I feel like my life is about tending. I tend to household matters like laundry, cooking, and toilet scrubbing so that everyone's lives run more smoothly. This is important work that has been shunned by some, and yet, it's completely necessary. If I do not do it, we have to pay someone else to cook or clean for us, or we have to live in squalor. When we pay someone else to do these menial tasks, we cannot reasonably expect them to bring the same life or soul energy to it. They have their own menial tasks waiting for them after they finish ours, and we tend to pay people very little for this greasing of the wheels, so how could we possibly expect them to devote much love to the tasks.
I tend to the children. These tasks are truly endless and often overwhelming. It's up to me to help them establish the habits that will smooth a few of life's wrinkles while very carefully leaving as many as possible for them to smooth themselves. I decided I would insist on teeth brushing to prevent cavities, because you cannot explain really the long term implications of not brushing your teeth to a 3, 4, or even 9 year old. Ditto bathing, table manners, and appropriate time and place for poop talk. I am responsible at this point for how they go out into the world. While I do not care if their hair is brushed when they're playing in the yard, I do think it should be neat before we run to the grocery. It's also my job to teach them the social mores of nose picking and crotch scratching. The list goes on and on.
I hope to tend a garden and some chickens and a beef cow and the bees. I cannot yet fathom all that that will require.
Somewhere in all that tending, I have to tend myself and my marriage or none of that other stuff is possible. The tricky part is that it's these last two things it's easiest to skimp on. My bath never seems as important as a bath for one of the children or Jason. A child needing a cuddle and story can seem more important that Jason's description of his day. The children's sense of comfort can outweigh our desire to have a date.
I do not get the balance right very often. The pendulum swings wildly most of the time, and something gets missed or mistreated. But, when I find that center, where we all feel pretty well heard, well fed, and loved, I know all my missteps are not too far from the path I've chosen.