There’s a colossal, well-meaning push in modern family and parenting culture to be intentional, mindful, present and attuned to every moment of every day. Writers, authors, speakers are reminding us that little things matter a ton. The mundane is SACRED, people! Ordinary is beautiful — it’s HOLY!
And I know they are right – in so many ways, they are right, and their energy and passion compels me to be a better human being, or at least inspires me to leave happy, encouraging sticky note reminders around my house:
Life is good. Don’t miss it. ~Unknown
To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world. ~Bill Wilson
Do small things with great love. ~Mother Teresa
These little gems have prompted me toward positivity, toward making a spiral-bound flip-book of my favorite scriptures and quotes and propping it on the ledge above the kitchen sink in an effort to transmit optimistic messages into my brain while scraping root vegetable residue off the inside of my slow cooker. They’ve helped me to seek significance in domestic chores and work toward becoming a transcendental tidy-upper-er. A divine dish-washer.
I’ve even attempted getting in the spirit by coining a few of my own insights:
Children need little more than to know they are heard. (My children will make sure you HEAR them.)
Some things are best left in the past. Stop searching for the missing sock.
(Yeah. Those never made it onto sticky notes.)
Truth is, unbridled optimism doesn’t work for me. I want to tell you that a gritty kitchen floor causes me to bubble over with gratitude for time spent at the beach. That an opaque film on the front door incites me to give thanks for my happy, slobbery dog (or toddler?)
I wish I could tell you that when I change my son’s diaper, I feel gratitude for his functioning GI tract, for nourishing food, for fields and seeds and farmers and harvest, for delivery trucks and refrigerators and my big old propane grill in the backyard. But sometimes all I really think is, “EWWWW! A whole kernel of corn?”
Though I am generally joyful and thankful, there’s no film reel of sunshine and pixie dust and baby hedgehogs spinning in my head. There’s a better chance I’m singing Everybody Hurts than Walking on Sunshine while I unload the dishwasher or scour the sink.
There must be others who feel this way — that chores are CHORES! They’re not much FUN. They eat up time in my day and keep me from doing stuff that really matters. They demand my attention today even though I swear I just gave it. I mean, this thing was empty YESTERDAY.
And this thing.
Even with my favorite Good Earth tea steeping in my UFF DA! mug and Israel Kamakawiwo’ole humming about rainbows, many tasks I face on a daily basis are tolerable at best. Picking up (and re-picking up) toys, sweeping dog hair from the corners of the dining room, cutting peanut butter toast into twenty-four uniform squares –DRUDGERY, I say.
Can I just like the stuff in my life that I like, and coast through the stuff that keeps me from doing the stuff I like? Can I skip attempting to live in a state of hyperawareness? Does that make me sinful instead of saintly? Heathen, or just human?
Maybe it makes me a person – a person who would rather bike the trails at Fumee Lake than scrub baseboards. Maybe it makes me a human being with likes and moods and preferences, a human being who was created — yes, for serving and mothering and managing, but for other things too, things that I work on in-between chores, or sometimes (shhh!) instead of chores.
Can it be okay to acknowledge that even blessed, happy people can feel a little funked out about soap scum? That the warm tuna fish/cheddar cheese/mushroom commingle in the drain catcher after letting out the sink water gives us full-body heebie jeebies? Can we do that for one another?
We’re not granting permission to grumble through our daily tasks or fail to recognize the areas of life in which we are abundantly blessed. We’re not condemning all things domestic. (I mean, shaking rugs is a blast! Or pressing cloth napkins until they’re all smooth and fresh! And who doesn’t love weed-whacking?) We’re only saying it’s sucky when we over-agitate the toilet water with the scrub brush and splash ourselves in the faces. It’s annoying pulling weeds from the same cracks we pulled them from on Monday. It’s hard to sing If You’re Happy and You Know It while tweezer-extracting a hairball from the bathtub drain.
We’re only saying that what’s necessary, isn’t necessarily rewarding or satisfying. Often, the result doesn’t even last more than a few hours or a few days. We do it because we have to do it, and we’ll keep on doing it for that reason, and maybe that’s perfectly —
Uh-oh. Gotta run. The garbage truck just rumbled into my alley and I forgot to take out the trash — again.