Thursday, August 28, 2014

Throwback Thursday: The Return of Family Chores

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Return of Family Chores

Up until a couple of years ago, when I began hiring other people to roll my newspapers, everyone in my household rose at midnight, ate breakfast, packed a lunch, and then departed to the distribution center.

When you have six kids, it's a simple, although highly organized process, to get fifteen hundred newspapers out the door seven days (nights?) a week. So even as my children grew up, moved away, married, etc., younger ones readily filled the gaps, that is, until Timothy began college, and the work crew began to thin out.

For a long time, midnight at my house resembled the early morning rush at others. Dishes clattered; the vacuum hummed; I was shouting to make sure everyone had been through the bathroom so I could clean it; lunch coolers and coffee thermoses were packed; and litter boxes were scooped. If it was winter, the van was warming up.

Not only did we have to get out the door when the rest of the world had comforters pulled up tp their noses, we had to complete all household chores first, since writing deadlines and homeschool assignments would be awaiting our return. Besides, few things are more demoralizing than braving the elements to throw hundreds of newspapers only to arrive home to a dirty, messy house.

As schedules shifted, I became the only one still tumbling out of bed at midnight. Even though Ron now brought my bagged papers home, I kept the routine, just in case someone called off, and I'd have to come in.

Besides, with the world asleep, the witching hour was the perfect writing time, since I wasn't fielding phone calls and emails (although my publicist and I had some incredibly productive three-thirty a.m. phone chats). I did the chores alone, reveling in the blissful quiet and the jotting down of mental notes for whatever story was on the monitor at the time.

Lately though, that routine has once again begun to shift. The last paper cut (Get it? Paper cut? Knee slap and chuckle) forever altered our paper carrier ways. We no longer could afford to put two large vans on the road, and the few newspapers Ron still delivers hardly feels worth his effort, not compared to the money it takes to run them. Still, even Ron is rarely up at midnight, although I still enjoy many hours of silent darkness before the rest of the world greets the new day.

Between working as a banquet cook and negotiating a full schedule as a culinary arts student, Timothy is coming home later and later, and Rebekah will get a taste of this schedule for the Spring 2012 semester when she embarks upon a four-hour cookie class. The candlelight breakfasts and noon hour Bible studies over farm-style dinners have morphed into Bible study over lighter candelight dinners, with chores following.

Now I would rather do housework at the top of my day, even if it is two a.m., than at the end of it, when I'm uncaffeinated and dragging, yet the advantages of tackling it at this hour exceed my natural inclination to ignore the clutter and proceed to shower and bed, and this is why.

It gives us an opportunity, as new ones outside our home increasingly beckon, to move together as a unit for a common purpose, and to delight in each other's company and the conversation that naturally ensues when hands and feet are occupied. Yes, we have our fair share (and then some) of grumbling and arguing (which can be accompanied by loud and strong language), for our days our long, and we are weary.

But there's something invigorating with moving about each other's orbit for an hour or so, before we again pull back into our individual rooms for the night. We're able to greet the new day with the house in order, no undone work staring you in the face, and knowing it was the combined efforts of the people that dwell together under one roof that accomplished it.

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