Sunday, April 8, 2012
Rightness in the Mundane
I don't know if he always did it, but for as long as I can remember, my dad wore the same "uniform" to work almost every day. Jeans and a button-up shirt with a white t-shirt underneath. This meant that my mom seemed to be folding white undershirts every single time she did laundry. I can clearly remember helping her fold while we sat on the floor of the family room watching something like The Cosby Show or Family Ties. She never complained that my dad wasn't there folding his own t-shirts, she just took care of what needed to get done and then moved on to the next thing.
I thought of my mom this past week when I found myself creating a stack of Mr. W's undershirts. It was the middle of the day; he was at work; I could hear Barefoot Contessa making something for Jeffrey in the other room. I felt like a strangely merry housewife.
I didn't feel resentful that I was helping with his laundry—something that's become a pretty regular task since he's been working such long hours. I felt almost appreciative. Don't barf, I know it sounds strange and a bit like something a Stepford Wife would say.
But in that moment, I recognized what might be a similarity between our relationship and my parents': a mutual desire to take care of each other and help the other one out, without expectation. That's how it worked in my house growing up. I don't ever remember my mom nagging my dad to do things or getting mad when she had to do things for him. And the same went for him. They had established a beautifully choreographed dance where they gave and received in unspoken harmony, paying back and paying forward year after year after year. They celebrated their 48th wedding anniversary in February, by the way.
The gratitude I felt while folding that stack of Hanes came from knowing Mr. W and I might hit a marker like that one day if we keep up the dance like my parents have done. And it came just from knowing that if those were my shirts in the dryer, he'd fold them for me, too. He's done it many times.
He wrapped his movie last Thursday, so (for awhile at least) he'll be home with me during the day now. I will still fold his shirts if he needs me to. And although I've given him a few honey-do's to tackle during his hiatus, I know he'd probably take care of stuff all on his own.
We might learn some new give-and-take dance steps being here together every single day. Hopefully we'll both be able to continue finding gratefulness as we go about our little lives.