Friday, July 22, 2011
“Before enlightenment chop wood and carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood and carry water.” -Wu Li
Growing up, my mom seemed the patron saint of household chores. My dad never pitched in to help. I never volunteered. I thought about it. But weighing the angel on my shoulder against how boring the tasks seemed to me, the devil always won. As an adult, my devotion to housework continued to falter. I was sure that my mom possessed some will power that skipped a generation. How’d she do it, I wondered? The proverbial skies parted when I joined the sisterhood called motherhood. You can have faith that the dishes will do exactly what they did the last time you washed them. Stick your hand in warm, sudsy water, swish a rag around a few times, and out comes a sparkling plate, absolved of all grease and dirt. The only thing for sure about a baby is that what worked yesterday might not work today. The most doubt you face when making the bed is whether you can get all four corners of the fitted sheet to stay put. When fresh laundry is properly placed in dresser drawers, order and balance seem restored. There is nothing predictable about a child. Soothe a sleep-deprived soul with each rhythmic chop, chop of garlic or an onion. Simply put, the mundane becomes meditative. Claire is full of wonderful, constant, mercurial energy. She engages with the world full force. Housework is a sometimes necessary yin to that yang.