Sunday, May 29, 2011
Turning kitchen warrior
I cringe at the thought of washing the dishes. Oh, let me correct that: I cringed at the thought of washing the dishes. Had I blogged about it yesteday, the present tense would have been appropriate. But our household helper coming back today seems to make all the difference as to my sentiments toward this chore...
It is really something I am still trying to understand. Several days ago, I felt I needed help. I had come to dread the hour or so before lunch time or dinner time only because that would mean I would have to do the dishes soon after. I didn't understand the change in sentiment -- I had come to like dishwashing and to accept it as a normal part of family life (only when our househelper is away for days or weeks, though).
I had even looked forward to carrying out this duty especially when I had been gone the whole day and thus would only have the dishwashing as my contribution to the upkeep of the home for that day.
But about a week ago started the dishwashing-dreading. "I need help in making dishwashing more appealing," I told some online friends. Till then I had already gone through quite a lot of musical genres to accompany me at the sink (Beatles, classical, movie themes -- but I had grown fond of Vivaldi and Mozart playing in the background while I worked the suds; they seem to emphasize the dignity of housework somehow, and bolster my enthusiasm for the task at hand). But procrastinating till almost midnight before finally facing a dirty stack of china meant I needed help!
"Dance the cha-cha while washing the dishes?" someone suggested. That was an amusing thought, and to my mind it posed a challenge in keeping the suds off the floor.
"Why don't you play 'Handel's Messiah' while you're at it?" another one proposed. I had done that before, I replied, but yes...it did put a certain "ooomph" into my spirits every time I was all set to conquer the dirty dishes and helped me remember the truth that every kind of honest work carries with it a certain dignity. So, no matter how menial household chores seemed to feel at times, listening to the Halleluia chorus was a welcome reminder of work well done being a good thing to offer to the One who blessed me with hands to work with in the first place.
Somehow the Hail Mary -- the words that the Angel Gabriel uttered to the mother of Jesus when it was made known to her that she had been chosen for a very special mission in the story of salvation -- found its way into the conversation. I had asked for a Tagalog translation and someone provided it. I figured, since I hadn't memorized it, might as well work on it while scrubbing dinner plates.
Feeling irked by the prospect of dishwashing got me really thinking. I mean, if I could enjoy chores one day and almost loathe them the next, where's the stability in that? And what if it graduates to more important things, like marriage? It's a fact that marriage is no walk in the park and that efforts are necessary to live it as it is meant to be.
Just like dishwashing, living one's lifelong commitment is bound to feel boring once in a while. Should that be surprising? I suppose not (so why am I puzzled by my sudden desire to flash the "talk to the hand" stance at dirty dishes that await me?). Maybe because knowing it and experiencing it are two different things. And though I uttered no vows to declare a lifelong commitment to dishwashing, the same principle stands: the beauty of keeping at it regardless of how one feels about the whole thing. I hope a married person gets to read this sometime in the midst of a rocky stage in the relationship, and take home the point that marriage indeed is a bed of roses -- which means the presence of thorns. And they will make themselves felt from time to time. But that doesn't take away the beauty and the value of the bouquet that is meant to last a lifetime.
I doubt it if I'll ever think of household chores as beautiful bouquets of roses, but who knows? When mopping the floor -- even when done for one's family -- gets to feel too much like drudgery, one's imagination can actually save the day and issue reminders that go beyond "This, too, shall pass." Reminders such as "We can do no great things; only small things with great love." And how can that not make a mop, a dirty dish or a sponge look like a challenge worth conquering (and a conquerable challenge at that)?