Everyday Ethics

Everyday Ethics

Enjoying Chores *Is* Possible. Who Knew?


The other night I was driving home with my husband from the
cottage owned by my extended family. It was late, and we had a lot of Sunday stuff still to take care of: laundry,
food to plan for the week ahead, etc. This was in addition to the two hours of tidying, wrapping up, putting
away, battening down and sprucing up we’d just done to leave the country house
in good condition behind us.


In the past, we might have been sullen and pissy; the ratio
of clean-up to relaxation time on Sundays always seems unfairly weighted on the
clean-up side. Maybe it was just the ultra-peaceful weekend we had this time,
but I suddenly looked over at my husband and I said, “I can’t believe I’m about
to say this, but I honestly don’t care how much work that was. I’m just really
glad we were able to take care of the house so nicely for the next guests.”

Even a few years ago this would have been like Swahili
coming out of my mouth. As a teen (and, I will shamefacedly admit, well into my
twenties), I hated the bother of being conscientious. Responsibility was – what
else? – a chore; one I took on as a necessity but never a point of pride. As a guest, I cleaned up after myself
so I wouldn’t get yelled at or asked not to come back, but only reluctantly.
Inwardly, I was always gribbly or


I don’t know what changed – a factor of adulthood, perhaps,
but I just suddenly enjoyed feeling I
could be counted on to be a good guest, a reliable child, a responsible adult.
The pride I felt at knowing I was making things nice for others was plenty
sufficient to outweigh any momentary annoyance at spending so much of my Sunday
swabbing the decks. I’d worked with a good will and a good intention, and that
attitude made all the difference.


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posted August 24, 2009 at 1:09 pm

Getting chores done is a feeling of accomplishment.
Okay, so I grew up as Cinderella(Where is Prince Charming already?) I was always cleaning. I think that is an Italian addiction from my Dad’s mom.
I like getting the ironing, the shopping, washing the floors, laundry out of the way. Then I can relax.

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posted August 24, 2009 at 1:14 pm

I couldn’t agree with you more. The first time I felt that way was after my mum had been away for 4 months a few years ago. I had been keeping things tidy in her absence, which felt good in and of itself, but before she returned I did this wonderful thorough cleaning. I washed every linen and dusted every chotchkie. I stocked the house with fresh milk, tea, biscuits and other nibblies, and loads of fresh cut flowers. I didn’t mind doing it one bit–for the first time–because it made me feel like a good daughter, a reliable daughter, and a proper thoughtful adult–someone who thought about more than her own needs and wants. That’s not to say that my mum doesn’t annoy me in other ways, LOL, but this felt so good. I was rewarded when she returned by the genuine pride and joy she expressed.

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