Saturday, January 22, 2011

Two perspectives on housework

In my last post I talked about this CD that Elisa got from the library. Here are the lyrics from one of the poems. (It is hilarious to hear it read by Carol Channing. I wish I could find a way to put it on here so you could listen to it.)


You know, there are times when we happen to be
Just sitting there, quietly watching TV,
When the program we're watching will stop for a while
And suddenly someone appears with a smile,
And starts to show us how terribly urgent
It is to buy some brand of detergent,
Or soap or cleanser or cleaner or powder or paste or wax or bleach,
To help with the housework.

Now, most of the time it's a lady we see,
Who's doing the housework on TV.
She's cheerfully scouring a skillet or two,
Or she's polishing pots till they gleam like new,
Or she's scrubbing the tub or she's mopping the floors,
Or she's wiping the stains from the walls and the doors,
Or she's washing the windows, the dishes, the clothes,
Or waxing the furniture till it just glows,
Or cleaning the fridge or the stove or the sink,
With a light-hearted smile, and a friendly wink,
And she's doing her best to make us think
That her soap, or detergent or cleanser or cleaner or powder or paste or wax or bleach,
Is the best kind of soap, or detergent or cleanser or cleaner or powder or paste or wax or bleach,
That there is in the whole wide world.
And, maybe it is, and maybe it isn't,
And maybe it does what they say it will do,
But I'll tell you one thing I know is true.
The lady we see when we're watching TV,
The lady who smiles as she scours or scrubs or rubs or washes or wipes or mops or dusts or cleans,
Or whatever she does on our TV screens,
That lady is smiling because she's an actress,
And she's earning money for learning those speeches
That mention those wonderful soaps and detergents and cleansers and cleaners and powders and pastes and waxes and bleaches.

So, the very next time you happen to be
Just sitting there quietly watching TV,
And you see some nice lady who smiles
As she scours or scrubs or rubs or washes or wipes or mops or dusts or cleans,
Remember, nobody smiles doing housework but those ladies you see on TV.
Your mommy hates housework,
Your daddy hates housework,
I hate housework too.
And when you grow up, so will you.
Because even if the soap or cleanser or cleaner or powder or paste or wax or bleach
That you use is the very best one,
Housework is just no fun.

Children, when you have a house of your own,
Make sure, when there's house work to do,
That you don't have to do it alone.
Little boys, little girls, when you're big husbands and wives,
If you want all the days of your lives
To seem sunny as summer weather,
Make sure, when there's housework to do,
That you do it together!

~by Sheldon Harnick

Then there's this perspective on housework over on Ann Voskamp's blog. Jump over there to read the whole entry, but here's a quote:

Is this housework a picture of entering into Redemption? To bring restoration to that which has fallen… This housework, this kitchen work, a picture of prayer? To bring the ordinary life to the Omnipotent God…. Where else do we meet God if not in the everyday work?

“To lift up the hands in prayer gives God glory, but a man with a dungfork in his hand, a woman with a slop pail, give Him glory too. God is so great that all things give Him glory if you mean that they should.”

~Ignatius Loyola

Monday, January 17, 2011

Mommy is my occupation

Lately Elisa has been listening to this CD from the library entitled, Free To Be You and Me. It's a CD that first came out in 1973 and it is very agenda driven. It asserts through poems, songs and stories that women are indeed equal to men, that girls and boys can be anything they want when they grow up etc. etc. It is pretty amusing, a lot of the stories are downright funny (for adults that is, Elisa doesn't get the stories at all). Now I am sure that back in the 70's this was needed. But now it is apparent that perhaps the pendulum had to swing a little too far in order for them to assert their point.

Anyway, another thing Elisa has been into lately is Richard Scarry books. You know the ones: tons of detailed pictures on each page, usually involving animals doing things around town, in an airport, at home etc. So I checked out a Richard Scarry DVD for her from the library. And wow! She loved it! The theme of the video is "What do people do all day?" And it is about different occupations. At the end of the video there is a song that starts, "You can be anything you want to be..."

So, now I have set the stage for the following conversation that occurred yesterday over lunch...

Elisa: "Mommy, what do you want to be when you grow up?"
Me: "I want to be a mommy."
Elisa: (regards me carefully for a moment and then, clearly unsatisfied by my answer says) "No." "What do you want to be?" (sees that I am eating a carrot) "Maybe a carrot-eater?" (This comes from a Richard Scarry book where Lowly worm says that he'd like to be a apple-pie-eater when he grows up, and the narrator says, "Well, I think that is very nice work indeed.")
Me: "Sure, I'd like to be a carrot-eater."
Elisa: (pleased with my new answer) "I want to be a cake decorator."
Me: "Do you know what a cake decorator does?"
Elisa: "Yes, she puts the flowers behind the cakes and then takes them for birthdays." She then launches into "Happy Birthday" to Jonathan, which he fully appreciates.

It's so funny having this conversation with my just turned three-year-old. And it dawns on me that she already recognizes the potential to "be" something when she grows up. She takes for granted that she will be a mommy. Of course she will be a mommy. But now she is realizing that she could also do something else too. And the potential! The sky is the limit when you are three!

But for me, now that I am thirty-one... well, I guess I'll have to settle with being a carrot-eater.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Parenting with doubts and worries.

When Did I Get Like This? The Screamer, The Worrier, The Dinosaur-Chicken-Nugget-Buyer & Other Mothers I Swore I'd Never Be.

I'm reading this book. I got it from the library yesterday, and today I'm a little over halfway through (thanks to Greg's late night meeting). After reading the title, I knew I had to read the book.

You see, I swore I'd never be the dirty car seat and stroller mother. You know the ones: cheerios and crumbs in every possible nook and cranny of their kid's car seat. It's not that I thought less of those parents, certainly they had reasons for not cleaning out their kid's seat. I just wasn't going to be one of them.

I did pretty well when it was just Elisa. One of my friends even commented, "My daughter has the same car seat as yours, but Elisa's looks so... clean!"

Fast forward 2 years, and yep, you guessed it. I am now a card carrying member of the Dirty Car Seat Club (well okay, that last part is made up... certainly if I had time to join a club, I'd have time to clean out the car seat.) Once I accidentally smashed a banana between the infant seat and the seat base. By the time I finally took the base out of the car to try and clean it, it wouldn't come clean any longer. Or maybe I just gave up too easily. I guess we'll never know, because unless some astonishing change happens (nesting instincts in the final days before our next child is born perhaps?), I will not be cleaning the car seat base.

Honestly, it doesn't bother me that I've become this mother. The cleanliness of the car seats is really the least of my concern these days. But there are other things that really do bother me. Am I spending enough time with Jonathan alone? Am I giving him enough attention? After all, shouldn't he be talking by now? Is it normal for older siblings to feel so jealous of younger siblings that they continually refer to themselves and demand that you refer to them as "the baby"? Are they getting enough vegetables? Enough flouride? Enough exercise? Are they under-socialized since I stay home with them? The questions go on and on. Don't get me wrong. I know I'm a good mom... just in the way that most moms are good moms: I love my kids. I spend time with my kids. I do what I think is best for them in the long run. But I know that a lot is riding on my decisions... and so I'm constantly trying to be the best mom I can be. And sometimes, fears and doubts creep in. Am I doing enough? Am I enough?

And yet, my children continue to grow and thrive. They may end up in therapy someday, lamenting that their mother was a constant worrywart, who never cleaned out the car. But for now, they are blissfully unaware of my doubts, fears, and shortcomings. A hug from Mommy is enough to calm crying, and a kiss from Mommy has magical healing power. Someday Mommy's hugs and kisses won't be enough. But when my kids get to that day, I know that God will meet them there... and He will be enough. So today I find comfort in the fact that we are all imperfect parents who do our best and let our perfect Heavenly Father do the rest.

Sunday, January 9, 2011


Remember this post? Well, I didn't get our stockings done in time for this Christmas. But I'm determined to have them done in time for next Christmas! And now I can proudly say: one down, three to go!
(Ignore my crazy outfit, it was late at night and I had already put on my pj pants!)

Friday, January 7, 2011

Christmas kids

We had a great Christmas. It was so nice not to have to travel. We spent time with Greg's family on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Then spent the next few days up in Tacoma with my family.
Two of my favorite kid moments over Christmas:

A couple weeks before Christmas, Elisa requested that I put "I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus" by the Jackson 5 on repeat on her CD player during rest time (she doesn't nap anymore). "Are you sure you won't get tired of it?" I asked. She assured me that that is what she wanted. So, I obliged. She listened to it over and over again for the next 2 hours. After rest time she told me, "I didn't get tired of it; I got awake of it!"

Jonathan is such a little ham... during Christmas at Wanda's he made an entrance wearing this...
...which got a great response. He was super happy with himself.

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmastime! And Happy New Year! (Yes, I am a few days behind)