I was in the middle of another hour of another day of my somewhat self-absorbed (yet completely family- and task-oriented life, when I saw her.
I’d seen her before. She lives in the coin-op laundry room on my side of our apartment complex. (Don’t we all…am I right, moms?) So I’m there again, for what feels like the 75th load of laundry this week, and I notice her moving about as I sort my big pile into white, light and color piles.
She trapezes up towards the door frame, then down to the edge of her web. Tink-tink-tinking (that’s the sound I imagine spider feet make) her way around the tiny threads of her home. I put another baby sock with a heart sticker melted to it in the light pile.
She climbs up, then slinks back down again.
I spray some more Oxyclean on a finger-paint stain.
She makes a few tiny circles around the center of the web.
I shove my coins into the ancient machines and pack up my laundry gear. As I’m about to exit the laundry room, I stop and just watch her. I HATE spiders. I kill them in our apartment without a second’s hesitation. They’re creepy, they bite, they’re EVERYWHERE when you live next to a creek in California…Yuck.
But she is flawless. Graceful, even. She doesn’t even notice me as she goes about her work. It’s incredible. She uses her two front legs to delicately climb up a strand she’s just laid, and she somehow attaches the thread emerging from her bosom to the enter of the web. Then two thin strands trail her as she heads back down to the edge: one strand to attach to the edge, the other to assist her in climbing back up to the center.
We’re not so different, her and me… I think. There she is, late at night on a Friday. She’s not kicking her feet up and having a glass of wine. She’s not out on a date with Spider Man. No…she’s in the corner of a laundry room, building a web, to catch food to stay alive and probably raise a family of 500 spider babies at some point (yuck).
And here I am, husband away on a work trip…I did work-work from 8am-4pm, cleaned the house from 4pm-5pm, picked up my daughter from daycare, came home and played in the toy car outside while chasing the stray cats with a flashlight (because I promised we’d play outside), pizza and zucchini fritters (anything to get the child to eat veggies), bargained with said child to not throw pizza and tediously-made fritters all over the floor, lost that battle, cleaned the kitchen and vacuumed the floors, orchestrated a really fun bath-time during which only minimal amounts of dirty bathwater were consumed, tortured my daughter (aka put her in lotion, a clean diaper and pajamas), made her a bottle, made several trips up and down the stairs to procure an adequate assembly of stuffed animals and baby dolls for bedtime comfort, fed her the bottle, brushed her teeth, fed her the rest of the bottle she insisted upon even after clean teeth, read a story and rocked her, put her in the crib, rocked her twice more when that failed, did three loads of laundry, bleached all kitchen surfaces and floors, scrubbed pureed food stains out of the carpet, unloaded and loaded the dishwasher, greased the squeaky door hinges with canola oil (it worked, #WINNING), put all of the toys away, cleaned out my wallet, sorted a stack of papers as tall as our coffee machine, and finally made myself a cup of peppermint Smirnoff-spiked hot cocoa to sit down and catch a breath.
And think about that spider.
I go back to the laundry room to move the wet clothes to the dryer, and see she has completed 17 new rows of her web, which astounds me. I can see her thread is running thinner, and the rest of the web may have to be finished tomorrow.
I come back to my cozy apartment and ponder that spider and I.
Me, doing all that, and her, building her web.
Equally tiring, equally repetitive, equally essential.
And I admire her, for she is the greater creature. No one will ever pat her on the back or read her blog post about how hard it was to build that web.
She will just do, and do, and do—her whole life—until she can’t.
And that’s kind of what we do as women…as moms, too. We do and give, work and sacrifice, bend over backwards and fret about every tiny and large detail from our first moment to our last.
But look at the beautiful webs we are building…
Stay strong, Mamas.
You are too busy and tired to see how beautiful your work is, but someone else sees it…
and is cherishing and benefiting from it.
Just keep spinning…
Photo credit: Orbmiser — Spider Web Color Blend