Tuesday, June 07, 2005

The Easy Road part three

I went home. Back to the day to day routines and no paycheck and having to scrimp again - still. The big paycheck never had a chance to arrive. But after all the attention and all the pumping up of my attitude, ego, and ability it was time to go where I really mattered. I was making all kinds of strides and money for a corporation that in the long run probably doesn't even remember my contributions or name. At home, no one said thanks or appreciated what I was doing...yet.

The thing about being a mom is this: No one cares until it's too late. No one cares if you were there to do all the icky stuff, or even the really really fun things unless they go wrong and then they tell you about their disappointment or lack due to your efforts. It is the dictionary definition of "thankless job". But does that make it less important or necessary? Less worthy of praise and thanks? Consider a "janitor" or "housekeeper" for a facility. Let's say a hospital. No one ever really thinks about them. Heck, when is the last time a housekeeper saved anyone's life? The doctors do that, right? Maybe the nurses? Well think about it, no, "janitors" and "housekeepers" are right up there in the life saving business and no one shows them the respect they are due. Why? Because we assume they are uneducated, unmotivated, less than.., frankly, they aren't nurses or doctors when they had the same opportunity to become such as anyone else. But they choose to stay low and mop and sanitize and wash the laundry and wipe up the vomit and blood on the floor. Imagine a hospital where a janitor/housekeeper does less than the job requires and you are next to lay in that bed they cleaned. It gives me the heebeejeebeeies thinking about what could be left behind. Although I can honestly say I have never searched out a janitor to say "thanks, I mean it, really, thanks for keeping the place clean."*

The whole idea of political correctness nudges us to rename these janitors "housekeepers" in an effort to elevate their status. I can hear the voices now, "yeah, now we are compared to janitors! I HATE being a housekeeper, housewife, SAHM, whatever, I am more than that!" We hate it because of all the "someones" out there, some in our own homes that demean this work as menial and something worthy of "any idiot". Think back to what would happen without your menial labours, icky-ness everywhere. And we have all seen it ourselves; that one lady who just can't get it together in her own house. It's filthy and smells and we all think ill of her and sorry for her families. Yet, we demean ourselves for doing the job correctly. It's a conundrum for sure!

Perhaps the original sin is with women. We are, whether we like it or not, the primary care-givers (another PC attempt at elevation) for those in our families. EVEN the women who work outside the home full time and come home to another's "help" or none at all. I see my sister in this role. She works outside her home and still comes home to make a warm meal, clean the house, reared worthy children and kept a happy guy all the while. How she accomplished all that I can't imagine, I wasn't a good working mom and I know it. But there are women like my sister who do manage to do it; out of necessity or talent, they succeed. But the fact remains: women teach their families and are primarily responsible for the rearing of the brood. Part of that teaching should include respect for mommy and what she is doing, whatever she is doing. I mean really teach our children, both genders, what is involved in all this "care-giving". We all point fingers at the examples of ill parenting, housekeeping or basic living. How about pointing some fingers in the other direction?

Although the paychecks never came, the payoff has. I can see it in my sister's home as well, so I don't think it is a matter of the "stay at home"s versus the "work out side the home"s. For me the pay off comes to those who have taken the hard road. Done the menial and elevated those labours into what they truly are. They choose to serve and sacrifice for their children and spouses willingly and with a good attitude. They teach those being served the value of having a good home with parents who care enough to stay actively involved throughout the rough road. The payoff comes when you see the last of your daughters at the alter of the temple, dressed in purity and reflecting the teachings and principles taught by parents who took "the easy road" and lived life for their family rather than going for what they could have had in the "real world". The thanks may be silent, late, or perhaps there are those times when the "movie stuff" actually happens and your sons write you a long thoughtful thank you letter on the day of their temple sealing. I have received 3 such "thank you"s and let me tell you, nothing can compare to those kinds of paychecks. It helps me see that I really do matter and what I do, all the mundane mindless dribble that goes with the mom role is worth it. I am worth it. Taking the predictable road is worth it. Sanrio International has long forgotten S'mee; but my family will be with me for eternity.

*Since the original writing if this post I have sought out housekeepers, janitors and other folks who make it their life's work to keep things nice for others, and say, "Thank you" in a way that they understand just how much I appreciate their effort.

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