I think I may officially be too old for traditional camping… Well, at least festival camping, with it’s late nights and early mornings… I am still recuperating from my adventure last week, and on top of being sore and fatigued, I’m also trying to catch up on the things I wasn’t home to do.
The ever-extended task list
I’ve discovered that Sammi has a little infection and that’s why he’s been a recluse, so I’m nursing the poor baby back to health as well as trying to regain my usual momentum around the house. My friend is on me about footage I collected from our performance, meanwhile I haven’t even had time to unpack, let alone think about the footage yet. HW wants to spend time together, as do I. Friends want to hang out. Articles need to be written, web pages need to be updated, collaborators need to be contacted… The list is never ending, but none of that comes before my top priorities are done, all of which (at this time in my life) center around maintaining my grandmother’s home and the office for the family busnesses.
Life keeps going, stuff comes up, plans get changed and added – the reality of being an adult right?! I suppose I know this, I’m not even sure I mind it… But I hate being treated like I am not doing anything whilst simultaneously feeling like I’m drowning beneath my obligations.
The invisible weight of traditional expectations
This is the plight of the householder. This is why women divorce their husbands after all their “nagging” never serves to get them any help with the cooking and cleaning. This is why stay at home moms work the equivalent of 2.5 full time jobs… Most of what goes on in the home to keep it comfortable, clean and functional simply goes unnoticed and under appreciated.
It’s not as simple as making a healthy dinner every night, though with dishes and prep that task alone easily takes 2 hours – there’s also the meal planning, grocery shopping and unloading, pantry stocking/food inventory maintenance, kitchen management and cleaning. It’s not as simple as keeping things clean; it’s having a flexible chore schedule, weekly/monthly task lists, and routines to ensure you don’t undo the efforts of one task by completing another out of the preferential order; it’s tidying – all day every day – to maintain the inviting comfort of the home; it’s organizing and reorganizing cabinets, closets and storage; it’s planting and it’s landscaping; it’s laundry and errands; as well as being prepared to stop or pause any of that to be available to others when they stop by for a visit, call to chat or otherwise interrupt your day because “your always home.”
Alienated from comfort and relaxation
Sometimes, as unfortunate as it is, I want to be anywhere but home. Work and home are synonymous for me; if I’m exhausted from a long day, it’s not as simple as leaving the office and kicking my shoes off to relax on the couch. My work, any unfinished chores that were postponed because of someone’s even well-meaning distraction or disruption, and any unchecked task for the day remain front and center in my attention no matter where in the house I try to retreat to for some semblance of peace and tranquility.
There’s a reason they say “a woman’s work is never done:” it’s the truth (of course, this applies to male/nonbinary householders as well). We don’t get to just clock out and check out, we’re always “on.”
Someone’s hungry? Ask the householder what there is to eat and/or to make you something. Someone can’t find something? Ask the householder where in the home to look and/or to get it for you. There’s a mess? Tell the householder and/or leave it for them to deal with at some point. They’ve got nothing better to do than meet all needs of everyone who ever steps foot in the home, right?!
Wrong. We’ve got a lot more going on than just making sure everyone else is comfortable, that everyone else’s needs are met and that the home runs like a “well oiled machine” despite often being the only one bothering to “oil” it or even monitor the “oil” level.
Desperate for recognition
We don’t need people to feel sorry for us. We don’t even need less to do or help doing these things (though that would be amazing). What we do need is appreciation, understanding and consideration. If you’re not helping our efforts, at least be decent enough to not hinder them.
Don’t track mud all over just cleaned floors. Don’t leave dishes strewn about. Don’t just drop your towel, your clothes or your shoes. Stop. Notice. Be grateful.
Go the extra distince and see your householder as more than just your maid/cook. We are people with dreams, hobbies and side hustles. The truth is, we have better things to do than just “take care of everything” so that you “don’t have to worry about anything.” Recognize that. Savor it. Engrain it into your consciousness.
Don’t simply ask us, “what are you going to do today?” Because that’s basically just admitting that you don’t take notice of the millions of tiny, under appreciated yet absolutely essential things we do every day.
Creating the sacred amidst the chaos
I wake up 2-4 hours before my day as a householder starts so that I can take care of me. Working out, doing my Sadhana and hopefully getting in some study or writing in all before my grandma even wakes up. After the day is done and I’ve put away leftovers and cleaned the kitchen for the 3rd or 4th time of the day, I sometimes get a bit more time to work online, read and sometimes even socialize.
These times are carved out purposefully so that I don’t go completely insane, but it’s not a fool proof method. I often feel bad turning down invitations to go out, but I simply have to prioritize my personal projects over entertainment sometimes – especially if my passions have been continually neglected for a while. Other times, I’m just exhausted.
If your householder is acting standoffish, chances are it’s not how they wish things were either. Give them the benefit of the doubt, or better yet, give them a break completely. Dishes aren’t done yet? Do them. Have dirty laundry? Do it yourself. Something needs cleaning? You got it – clean the mess!
Take this as an invitation to appreciate the grace your householder provides you, and to return that grace to them as well. Be patient. Be kind – and for goodness sake, take notice of all they do for you instead of asking “what did you do today?”