Housework or "home-making" can seem tedious: the daily ritual of chores that once completed, only needs to be done again and again. For parents, "making a home" is the never-ending work of meeting the needs of others.
"When considered in terms of their enormous life-giving importance, the feeding and clothing of a family and maintaining of a household can be undertaken in the contemplative spirit. They become, like prayer and worship, acts of love that transform us and, in turn, the larger world around us."
The Quotidian Mysteries-Kathleen Norris,
|Mother and Daughter Wash Day, 1870 [source]|
No matter how busy our schedules are, many of these daily tasks, "quotidian mysteries", can be enjoyable and fulfilling. Haven't we all experienced the satisfying feeling of walking into an orderly room, with the bed made and clothes put away? And who doesn't look forward to the aroma of freshly baked bread? Or the crisp feel of clean sheets, just brought in from the clothesline (okay, maybe towels, warm and soft - straight from the dryer - are more your style)?
Housekeeping may seem mundane, but it's not simple! Industrialization did not eliminate or reduce "women's work", it vastly increased the productivity of women working at home. Doing the important things (providing healthy meals and a clean - not immaculate - home, reading aloud to your children), and not being constantly led to the point of distraction by the urgent things (telephone calls, emails, unplanned interruptions, etc.) can be challenging. Sometimes the important and urgent intersect. We need to take time management seriously and set priorities for the different seasons of our family life.
Another challenge with keeping house can be one's expectations. Pinterest is fun and helpful (I even have a practical "Quotidian: Daily Care of Home and Family" Board), but this current fad can also be a source of distraction and unrealistic expectations - which can lead to procrastination. Margaret Kim Peterson, in her book Keeping House, notes:
"There has surely always been a gap between the way people keep their houses and the way they would like ideally to keep them. But many of us, I suspect, are demoralized by the task of keeping house in part because we know that our houses, no matter how well kept, will never look like the palaces in the dream house publications. And so we give up, preferring unattainable ideals to less than perfect realities."
|Realistic? No - Architectural Digest Home Library [source].|
Her answer to avoiding this temptation? Humility and gratitude for what we have, and willingness to create in our homes and habits "enough order and tidiness to promote convenience and peace and hospitality."
I've enjoyed watching my daughter, Mary, wash and meticulously fold all the newborn baby boy clothes her sister-in-law recently passed down her. I could hardly wait to present Mary with my baby-smell-in-a-box-secret: Ivory Snow. She's been gleefully doing laundry ever since, busily nesting while she awaits the arrival of her little one.
Speaking of waiting, after eight weeks of being on bed rest to avoid pre-term labor, my daughter is up and around now (and due in two weeks)! Yesterday we went out (we made our beds first, of course) for a visit to her hospital and an enjoyable late morning breakfast at a new restaurant/bakery I've been excited to take her to: Le Pain Quotidien (literally "Daily Bread").
|Le Pain Quotidien, Newport Beach|
|Amazing, right? We had a frittata and fruit, too.|
|Mommy Mary and Baby Peter are doing great!|
“... he got out the luncheon-basket and packed a simple meal, in which, remembering the stranger's origin and preferences, he took care to include a yard of long French bread, a sausage out of which the garlic sang, some cheese which lay down and cried, and a long-necked straw-covered flask wherein lay bottled sunshine shed and garnered on far Southern slopes.” ― Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows
Books about Housekeeping and Laundry:
The Quotidian Mysteries, by Kathleen Norris (for Moms)
The Tale of Miss Tiggy-Winkle, by Beatrix Potter (for kids)
We Help Mommy, illustrated by Eloise Wilkin (Little Golden Book)
Knuffle Bunny, by Mo Willems (lost bunny at a laundromat!)
Books about Baking Bread:
Sun Bread, by Elisa Kleven. Winter's gray chill has set in and everyone misses the sun-especially the baker. So she decides to bring some warmth to the town by making sun bread. And as the bread bakes, rising hot and delicious, everyone comes out to share in its goodness. Everyone, including the sun itself. With a lilting, rhyming text, colorful illustrations, and a recipe for baking your own sun bread
The Woman and the Wheat, by Jane Meyer. An excellent choice for teaching children about the mystery of the bread that becomes food from heaven, in Holy Communion. And Jane has an excellent blog about baking - see my past post about her books and website/blog, here.
You might also enjoy my past post about cooking/food/books: The Secret Ingredient: Learning (& Fun!)