This morning as I doted on my 3 month old baby – combing out her cradle cap, changing nappies, changing clothes and then cleaning up after my clean-up – I was trying to view what I was doing from a positive perspective. I long so often for more domestic help, as friends enjoy in South Africa, so I can do more of what I love with my days and less of the cleaning and certain stuff that I am simply not that great at. But then I was struck with a sweet thought: what if what I’m doing is an opportunity? An opportunity to love more. Not to say that I love my children more than South African friends, for example, but that perhaps that by getting my hands dirty, I am given the blessing of being able to grow beyond myself, develop patience I (really) never knew I had and to therefore love to my max?
I’m struck with an image of all the many selfless beautiful maids in South Africa and around the world who give of themselves so gracefully and endlessly, and I imagine how big and strong their love for their employers can sometimes be. I felt it from dear Peggy, our Zimbabwean cleaner, who came one day a week when we lived in SA to totally re-sterilize and re-order our lives. And I think how we (her and I) shed tears when I told her we were going to live in Israel. And how she still worries and cares about us. How she buys gifts for us when we visit with money she does not have. She took so much pride in her work and went to great lengths to make us happy and perhaps that’s what amped up her love. She inspires me so much.
Which takes me to a parallel point. Last week I wasn’t explicit with my sushi cone (hand-roll) order and after the young Israeli guy made it up for me, I asked him if he could please remove an ingredient I did not like. But he refused for it would look like sh@t (in his words) and insisted on making a new one. And so I thanked him genuinely and was moved by how he took his job seriously.
Which brings me back to being a mom. And how I sometimes feel like a bit of a maid. How I’m dragged down by the endless monotony of so many of the associated tasks. And with my thoughts above in mind, I’m a little more motivated to bring more of myself to the role, more of my soul. To be proud and take my job seriously.
I read advice last week in Chana Weisberg’s book “One Baby Step at a Time” the advice to “grow where you are planted” and to treat this role of mothering as if I love it. Perhaps if I truly did this more often I would not so often exhaustedly count the hours till bedtime, but would relish the opportunity to be authentic and creative together with my sweet girls and to guide and love them in the time we have together.
Back to my original thought, the whole “more hard work means more opportunity to love more” thing. Though there is truth to it, I believe in the “more” more than the “more hard work”. And in this case of moms, more help – crucial to halting the development of resentment and drowning in one-sock jumbled up laundry loads and dirty nappies. For there’s also balance and sanity and the need for nurturing. I know my needs for those are great. And though I judge myself a little, when I step back and advise little me from afar, I know that it’s ok, it’s perfect, that my needs must be honoured where and when I can.
But simultaneously I aim to try embrace and even possibly enjoy the chores in front of me, and to use them to bring me closer to the ones around me. And to myself. And to let the love, like the laundry pile, grow.