June 11, 2007
searching for significance
While at a family reunion of my father-in-law's family one of my brother's-in-law asked me, "So, what have you been up to lately?" A simple question but it left my head spinning over the past few weeks looking for a remotely interesting answer. "Nothing much," I answered. He's an engineering student with a job at Thompson Tractor who just got back from an engineering competition in South Dakota and who converses well on a number of subjects that fly right over my head (and occasionally my interest). You should hear him and Allen discussing things. In a way he's doing all the things that I was taught to consider valuable -getting his degree, impressing his boss, etc. Nowadays (when I'm not in a slump) I spend a good bit of my day picking up the apartment, cleaning, cooking, buying groceries and sundries, planning out ways to get more storage out of our limited closet and wall space, wandering around the internet, working on little sewing/craft projects, reading, etc. In other words, on a good day I do a myriad of things (including those things that really don't have much interest even for me) and who's only goal in the doing is to not be doing them as quickly as possible. In many ways this isn't work that I was taught to value. However, going to college and becoming something important was valued. Another part of my discontent with my work is likely that at home any work I did was considered a bare minimum. Getting straight A's through college (except for one B) was the bare minimum. Coming home and working on laundry or picking up the bathroom or helping in the kitchen was the bare minimum. In other words, a good grade or a clean bathroom was no reason to get excited because I merely did what was expected of me, and I'd immediately be faced the task of trying (and occasionally failing) to meet their expectations again. The point is that by training and possibly even inclination I tend to view even the best day's work at little better than what had to be done and something that probably should have been done yesterday. Until I can break out of this cycle of thinking about my own work as a housewife I think I'll likely be stuck in a cycle of dissatisfaction and disinclination with and for the work I do everyday. It's not that what I do has no meaning; it's just that I'm searching for the proper meaning to it. I'm searching for the significance of a floor vacuumed and laundry folded. I can't say that I've found it yet, but at least I know what I looking for now. And as I get better as tending to my responsibilities I'm sure the scope of them will enlarge, and I'll find it easier to answer my brother-in-law's question with a satisfied, "Well, when I haven't been chasing a toddler and tending the baby and generally keeping up the house I've been poking at x, and it's been a really good week."