On day 3 of my 40 days of commitment, I’m realizing just how much I dislike housework. I want to use the word “hate”, but I refuse. For, it is not my conscious mind that holds the dislike. In fact, I want to like my housework. I like other types of work that are similar to this. I love tending the chickens, even cleaning their poopy nest boxes. I love it! I love turning the compost with a shovel borrowed from our landlord because we haven’t bought proper tools. Seriously, I find joy in it. Planting and hoeing the garden is another great joy. I also absolutely love to cook. However, put me at the sink to wash dishes, and I’m a wreck of nerves.
It is something deep down that causes me to have anxiety when trying to keep a tidy house. I’ve been trying to find the source of that, so I looked to my childhood. My mother didn’t seem to enjoy her housework. She was too tired from her job, and I saw how she became aggravated when cleaning. Then, there was the power struggle of my teen years and the begging for me to clean my room. Other women I’ve been in close contact with, have been obsessive about cleaning, to the point of being militant. If you found yourself having to help in the work, be careful and pay attention. If it’s not done right, they’ll take your head off. And then, I came to John’s mother and found an example of what I would like to be when it comes to homemaking. She keeps an immaculate home, which I’m not aspiring to with two small children in the house. What I do love about her is that she really does seem to enjoy cleaning and keeping things tidy. I want that ease when it comes to that kind of work. I’d love for my housecleaning to be a time of focus and almost meditation.
What happens to me now? I feel my pulse rise. I get the feelings of butterflies in my stomach, and I find myself ready to lash out. It comes from somewhere deep inside and housework is the trigger. No, I’m not lazy. I’m a hard worker, and wouldn’t be anything but that. I really don’t know other than seeing people view housework as a discipline tool or a burden until later in my life, where it could have come from.
When thinking of Waldorf inspired homemaking and education, how we approach our housework is really critical. I’m realizing for the first time how our approach to it will set the tone for how our children will view this type of work.
As we wash the morning dishes, sweep the floor, dust the furniture, let’s ask ourselves what our child sees in our gesture. Does he see care in our bodily rhythm as we bend toward the task, or does he see a hurried duty? Does he see pleasure in the task, or resentment? Because the young child learns by imitation, he will imitate not only our physical gestures, but also our “inner gesture”. We can teach our child to enjoy the rhythmic activity of the care of his toys and playthings by our own conscious enjoyment of the care of our home. As we bring our conscious presence to the rhythm of these tasks, we give our child a dual gift: a sense of purpose and presence in the rhythms of daily life.
Sharifa Oppenheimer, Heaven on Earth
I read this and realized how my actions were impacting not only myself and how I viewed my day to day, but also my children. It’s not a wonder why Deladis won’t participate without coaxing in tidying her room. She sees the stress it causes me and wants no part of that. Now, I’m wondering how we change years of deeply grained habit. I suppose little by little. I’m trying to be conscious of my feelings when they arise, and to talk myself out of them or meditate through them. There’s not a reason that cleaning up after our family should put me into hypertension.
I have to start somewhere. I will start with acknowledging that I love the look of a tidy, clutter free home. I will say I don’t mind sweeping or laundry so much. I can say that there is nothing else that absolutely has to be done in my day aside from taking care of the girls and John, so there is time for it. It’s a start.
I’ll use this as inspiration.