Like an uneasy thief bungling in the dark, plundering goodies belonging to another, I find myself surreptitiously stealing a weekend just for me. I am ‘chilling,’ as they say. Filling my weekend hours with self-indulgence and reckless, heedless nothingness.
Truth be told, I find it just a little exhausting. I have trouble drowning out my internal list of ‘shoulds’ any time I attempt to steal a few moments for things that don’t line up with what I feel I need to accomplish during those two days of grace.
I’m guessing most working women feel this tug of war between our need for a little self-gratification versus what we think we must get done during the weekend. We know that if we put off doing what must be done, we will pay for it during the week. Sometimes, though, you really need to take some time for yourself.
I learned that this week when I ended up with a vicious sore throat that put me out of action for four or five days. Have you ever had one of those sore throats that feels like someone has stuck an ice pick into the side of your throat – and left it there? As our President might say, it was ‘bigly’ bad! I found myself unable to swallow, to sleep, to concentrate. And it wasn’t until a visit to the doctor and some meds that I finally began to feel better toward the end of the week.
Until then, I’d been running about much like the proverbial chicken minus his head, trying to do all things and be all things. My body finally said, “Whoa! Get a grip, woman! Take some time, or I’m gonna make you take it!”
So, I’m gifting myself with a ‘Me Weekend’ before the beginning of the new work week. I figure it is my last opportunity to decompress before the biggest stressor ever created by Modern Man take place: The Vacation.
That’s right – The Vacation. In three weeks time, I will be on holiday. I am greatly looking forward to a break of several weeks from the office. There’s just one catch.
Every year right before The Vacation, I go into overdrive. Because I know I will be on holiday for several weeks, I work like a fiend at my place of employment. I try not only to get the work at hand completed, but also any work that may come up during my absence. It involves alerting (warning?) people that I’ll be out of the office so if they wish to have something accomplished during that time that would normally involve me, they’d better plan ahead and let me know now.
Because we have two dogs and my husband is adverse to the idea of putting them into even a ‘country club’ kennel, we have someone stay at our home during the weeks we are away. We are lucky – we have a lovely couple who stay with our two dachshunds and treat them in the lordly manner to which they have grown accustomed. Nice idea. However, this creates extra work for me. Now I feel the need to go into a cleaning frenzy and get the house organized for the people who will be living, sleeping and eating there.
My husband doesn’t get my need to reorganize our closets, pantry, utensil drawers, and on and on. He gets slightly irritated with me as I’m vacuuming the carpets as we’re trying to head out the door to drive to the airport. I try to explain that he’s walked on the carpet, leaving footprints in the nap, and thus I must vacuum away the evidence of his existence so that everything looks pristine and untouched.
He thinks I’m nuts.
I envy his lack of concern about housekeeping. Adopting his easygoing attitude would certainly make my mental and physical life a lot easier. Sometimes I wonder if it is just his attitude – or if it comes down to gender. Right or wrong, I often think that women are more harshly judged on the state of a house’s neatness than a man. People tend to let men off the hook when it comes to a state of ‘casual messiness.’ Women are still viewed as THE HOMEMAKERS. If the house is not neat and organized, what’s up with the wife? Is she lazy? (Couldn’t she put the darned book down long enough to clean out the spice drawer?)
The heck with Equal Pay! I want society to judge men with the same yardstick as a woman when it comes to a neat and well dusted, vacuumed house. When was the last time you watched a man dust the window sills? Tell me something, when you visit a couple’s house and you can write the baseball score on the coffee table by twirling your index finger through the accumulated dust – is your first thought to blame the husband? Nah – it’s his lazy wife. (Um… that would be me, sitting by the window, reading Jeffrey Archer’s latest novel… .)
Ah, well, that’s life.
You know, I wasn’t always quite so relaxed about housekeeping. Aside from the pre-vacation frenzy I throw myself into, I have become a lot more casual in my week-to-week housekeeping. Part of this is because I’m usually pretty done-in from the week at work and the daily highway wars. The other part of it is marriage.
It wears ya down!
Before meeting Mr. Loveton, I was extremely organized. There was a place for everything – and you can bet the farm that everything was in its place. I used to wipe out the sink with a paper towel every time I turned on the tap for a glass of water. There were so many sealed containers of Tupperware in my refrigerator (labeled by food item and expiration date, of course) that you might have assumed I had stock in the company that manufactured those plastic icons of the seventies. My crowning achievement was the spice drawer, where all bottles of spices were lined up alphabetically. I found that very comforting for some reason. Color me neurotic.
And then I married Mr. Loveton.
A man who had no respect for my alphabetization of herbs and spices, who laughed at my beloved spice drawer, and who would often whisk a bottle of cinnamon into the refrigerator when haphazardly clearing away the breakfast meal. A man who brought dogs (and dog fur) and stray outdoor cats into my life. A man who unconsciously trails birdseed from the backyard porch to the bird feeders. A man who leaves towels hanging over the shower rod, and then smiles sheepishly when I explain that is what towel racks are for. As if he didn’t know!
Men and women. Viva la difference?
I say all this with tongue planted firmly in cheek. Mr. Loveton has also brought a lot of joy and laughter into my life. I just wish he liked my alphabet system a little more. And respected my spice drawer.
I also wish he’d get his eyes checked. I think he may have a vision problem.
I have keen eyesight.
As soon as I enter one of the rooms in our house, I can immediately notice: cracks in the drywall; doggy ‘snoot juice’ on the lower panes of the French doors; windows that need cleaning; dust on window sills; splatters on the splashguard above the stove.
Mr. Loveton sees none of these things.
I am definitely scheduling his eye exam for next week. I don’t quite understand how a man so blind can continue to drive a car.
Anyway, I’m adding that to the list of ‘shoulds’ that I need to take care of before The Vacation.
Which reminds me of a related matter. My friend from the UK is also vacationing with us – and then coming back to stay at our house for several days before returning to England. I was telling Mr. Loveton of the many things we should do to have her room nice and to get the house in good order.
He says everything is fine. Everything ‘looks’ good to him. (Note to self: schedule Mr. Loveton’s eye exam for first thing Monday morning. Do not wait!)
He says that our friend is here to ‘see’ us, not judge our housekeeping skills.
My heart – reasoned and working soundly – knows this is so. And I’m thankful that I do indeed know it.
I just need to remember it!
Many of us wear ourselves out with our to-do lists. We get a headache listening to the ‘shoulds’ constantly ringing in our ears. Instead of enjoying the moment, people like me are often spending it worrying about the unimportant stuff. How clean does a house have to be? How organized? Maybe being comfortable is more important than a little snoot juice on the bottom pane of the French Doors? Maybe warmth and love is a little nicer than worrying that the saffron is where the cinnamon should be? And maybe (this is a BIGLY one for me) it isn’t necessary to vacuum just as we’re heading out the door for the airport.
Maybe it’s about relationship and not organization.
I think Christ was trying to explain that to Martha and Mary when he visited their home. Martha was all in a tizzy, trying to cook the meal, clean the house, tidy up and organize everything just so. Meanwhile, her sister, Mary, was in the living room, sitting back and shooting the breeze with Jesus, instead of helping her frazzled sister. Martha finally blew up and said to Jesus, “Hey, why don’t you tell her to get off her butt and come help me in the kitchen?!” (This is the Kate Loveton translation, folks – you won’t find this in your KJV.)
I always sympathized with Martha each time I read this story. It seemed to me that Martha was doing all the work to make everything nice, and Mary was sort of sitting back, chatting and drinking a diet Coke. Or white wine spritzer.
But Jesus doesn’t see it that way. He actually said Mary understood what was important, and that Martha should chill out and maybe smell the roses a bit. (Again this is the Kate Loveton translation.)
No one could ever accuse Jesus of having poor eyesight. He saw things pretty darned clearly. He saw life is about relationship – and that our ‘shoulds’ and ‘to-dos’ must always take a backseat to what is important: love and friendship.
Like granny used to say, “Five minutes after you’re dead, the floor will still need another scrubbing, so let’s just sit ourselves down, have glass of sweet tea and visit for a while.”
Granny never wore glasses either.
Guess I won’t make that eye exam appointment for Mr. Loveton. Maybe his vision isn’t so bad.
Have a nice week, everyone. And when you’re looking around you this week, make sure you see what’s important. Take a little time to chill and enjoy a glass or two of sweet tea with someone you love.
©2017 All Rights Reserved Kate Loveton, Odyssey of a Novice Writer
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