I am continually amazed by other people’s perceptions of our life. For example, a nice lady who regularly disc-golfs in the park behind our house struck up a conversation with Stan last night. He was working on our new workshop, applying a final coat of sealant to the concrete. “You know,” she said, “I just love watching each stage of the build and how your whole family is working together on this project. You’re creating such special memories for your children!”
Later, Stan relays her comment to me I burst out laughing. Her words are hilarious because they take me by surprise and I know the reality behind the scenes she views from the park. I don’t blame her though; I might very well say the same about another family in another time or place. And when she walks by and sees a young girl up on the roof with her father, both of them laying down shingles in the late afternoon sun while their faces glow with dedication to a common goal (or is it impatience and frustration), it must be truly heartwarming. Why wouldn’t she be sentimental when she catches a glimpse of the husband-and-wife team handling sheets of OSB together, carefully securing them to the roof overhead. For all she knows they could be teasing each other lovingly as they dance around the saws and scaffolding, talking about their courting days or their dreams for the future.
What the nice disc-golfer doesn’t know is that this man’s alarm goes at 4:30 am so he can get to work at the mine and then return home to put in another few hours building before falling back into bed. Or that the wife feels pulled in a thousand directions and that she’s useless with the drill and does everything twice as slow as she should. Or that the children have been nagged, threatened and forced to work by ultimatums.
Which is why I find the casual conversation between my husband and the lady so fascinating. Honestly, wouldn’t it be great to be in the life that other people assume you are living? As far as the memory-making sentiment goes, I can only hope the patina of time photo-shops these moments into how the on-lookers perceive them. Then, one day, I will saunter down a back lane, perhaps wearing a sun-visor with my frisbee under my arm, and see a family hard at work together. And I will think, Ahh… those were the days. What precious memories they must be making.”
I’m sorry there are no pictures of my beautiful children at work. I’m often too busy shouting at them to pick up my camera.