The day my baby brother came home from the hospital, my parents brought me a toy iron and ironing board. They brought my other brother something, too, but I don’t remember what. Mom said she had heard that siblings feel less jealous of the new baby if it’s not all about the new baby, and gifts would make us feel special, too.
When I was in kindergarten, Mom picked up toy clothes lines and toy clothespins to give to the little girl whose name I drew.
Were we being programmed even back when we were three or four to become good homemakers? Nowadays I don’t think any of us would be thrilled if our husbands gave us a package of clothespins or an iron for Christmas, and, in fact, most of them know better than to pull a stunt like that.
When I could barely toddle around on my second Christmas Santa brought me a toy dining table with a faux marble top and chairs and a pink play kitchen set. Later on there was a miniature working sewing machine and perhaps an Easy Bake Oven, too; at least I remember a cousin having one of those.
What occurred to me a couple of days ago is all the hours we piddled away, pretending to work! Work was play in those days. What happened?
When we come home in the afternoon to a sink full of dirty dishes, a full-size working refrigerator full of real food and cabinets filled with real canned goods, and a working stove and dishwasher right there at our fingertips to be “played with” whenever we want (we don’t even have to share with our brothers and sisters!), why aren’t we having fun?
Other ladies do have fun in their kitchens. Me, not so much. The dishwasher makes things easier for me, but loading and unloading is still a chore–not a huge chore, but still an inconvenience when I would much rather be doing other things.
And cooking. Where do I begin? I’d much rather load everyone up in the car and go out to dinner. It’s not that I can’t cook: I just don’t like it. It isn’t fun for me.
We always had Christmas and Thanksgiving at my parents’ house until they passed away, so until then I was never responsible for the entire Christmas or Thanksgiving dinner. Helping my sister or sitting at the kitchen table with Dad while he taught me to make rolls was one thing, but to be almost entirely responsible for pulling the whole meal together was foreign to me and a little stressful the first year or two.
Now, of course, I’m almost a pro at it. My daughter helps me by doing the cole slaw and the deviled eggs, but everything else I put together myself. I’m still a little amazed.
“Isn’t anyone else as shocked as I am that I can put this whole meal together by myself now?” I asked at Christmas.
They’re all nonchalant like “You’re Mom and you can do anything.” After all, this is what moms do. Meanwhile, I’m feeling like a five-year-old with an Easy Bake Oven, extremely proud that my concoctions are edible, let alone worthy of having seconds.
Boy, I’d like to get that joy and wonder back. In the eyes of a child, how fun it would be to wipe off a counter with a real dishcloth and real soapy water and mop the floor with a real mop and have the buttons on my dishwasher actually work!
Real clothes baskets and a real washer and dryer with buttons that really work and a dryer that really dries clothes! Shopping in a real store with a real full-size shopping cart and paying at a real cash register with real money!
When I was in fourth grade, at recess a teacher taught a bunch of us girls how to use a mini loom to knit. She showed us how to use a wooden spool, with four finishing nails driven in a circle around the hole at the top, and a bobby pin to pull the yarn over the yarn of the previous round. My dad was more than happy to make one for me, and I went to town with a variegated skein of purple yarn. Every long car trip, I had my yarn, spool and bobby pin with me. The variegated yarn helped me keep track of how much “knitting” I was able to accomplish during any given road trip. What I ended up with was a long knitted rope, and I have no idea whatever became of it. I had dreams of having it coiled together to make a rug or something, but that never came to pass.
To this day, yarn work is still one thing I rather enjoy. It feels like play still–once I get into it. When I was taking orders for my crochet business, I had so much business I was able to fund an entire church ministry for a whole year just by my crochet orders. I kept the money in a glass jar, and every time we went out to buy picture frames, ink for the printer, paper, ink pens or Gospel tracts we had funds available, thanks to the gift God had given me to crochet.
I don’t crochet for hire anymore. In 2013 I kind of lost my mojo. I’ve picked up my hook again, but I’ve laid aside the business aspect of it.
I think maybe if I could look at cooking as being creative it would be another story. To me, cooking is something that is a never-ending responsibility. If I make dinner now, even if it’s a masterpiece, the family will be hungry again in three or four hours. The same goes with cleaning and laundry.
When I make a hat, the hat is finished. It’s complete. Done. And I don’t have to keep working on it. Housework is never totally complete, or, if it is, it doesn’t stay that way.
The good news is, everyday we get to get out of bed and play some more! We can cook another breakfast using our real cookware and our real ovens! I just wish I could keep that mindset.
Stats for 1/26/2016:
Exercise: a mile on the treadmill with hills
Pre-breakfast snack (E) 5:30: one orange and 1/2 cup of 1% cottage cheese
Breakfast (E) 9:15: chocolate peanut butter shake and two pieces of Ezekiel toast with Happy Farms cheese and peach Polaner all-fruit
Lunch (S) 12:30: tuna salad (tuna, mayo, eggs, celery and onion) wrap with lettuce and a handful of cashews with sea salt
Afternoon snack (S) 4:00: blueberry muffin in a mug
Dinner (crossover) 7:30: chili