When I was growing up, the question was always: What do you want to be when you grow up? My answers ranged from an actress, a teacher, a doctor, a nurse. I’m really enjoying what I’m doing now. I finally got my nurse practitioner job, and I get to talk to women about their life and their health. I get to give them advise when the ask for it and answer their questions when asked. I had a feeling of fulfillment coupled with sadness yesterday, with one patient in particular on my mind. It was a good sad. Do I dare say that I felt satisfied?
After leaving work, I decided to take advantage of being across the bridge where there is civilization and Trader Joe’s. We needed some groceries, and I wanted to start my work-clothes shopping spree. I took a moment to notice the other shoppers. Most of them were women. Many of them had scrubs on actually. Most of them looked like they had had a long day of work. Some of them had a baby or several small children following them around. They looked tired. Maybe they had even felt satisfied after their day of work, but they had more work ahead of them after getting off at 5:00 or whenever.
My thoughts started wandering. When I was growing up, dreaming about what I wanted to be, no one ever told me about this. That I was going to have to go to the grocery store at least once a week, and that I would almost fall asleep at the cash register. Clean out my refrigerator, wash my bathroom, pay for a dog’s ACl surgery. No one ever told me that doing laundry and cleaning the kitchen are never-ever-ending tasks. I’m not trying to be negative here, I am just realizing why I have a hard time with these kinds of life-tasks. They caught me by surprise. I’m finally what I want to be when I grow up, but I still have chores. And I have a hard time with all of it. When I’m not working, I want to sit and read or write or go outside. I want to rest. But more work has to be done after work.
Right now, the work is just taking care of Gregg, me, and two dogs. Somebody warn me what I’m in for when there are more people in a house to take care of.
I know that there’s a different perspective that I could take on these life-chores. The famous monk, Brother Lawrence, said he felt as connected to God washing dishes as he did taking communion. I think he’s onto something. There’s virtue and value and growth that happens in these life tasks. Its stretching to love people in action even where you’re dead tired. Gregg refers to washing dishes as building character. I think he’s onto something, too. But I wasn’t warned. About the value of these things or that they even existed at all. I just thought my dreams would get fulfilled and that would be that. I didn’t know how much work would still be ahead of me afterwards.