How was your day?

I am a part time library worker and full time mother of two. The days I don’t help customers get the books they absolutely want to read or the resource they absolutely need for their research, I do loads and loads of laundry, cook meals from scratch, organize music teacher, make doctor’s and dentist appointments, freeze in baseball games or practices, sweat in hot and humid indoor pools, arrange work schedules so I can listen to my child’s music concerts. The days I don’t work, my life is not interesting except for a few stolen moments in the afternoon, right before the children come home, when I crack open a book and get transported to another universe.

Yesterday was my day off. After all the commitments of Thursday we were finally home for the night. I had enlisted the help of my 16 year old daughter to make egg rolls for dinner. It is an assembly line production that she and I have perfected. She cracks the eggs, I heat the rotis. When the rotis are done I pour the eggs on them and cook till eggs settle. I flip the egg roti on a plate, she assembles onions, ketchup, lime juice, pepper and rolls it up. We chat as we work.

“How was your day, Mama?” She asked me, as she wiped tears from cutting onions.

“It was OK. Nothing to write home about!” I replied, waiting for the day to end.

“What did you do?” She persisted.

I really did not want to talk. Perhaps I was tired, perhaps I was wallowing in self-pity of how meaningless my day was. I started with, “Well, I did 3 loads of laundry, made appointments at the dentist’s office, then I spent some time talking to the insurance for the car, went to the library, errands….nothing interesting. I did nothing that I can talk about.”

She perhaps caught the slight catch in my throat. She said, “Well, we did not do any groundbreaking discoveries either. It was just a regular day and we did regular things.”

“Yes, but you learned something new. You got to hang out with friends.”

On retrospect, it sounded petulant – comparing my life with her’s.

She stayed silent for a moment and said, “You work hard mom. You work hard every day.”

We moved on then. I did not pay attention to her words or her sentiment that she understood my mood and acknowledged my need to be comforted at that moment. We had dinner, cleaned up, finished homework, set the alarm for next day and went to bed.

Today as I worked around the house, I thought back upon the snippet of conversation with my daughter last night. She wanted to know how my day was and despite the mundaneness of my domestic chores she gave me my due. How often do we overlook these simple gestures that carry so much meaning? Also my work of providing clean clothes, taking care of scheduling needs, assisting with homework, cleaning our living area and providing healthy nourishment actually contribute hugely to the health and happiness of all of us. They are all important little pieces that make up the big whole. It is so easy to forget the importance of the little pieces of the puzzle due to the monotony of the chore yet the satisfaction when they fit into the fabric of our daily life is priceless. And when a loved one says, “I see you. I see all you do for us” that is a lovely language of appreciation.


One thought on “How was your day?

  1. Your daughter is … a girl. She understood. I find that most men still don’t understand how much ‘work’. real work, running a home and raising a family entails. And whilst the washing of clothes and making of dinner etc go ‘noticed’, I would say that half of the work is ‘invisible’ and can get taken for granted. I once read an article in The New Yorker (?), in the 1990s … something about how much the real cost of a home maker amounts to per year, I think it came to some jaw dropping amount of 400,000 dollars. A private cook, a nurse, a driver, a homework coach, a house cleaner, a laundry person (washing, drying and ironing), a private secretary, a hostess (dinner parties etc), a personality coach, a sexual partner …. !


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