(I can't get this picture straight, and it's making me slightly dizzy. In any event, it's the scarf I just knit, which is keeping me very warm these icy days.)
A long time ago I taught writing at a nearby college. I loved teaching and I loved my students, but what I didn't love was all the work I had to take home. It was a job that was never done. In that way, it was very much like housework.
Now I make my living as a writer. When I'm working on a book, I feel like I have a job, and I organize my day around my writing. If the bathrooms don't get cleaned, if the attic remains steeped in junk, well, that's how it is when you have a job.
But when I'm not working on a book, my day feels a bit more nebulous. What is required of me? My presence, of course, when the children are home. My cooking skills, most definitely, and my willingness to chauffeur children hither and yon. Because I like things to at least appear orderly, I am employed daily in the fight against chaos: I wash dishes, make beds, fold laundry, pick up, pick up, pick up.
My workday runs from 6:50 a.m. until 9:30 p.m.. But during that time, there are long stretches when I am not occupied in ways that contribute to the running and maintenance of my household. It is my tendency at those times to sit down with a cup of tea and a book or my latest knitting project.
The problem is, I always feel like I should be doing something else. Because there's always something else to be done. Errands to run, attics to organize, clothes and toys to be sorted to take to Good Will, hardwood floors to be mopped, a refrigerator to be cleaned, and on and on.
I suspect this is the plight of every housewife, every stay-at-home worker. When is our work done? Never. Never, ever, ever, ever.
But I'm going to argue (to myself, mostly) that reading and knitting (and quilting and scrapbooking and Sudoku and blog reading and writing) contribute to the happy life of a household. If books enlarge my mind, making me a more lively and interesting member of the collective, and if knitted socks keep your feet warm, aren't we all a little better off at the end of the day?
Yes, we are. So housewives of the world, let's slack off a little today, okay? Let's knit and read to our hearts' content. Let's work on projects we find relaxing and amusing. Let's find quiet time in which to meditate, and maybe watch a little TV. Let's blow stuff off and take a nap. Let's do it for our families. Let's do it for love.