Tuesday, November 15, 2011


My wife is very vigorous.  She likes working and she is good at it.  I am lazy.  I like to avoid work and I am good at it.

When I was a young 5th grade teacher, I explained to her that I had a job to do and was busy making lessons plans and preparations and marking papers.  It was her job to run the house, buy the food, transport it, store it, cook it and keep track of our inventory.  In her spare time, she should keep the house as clean as her mother kept hers.  All that while caring for two little girls.  

She began to suspect that, truthfully, she had very little time to herself while I had more.  So, we sat down with paper and pencil and did some figuring.  Turned out that she had about 8 hours a week free and I had 54.  Even a lazy guy could recognize the imbalance and the danger of alienating a great lover.  So we divided up the work a little more evenly.  

Our kids are long grown and I am retired so there is definitely less work, more hours to do it in and a larger labor supply.  We have the carpets cleaned and the windows washed once or twice a year by outside help.  Each week, I wash the floors or vacuum the carpets.  She does the three bathrooms or the dusting.  Daily, one of us cooks the main meal and the other cleans up the kitchen afterwards.

There are still times when the prospect of getting out the pail and mop is not pleasant.  However, I am coming to see housework as Karen Maezen Miller urges, as a great chance to practice being right where I am, doing this very thing right now.  Using that pail and mop is a chance to thank my feet and legs, back and other core muscles, arms, head, eyes, balance: all the tools that allow me to be able to complete the little chore.  Even feeling that irritation that it is time again to do some housework is interesting.  Where exactly in me is that irritation resting?  Where did it come from?  How well can I entertain the irritation in an accepting and respectful manner?

I am not a robot.  I am a living, changing being and marching toward the equipment, getting the chore done, and feeling unreasonably virtuous for having done it shows me my aliveness. 

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