

I just finished re-reading the Little House books a few weeks ago; initially I told myself I’d read one a month and stretch it out over several months. Ha. I discovered that they’re even more captivating when read as an adult than they were in my childhood. And this passage in particular has been resonating with me ever since.

Don’t get me wrong, as a mom of three littles (aged 3, 2, and 1), I appreciate saved time. I know the chances of  twiddling my thumbs are slim to none these days and I perpetually feel behind on, well, everything. So this post is not a condemnation of convenience, time-saving options, or even canned food. It’s about an attitude I’m trying to do a better job of instilling in myself and my mode in motherhood. Because what Father Wilder had to say reminded me so strongly of this: If time saved comes at the expense of better things, it’s not a transaction I should be making. 

Take this picture:



I bought 12 pie pumpkins this month. One cold, drizzly afternoon the children and I spent a couple hours chopping, baking, and pureeing these pumpkins. It was sticky. It was messy. It was very time consuming and it was glorious. At one point, I asked the boy to gather up the tops for me to dispose of them. “Look, mommy! Pumpkin hats!” he declared jubilantly. Ever one to join in the fun, his sister grabbed one for herself and started modeling them too. These were such golden moments, dear readers.

We did more together, too. We talked about where and how pumpkins grow. We counted the pumpkins we had. We talked about the colors of the pumpkin. We learned about safety rules (“mommy uses this knife… and, no, stabbing a pumpkin with a butter knife is not wise.”).

Later on, I made pumpkin pie (not surprisingly, it was the most delicious one I’ve ever made). I made a pumpkin/sage/cream/cheese pasta sauce that was also a winner. The most enduring product from that afternoon of “wasted time,” though, was getting to nourish the eager minds and bodies of my precious children. Opening a store-purchased can of pumpkin would have taken a fraction of the time we spent preparing pumpkins together, but what would we have spent those other hours doing? The children would probably have played, made more messes, and had fractious bouts. I probably would have attempted some cleaning, felt despair as I watched their fractiousness, slipped into Grouchy Mom Mode, etc. You get the picture.

Or, you would if we hadn’t done those pumpkins. Instead, you get this:



Isn’t their joy infectious? 

I may not have “saved” much time making pumpkin pie this month, but I certainly redeemed time with my children.

Full disclosure: The other thing Almanzo’s father talked about that caught my attention was the waste associated with some time saving mechanisms. I had every intention of roasting the pumpkin seeds and blogging merrily about how doing our own pumpkins meant using more of the pumpkin, being more prudent with our resources, not making waste, etc. What *actually* happened: we got busy (baby shower for a friend, normal life, birthday celebrations for a family member) and those beautiful pumpkin seeds sat on my counter and got moldy. Fabulous, eh? I suppose I should be cheerful about there still being room for improvement, but mostly I’m depressed. 😛

Anyways. Don’t be afraid to embrace inefficiency when it’s packaged with wonder. There is more to be saved in this life than time.

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  1. Posted November 10, 2014 at 10:52 am | Permalink
  2. Headmistress, zookeeper
    Posted November 10, 2014 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    Hey, you can put the seeds in your compost pile, or just bury them in the back garden. Or you an save them up with other scraps and bring them out for your brother’s chickens.=)

  3. Posted November 12, 2014 at 6:54 am | Permalink

    What a wonderful way to spend the afternoon! I highly recommend pureeing our own pumpkin. If you want to spend less time chopping, etc., you can cook them whole and uncut. I just cut the tops off, poke some holes, and cook them at 400, and after they’ve cooled, the flesh comes out so nicely, as do the seeds.

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