Monday, November 9, 2009

Just Add It To My To Do List

Michael has this beef with me and I’d say it’s somewhere around 90-150% legitimate. It goes something like this: He comes home from work and all I do is complain about what certain children have done, what I have NOT done, and what I have left to do. That I am finished by the time he walks through the door.

Guilty as charged. That window of time between 4 and 6 p.m. just kicks my butt. I call it “The Witching Hour”, my friend Camilla calls it “Suicide Hour”, whatever you call it, it brings out the best in NO ONE. Younger children are winding down (especially if they’re beyond an age where they take naps). And getting Hungry, older kids who’ve already done their time in school can be frustrated at the prospect of hitting the books. And me, well, I’m looking down the barrel of another night full of meal prep, clean up, and all the little things that come with bedtime. Sierra still likes me to read Anne of Green Gables to her (though she reads ahead on her phone) and often I don’t start writing until the evening. The busiest time of the day seems to be when I have the least amount of energy.

(Not to say that I’m doing this alone. Michael helps with dinner, dishes, and clean up all the time. He gets the boys brushed, reads “Encyclopedia Brown” to them (and always knows the answers before it ends), and prays with them. It’s a huge help.)

So anyway, he gets home and what he gets, well friends, it sure isn’t my best.

Yesterday Camilla gave a great lesson in Relief Society. It was entitled “Family: The Sweetest Union for Time and Eternity” . It covered relationships between parents and children, siblings, and husbands and wives. The next two paragraphs are directly out of the lesson book (The Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith). This part discusses the responsibility of the man:

“It is the duty of a husband to love, cherish, and nourish his wife, and cleave unto her and none else; he ought to honor her as himself, and he ought to regard her feelings with tenderness, for she is his flesh, and his bone, designed to be an help unto him, both in temporal, and spiritual things; one into whose bosom he can pour all his complaints without reserve, who is willing (being designed) to take part of his burden, to soothe and encourage his feelings by her gentle voice.

“It is the place of the man, to stand at the head of his family, … not to rule over his wife as a tyrant, neither as one who is fearful or jealous that his wife will get out of her place, and prevent him from exercising his authority. It is his duty to be a man of God (for a man of God is a man of wisdom,) ready at all times to obtain from the scriptures, the revelations, and from on high, such instructions as are necessary for the edification, and salvation of his household.”

Sounds awfully nice. Next she read this about the woman’s role:

At a meeting of Relief Society sisters, Joseph Smith said: “You need not be teasing your husbands because of their deeds, but let the weight of your innocence, kindness and affection be felt, which is more mighty than a millstone hung about the neck; not war, not jangle [quarreling], not contradiction, or dispute, but meekness, love, purity—these are the things that should magnify you in the eyes of all good men "…

When a man is borne down with trouble, when he is perplexed with care and difficulty, if he can meet a smile instead of an argument or a murmur—if he can meet with mildness, it will calm down his soul and soothe his feelings; when the mind is going to despair, it needs a solace of affection and kindness. … When you go home, never give a cross or unkind word to your husbands, but let kindness, charity and love crown your works henceforward.”

Okay. That’s a lot to work on. We had a good discussion about how nice it would be if we could dig down deep and find the strength to put that smile on when our husbands come home. To go the extra mile and really try to have a meal ready. To do our best to make the dinner hour as pleasant as possible. It’s not only a gift to our husbands but to our kids as well. It can leave them with happy memories for a lifetime.

One older lady told us how much she admires the men with young families these days. They help cook, take care of the children, etc. When she was raising her kids she also had a full time job but she did all the cooking and her husband never changed a diaper. It just wasn’t considered a man’s job.

It got me thinking about my Grandma’s journal that I’ve spent a good deal transcribing. Life was WORK. Granted, it was work most folks did together (thus avoiding so much of the suburban isolation we have today, notwithstanding the advent of Facebook) but it was work. At least in the agrarian lifestyle that was so common, men worked long, hard hours a good portion of the year. Work so rough they kept the patching basket full constantly. My Grandma often mentioned that she spent hours patching the boys’ and men’s clothing. On the one day that she finally caught up with the mending pile, her excitement was palpable. The jobs the women did required long hours and were often difficult as well; it was just different work. It was easy for men and women to see and appreciate how much the other did. Also, the division of labor was not anything that was set in stone. In the summer the women and men worked together to bring in crops and in the fall whole families would come together for butchering. In the winter when there wasn’t so much for the boys to do, my uncles were made to join in with the cleaning and baking alongside the girls.

Today we don’t so much need to divide up the labor. There isn’t women’s work and men’s work; just work that needs doing. And because we don’t see each other all day it’s easy to imagine the other either laughing and having fun with co-workers or sitting on the couch eating bon bons (still don’t know what those are) and watching soaps (proudly, I am soap-sober 11 years next month). At least in my own life, neither of those scenarios is anywhere close to reality.

In fact, I know for certain that my husband has a job with work enough for several people. A job that is very, very stressful. I imagine he’d appreciate coming home to a place that would help him forget about it for a few hours. I mean this is supposed to be my partner in life, right? I could do at least that much. Thanks Camilla; I needed that cold bucket of water over my head;).
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  1. I dont even know what to say. I guess its nice to hear someone else write exactly whats going on in my head.

  2. You too? I have difficulty in the same areas and frequently feel overwhelmed and dump on my ever patient husband. Then I dig myself a greater hole of despair as I mentally beat myself up for not being Anne. I know she is fictional, but she still is the perfect wife and mother. Sounds like I REALLY could have used this lesson. Thank you for sharing!


So, what do you think?