I am probably a little strange (we all knew this already, yes?), but I am a very extreme form of an old soul. When I think about tasks, everyday life, making sense of my laundry, etc., my first instinct is to wonder what they did back then. Why is it that my grandma never seems to struggle with laundry? What about her mom? Or even earlier than that? What did they do with laundry in biblical times? Did they all do it at the same time and chat? I imagine a bunch of women all congregating around a stream or something, washing their one garment and chatting. I think I could get on board with that type of laundry system.
But it isn't the mechanics of washing their clothes or caring for their children or decorating their abodes that interests me. I spend quite a lot of time thinking about how it felt.
Did they whine, like we do now? Did they grumble over their daily tasks?
Two nights in a row I have stayed up extra super late doing dishes. Like, until midnight. And both nights, I threw kind of a fit first. You wanted to watch TV and now there are dishes and now of course I have to do them even though I was the one who cooked dinner and now everyone else gets to sleep while I stand in the kitchen and work! I've said. Nevermind that I wanted to watch TV too. (Wednesday is Lost and Thursday is 30 Rock and The Office. I am addicted to the television.) And I know if I leave them until tomorrow Luke will help me when he gets home from work. I also know that having a clean kitchen shapes my attitude, and in order to be a nice and functional mom tomorrow I will need to have the sink empty tonight. Even if it means begrudgingly doing midnight dishes.
So two nights in a row, I have gone to the kitchen and started doing dishes with a bad attitude and two nights in a row I have found myself secretly enjoying the dishwashing kitchen-cleaning chore. I've gone to bed feeling lighter and woken up ready for a new day, a day that will surely keep me busy enough with its own chores, really-- why pile on leftover chores from yesterday?
And my brain really goes a mile a minute as I scrape the dough from the pizza stone in the silent kitchen. I can actually hear myself think. This is something that happens never during the hours my kids are awake.
My grandma (the same one I referenced above who never has laundry pile-ups) does not own a dishwasher to this day, because she doesn't want one. She just does the dishes every night, standing over the sink sipping wine. If you try to do them for her she always says no, it's okay, I kind of like to do it myself, it helps me relax.
I guess my point is that part of being a mother has always, I think, been forcing yourself to do stuff you really don't want to do at all. It would be so much easier to not make dinner and not do the dishes and not do the laundry and not take the kids outside to play and not do your best to draw turtles and nutcrackers and every other thing your son requests. It would be much easier not to go to the park, to not explain "why" all the time, to not read bedtime stories. But it wouldn't be better.
I love what I am doing right now. I love this phase of my life. I even secretly kind of love doing dishes at midnight. Not because it's easy, but because finally, it all makes sense: my kids are worth every single second of the hard stuff. The driving force of every mom who has ever lived kind of makes sense to me. And that is very satisfying.