A Song from the Suds

As a writer, mother, cook, lover, homemaker, reader, adventurer, photographer, and everything else I do and am, I sometimes feel myself torn between three worlds.

The world of my head. The world of my heart. The world of my hands. 

I love to read. To turn my mind to higher thoughts, lofty thoughts. To ponder these and wrestle with them in my life. But I am no ivory tower academic.

I love to write. To tell a story, mostly about those I love. To make sense of my life, framing it with words. But I can't give more than a couple hours a day to this craft, though my stack of journals, freelance projects and writing this blog continually beckon me "after hours".

I love to listen and learn. To be challenged by the genius of others, to question how and if I can apply that to my life. So I download and "upload" - while driving or cooking - squeezing these moments into my days.

And on and on it goes. The constant struggle between the life in my head, the loves of my heart, and the work of my hands. 

So when I heard Lisabeth from Sparkle Stories read Louisa May Alcott's poem A Song from the Suds on a recent Saturday Sparkle (I love the steady dose of poetry with that subscription) I knew I was understood. Louisa May, she gets it. (I suspect a lot of you get it too.)

Because there are days when I really want to just live in my head with words, written and spoken. But the work of my hands calls strong, needing to be done. The meals to be cooked, the laundry scrubbed (yes, scrubbed this time of year), groceries to be bought, the dishes to be washed. The service I do for these loves of my life.

The work that keeps me very grounded. And demands of me that I actually live out those lofty thoughts (of love, beauty, sacrifice), not just think them. 

A Song from the Suds

Queen of my tub, I merrily sing,
While the white foam raises high,
And sturdily wash, and rinse, and wring,
And fasten the clothes to dry;
Then out in the free fresh air they swing,
Under the sunny sky.

I wish we could wash from our hearts and our souls
The stains of the week away,
And let water and air by their magic make
Ourselves as pure as they;
Then on the earth there would be indeed
A glorious washing day!

Along the path of a useful life
Will heart's-ease ever bloom;
The busy mind has no time to think
Of sorrow, or care, or gloom;
And anxious thoughts may be swept away
As we busily wield a broom.

I am glad a task to me is given
To labor at day by day;
For it brings me health, and strength, and hope,
And I cheerfully learn to say-
"Head, you may think; heart, you may feel;
But hand, you shall work always!"

Louisa May Alcott

This is where I live. With the thoughts in my head, the tug on my heart, and the work of my hands.

The steady, daily, beautiful mess of all three.  

Renee Tougas participates in affiliate marketing, including the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. Whenever you buy something on Amazon from a link you clicked here, I get a (very) small percentage of that sale. See disclosure for further explanation.

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  • pam

    pam on April 30, 2012, 3 a.m.

    Thank you for sharing this. It is such a sweet, sweet reminder that life is full, and that's okay.


  • Melissa

    Melissa on April 30, 2012, 2:32 p.m.

    I LOVE this poem—there is so much truth in it. Sometimes the work of the hands can save a busy Mama!


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