Friday, November 29, 2013
Attention is love.
My husband pushed his bowl away and had a... well... a terrible look on his face. I asked if something was wrong. He said something about how he just couldn't stand this dish... he "had never liked it and just didn't want to eat it." While he was making something else in the kitchen, I ate my portion and then went straight to the bedroom to jump in the shower.
I had myself a good cry.
Sometimes being a caretaker, a housewife, a mother... is rough. I know my husband doesn't have to like everything I fix for dinner. He's allowed to have his own opinions. But I think his comments were the last straw on the camel's back. There are so many nights of the week that I try to fix a nice, homemade meal only to have my children complain and turn their heads in disgust at the mere sight of their plate. Add to this the challenge of finding new ways to cook because we've recently switched to a gluten-free diet (my oldest appears to have a sensitivity), and, well, mealtimes have been difficult.
The story running through my head while I was crying in the shower was that I'm exhausted. I love my family and I love taking care of them, but being a stay-at-home parent doesn't get much praise. My children are still too young to understand how much their parents do for them (and honestly, I don't think many kids realize it until they become parents themselves!), and everything I do is just expected. From getting breakfast in the morning, cleaning up after meals, doing their laundry, taking them to activities, homeschooling them... they get frustrated if I haven't done something "on time" or in the "normal way." (And before you judge, yes, I have chores for the girls to do and am slowly trying to teach them how to do some of these things for themselves.)
And I won't lie. I often get frustrated with the seemingly typical gender role I've found myself in. My husband goes to work and then comes home. While he is putting his feet up in the recliner, I can't help but find myself feeling resentful as I'm doing the dishes or sorting laundry. What's that saying? "A mother's work is never done"? Now I know what that means.
It's no good when I start listening to that story - the story about how I do everything for everyone and no one pays attention. I become a victim in my own household.
Thankfully, I remembered the note written in a book I've been reading, titled, "Hand Wash Cold" by Karen Maezen Miller. A good friend of mine got a signed copy for me, and on the front page, the author had written, "Kimberly, attention is love."
Attention is love.
What do I give my attention to during the day? The dishes, the laundry, the cleaning, the lesson-planning, the cooking... Do I love doing those things? No, not all the time. But I'm giving those things attention because of love. I want my family to have clean dishes to eat on, clean clothes to wear, new things to learn, and healthy meals to eat.
My husband shows his love by going to work every day, and spending time with us when he has days off. My children show their love ALL the time - with hugs, kisses, cuddles, and random "I love you's." I show my love through our home. Through attention to all of those - mostly messy - details.
So, I had my little cry. I got those feelings - the resentment, the exhaustion, the frustration - out (which I firmly believe is necessary to do sometimes). And then I remembered that my attention is love. That's why I do what I do everyday.
“Your life is your practice. Your spiritual practice does not occur someplace other than in your life right now, and your life is nowhere other than where you are. You are looking for answers, insight, and wisdom that you already possess. Live the life in front of you, be the life you are, and see what you find out for yourself.” ― Karen Maezen Miller, Momma Zen: Walking the Crooked Path of Motherhood