I’ve just spent 45 minutes ironing children’s clothes. Was this a wise decision on my part? Emphatically not. Will my devoted children gaze ecstatically into their closets when they come home from school, brimming over with fervent appreciation for me and my maternal efforts? No they will not. Have I just cast my pearls before swine? Despite the fact that I’m certain that this wasn’t precisely what Jesus was getting at when He made this phrase famous and the also true fact that it’s probably not considered super politically correct to call your children swine, I’m pretty sure I’ve just spent a large portion of my day doing a job which won’t be appreciated and that will perhaps even lead to me feeling ticked at a later juncture that my work hasn’t been properly appreciated. Is this scenario a losing one of my own devising? Oh yes. Do I do it time and time again, friends? Am I the Queen of washing floors right before my herd of children arrive home from school? Am I the Master of the fine art of washing windows immediately prior to seven-year-old-boy birthday parties? Who surpasses me in the skill of knowing just when is the stupidest possible time to wash all of the winter jackets in preparation for summer storage? None among you, I’d venture to guess.
I ask myself time and time again why I do these things. I set myself up for disaster over and over again and yet, compulsively, I press on with completing these meaningless, unappreciated jobs, whose completion or lack thereof, no one but me notices anyway. It’s like the desperate scratching of an ever-present itch. I know I will make myself bleed if I continue to scratch and yet somehow the not scratching option is never one I entertain. And so I organize the markers, all 5000 of them. I put all the little Barbie clothes that no one plays with anymore neatly in their little box. I can’t bear not to and yet I dislike myself when I’m in the middle of these satisfying but meaningless acts.
I’m ashamed when my husband asks me what I’ve done that day. I think of my post secondary education and cringe. Today, I baked flax seed rolls when it’s vastly easier and cheaper, even, to buy their equivalents at the bakery section in the grocery store. But the feel of the dough on my hands as I knead aligns me somehow with my long line of female ancestors and is strangely therapeutic. I also cleaned out three toilets and in this strange cyber confessional, I must say that I enjoyed it. The perfect white porcelain shone out at me in reward when I was done. Something deep and biological in me is accessed in these moments, I think. The women’s rights movement would lament my shiny mirrors and my near obsession in keeping them so.