Wednesday, April 15, 2009

My secret to serenity

I have a little secret. It is a silly but very well kept secret that no one would ever guess. I secretly enjoy doing some of my housework. Now if you saw my house you would understand why this secret will never get out and why in a million years no one would ever suspect. My house does not look well kept most of the time. That is because my house is not well kept most of the time. I try to keep up, I really do, but most of the household chores are tedious and thankless. Most of the tidying up I do goes completely unnoticed and totally unappreciated because by the time I finish any one chore, the children have already gone behind me and undone most of it. That is the main reason I do not enjoy more of my house work. The other reason is that I am basically lazy and would rather sit down on the couch with my feet up reading a book than anything around the house.
Thankfully (and surprisingly), there are a couple things I really do enjoy doing around the house. The first one is mopping my floor. This is really one of the biggest wastes of energy in my life because it never stays clean for more than an hour at a time. However, I enjoy it because mopping is a time of contemplation for me. The children stay away while I mop. They are probably afraid I will draft them to help, but instead I really savor the time to myself to do my mindless mopping and let my thoughts linger deeply on matters of consequence. I have done a lot of spiritual soul searching while mopping the kitchen. I always feel a bit more at peace when I am immersed in the solitude of wiping up sticky spills and dirty footprints. When I find myself worrying more than usual or wondering how to handle something in life, it is a perfect time to tackle those soiled floors and take the time to really ponder the situation.
I sometimes wonder if in the "olden days" women were more content being at home and keeping house because there were so many more mindless jobs to do. They had so much more time to really reflect and savor the stillness and simplicity of life. They had time to just think while they washed clothes all day or baked bread for hours on end. Now life is always hurry, hurry, hurry and noise, noise, noise. There is no time alone with one's thoughts. There is no time for gratitude or perspective. No wonder I look for opportunities to put my feet up and escape into a book. It is hard to find a chance to escape into any other part of life, but thankfully, for me, there is always mopping.
The one and only other household task I regularly enjoy is folding laundry. Now again this is a monumentally useless waste of my time. The children are all responsible for putting their folded pile of laundry away and no one's clothing actually makes it very far still neatly folded. The clothes are all rolled in a ball and shoved in an overcrowded drawer by the time the children are finished with their part of the job. Nevertheless, I dutifully and carefully fold each and every item and place them neatly in the appropriate piles. There are two reasons I am so dedicated to the laundry folding. First of all it is the only job I can do while sitting down and putting my feet up! I can park myself on the couch with the basket of clean clothes next to me and fold away without ever moving from my spot. Even more meaningful to me, really, is that laundry is the one thing that I can make go exactly the way I want. I can make sure each clean garment is lined up and creased just so. I love to make every shirt, sweater, pair of pants, jeans, and shorts perfectly neat and tidy. Towels are actually my favorite because I can fold them symmetrically and pile them up so orderly. I am a total control freak and laundry seems to be the only thing I can really control to my satisfaction. And the sense of satisfaction that comes with each beautiful pile of clean fresh laundry is amazing. Now, I realize that in the grand scheme of life it is probably pathetic and sad that it brings me such peace but in the short term the sense of accomplishment is lovely!
As a full time wife and mother I am obviously the main keeper of my house. I wish I were a better housekeeper and a better home maker. I wish I could keep up with the clutter, stay on top of the messes, and live in an immaculate house. I have come to the realization that that will never happen, though. And so, I am content with my lived in home. Though there will never be visible proof of my efforts, I take comfort in the knowledge that my floors get mopped and my laundry gets folded regularly and beautifully. As for the rest of the work....well for now that is enough.

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