I love empty, unprogrammed weekend days. Sometimes we have adventures and fly through the air. Sometimes we simply hang out at playgrounds. But most often, a wide-open Sunday contains some mix of errands, laundry, walks around the neighborhood, skating, work email, bill-paying, packing of lunches, and cooking for the week ahead.
And you know what I’m realizing, lately? Very often, the days full of these chores, of life’s most prosaic tasks, are my very favorites. Grace and I were walking to the drycleaner and bank last Sunday morning, holding hands as we admired the cloudless blue sky when she sighed and said, “Mummy, I love just hanging out with you.”
“I do too,” I said, squeezing her peace sign patterned fleece glove.
We walked on in amiable silence. Often, on the weekends, we fall into pairs, with Matt and Whit playing hockey or starting a big Lego project and Grace and I being the errand brigade.
“You know, Grace,” I said as we waited for the light. “I think it’s great if you can really enjoy these little things.”
“Why? You mean because if we can think something as regular as a chore is fun, then something big like” she hesitated. “Like … Legoland, well, something big like that is even better?”
I thought about this for a minute as we crossed the street. What did I really mean? I guess it’s that the ability to find authentic joy in the grout I keep writing about seems like a very strong predictor of a life filled with contentment and cheer. When I see my daughter evincing pleasure in such basic, quotidian tasks I feel immense pride and also a flicker of hope that she will have a happy life despite being freighted by having a mother who’s more shadow than sun.
I suspect this is also about my growing conviction that there is a deep holiness in this housekeeping, this elemental life-keeping. It doesn’t seem like an accident that in recent years some of the basic burdens of keeping a family going – packing lunches, folding laundry – have become things I do, often, with reverence. I can’t explain what’s changed, but there’s no question that the most ordinary details of my life seem shot through with meaning, charged with a shimmer of the spirit.
And, finally, just as I exhort my children to simply notice things, I’m grateful for any signs of their sinking into their lives, of their learning to lean into the truth of whatever is, at any moment. Even when it’s boring, even when it means standing in line at the post office or scrubbing dishes. There is divinity in that drudgery. I know there is, and it is a source of grand, enormous pride that my daughter may as well.
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