Drudgery! It is an old-fashioned word that we rarely hear today, but a century ago, it was used a great deal to describe housework in general, and often Spring Cleaning. In 1926, a woman from Iowa wrote, “True, we have vacuums, dust
mops, electric washing machines, and washable floor coverings…but there always will remain, to the conscientious housewife at least, a certain amount of dread because somewhere, try as hard as she may, there is bound to be more or less of drudgery in house cleaning.”
I have begun my 2018 Spring Cleaning but instead of getting discouraged with so much ahead of me, I plan to take this woman’s advice:
This spring I have decided to work out my own plan of escape from this drudgery. I am going to take a lesson from Mother Nature herself. I shall don the gayest of percale aprons when I go outside. I am going to “step out”–oh, anytime in the first part of the mornin’, nine o’clock if I feel like it–under the
trees, into the garden, up the hillside; watch the robins arrange their summer cottages; smell the intoxicating scent of apple blossoms; and go to sleep at night listening to the soft pitty-pat-pat of rains against the window panes or the sigh of the wind in the trees, knowing for a certainty that they will accomplish fully their ever new and lovely process of spring rejuvenation and knowing that I too, even though I do a small portion of my work at a time, making room every day for other sights and interests more pleasurable than housework, I too shall find I can have the house just as sweet and clean, my tasks just as amply done if I take each one as it comes. Not crowding–and without worry or thought as to the days that are just beyond my reach. Sun, wind, rain–it is all in the glorious scheme of a spring day–why shut out the better part? Three cheers for Mother Nature’s easy way of House Cleaning!
Once upon a time, when I was a little child, there was to be held a splendid picnic on the last day of school.
The morning dawned bright and cloudless, a refreshing wind was blowing, but the outlook was not bright for me. Something had happened that prevented us from going. I shall never forget the feeling of disappointment that swept over me for that day was just made for picnics.
We children never gave up our hope of going until we saw the other children depart with pails and baskets. I don’t remember how we got through the day, except that we spent it almost entirely out of doors. There you have my secret for bearing disappointments, you grown-up folks as well as children! Get out of doors!
As farmer’s wives, something is always turning up in connection with weather or crops or livestock to interfere with our best-laid plans. It is well to have some alternative just to fill in with in case plans go awry. One day this summer I was all ready to go on a long anticipated excursion, when circumstances arose that prevented my going. The same old feeling of disappointment started to come over me but I put my second “preventive” into action: I tackled the hardest outside job I could find and worked off the unhappy mood. In addition, I read Nancy Byrd Turner’s cheery little verse:
“When things turn upside down And inside out and look dark brown.
I rush outdoors and gaze into
The top-less sky’s eternal blue–
So calm and cool, so still and deep
With soft contented clouds like sheep.
I shade my eyes and stare and stare,
Then go back in the house and there
Begin to wonder and to doubt
What I was in that stew about!”
It helps a bit to realize that mistake-making is universal. Only those who profit by the mistakes they make get to the point where they make few–a goal we all long for. And it helps a lot to know, not that all things are good, but that “all things work together for good–to them that love the Lord.”
We may have a hand in turning our mistakes to good. We may do as a great artist did who noticed after he had painted a picture that he had left some smudges in his beautiful clouds. They couldn’t be erased, so he made birds of the smudges.
If we are unduly cross to the children or to our John, we make birds of those ugly smudges by “fessing up” our wrong-doing and proving our repentance by sweet smiles and loving words. If we wrong a neighbor in word or deed we can find some lovely way to atone. All of which will “work together” for our soul’s good.
As housewives we all tire of the daily grind which sometimes seems so irksome, so futile. I have often been strengthened for a hard task by recalling Columbus’ motto, “Sail on!” You remember the story as told in Joaquin Miller’s poem, “Columbus.” On his first voyage of discovery his crew grew discouraged and mutinous and the mate would come to Columbus with such questions as this:
What shall I say, brave Admiral, say,
If we sight naught but seas at dawn!
Columbus’ invariable brave answer was:
Why, you shall say at break of day,
Sail on! Sail on! Sail on! And on!
There’s not enough singing in this world–of that I’m convinced. I don’t mean singing on the radio, in school or churches. I mean in the family.
Before our family grew up and married we were always singing. On Saturdays one sister and I might be upstairs making beds and dusting, another sister might be in the living room washing floors and Mother might be in the kitchen baking, but we were all singing, and, if working close enough together, we sang “parts” to make harmony.
Sunday was the only day Dad had much time to spend with us. We never left the Sunday table–dinner or supper–without him getting someone to play the piano and the rest of us to sing. Now that I’m married and away from home, I miss those good times. Some of the happiest memories of my dad and mother are of the times when they both joined us and our friends around the piano.
If there were more singing in family life, there would be fewer arguments and more joy. When your feelings are hurt, sing, and you will soon be happier. It is simple but it works.