When I was a staff person in Katimavik (katimavik.org) I always used to let my name go onto the schedule for dish duty. My supervisor and colleagues encouraged me to let go of this task to allow participants to take on that responsibility.
I never did. I clung tenaciously to the task.
I wish I could tell you it was about doing my fair share since I too ate the meals that were prepared for us; however, my motivations were not quite so admirable. My motivation was more about me than about any high standards for being a contributing member of the community.
Katimavik was up to that point in my life, the hardest thing that I had ever done. I was living in a house with 11 young adults from all walks of life and I was responsible for ensuring their safety as well as the implementation of the program. It was difficult and it was messy as living in community always is.
So I liked doing dishes because it felt as if it was the only thing that I did that was cut and dry. When I washed, a dish was either clean or dirty, there was no in between. The rules were clear and I knew that my job was over when that last dish was put away.
Every other aspect of the job was murky and grey as I was continually faced with making decisions that affected so many others.
This week, I found myself feeling exactly the same way while shoveling away the foot and a half of snow that had fallen overnight. It struck me then and there that a sense of accomplishment over the task at hand was why I liked shoveling snow so much (shhhh, don’t tell my husband).
Now, as then, I find that being a parent is the most difficult thing that I’ve ever done. I make hundreds of decisions every day and very few of them are obvious choices as to the best way to be in a relationship with these children who definitely know their own minds. I question myself constantly wondering if I’m being unkind or if the ‘no’ I’m speaking is in my child’s best interest.
I don’t know the answer to many of these questions that press me as I go about my day. I don’t know if I’m making the best choice, reacting or making the easiest choice. I just don’t know.
Parenting is messy! Snow shoveling is so much easier knowing whether I’ve done the job well.
So next time you drive by and see me in the driveway, shoveling snow, know that it is giving me a sense of order and accomplishment in the midst of a day filled with decisions that are grey and murky.