The Domestic Boomerang
And still, after all this time, the Sun has never said to the Earth,
“You owe me.”
Look what happens with love like that. It lights up the sky.
My Grandma Margaret waited on all the people in her life hand and foot. In her final years, she painstakingly cared for her husband, her brother, and her mother, all fading away in their Iowa home together. She cooked and cleaned and fussed, even though she too was fading, her hip gravely injured from being hit by a car years earlier.
Yep, you heard that right. The woman was hit by a car in her mid-40’s. But she continued to limp on, nurturing and defending the lives in her home like the ultimate domestic soldier
When I was 14, in all my hair-sprayed, know-it-all-glory, I told her I would never wait on anyone like that. My future husband could get off his you-know-what and get his own roast beef and mashed potatoes. Equal rights, I shouted. So old-fashioned, I said with an indignant chortle and a roll of the eyes.
I’ll never forget what she said then, half doting and half tsk-tsk. She softly admonished, “You may change your mind about that one day when you have a family, Emily. When you love someone, it feels good to do things for that person.” I huffed out of the room with much pomp, retreating to the bathroom to re-curl my bangs.
Flash-forward to almost 24 years later, and I’m serving up the roast beef and mashed potatoes, night after night.
Now, I’m not going all June Cleaver on you, but I think Grandma Margaret had a point. After 11 years of marriage, 8 years of parenting, and lots of blood, sweat, and tears, you figure out how to survive and sometimes even thrive in your own little family.
I have a different spin on Grandma’s domestic policy. I’m lucky enough to have a husband who cleans up after himself (mostly), helps out around the house (mostly), and parents like a champ (totally). Our kids, of course, are a different story. We are, without a doubt, their butlers, serving up ice water and snacks like roller-skating Sonic carhops in overdrive.
My domestic spin is less about being a 24/7 maid service and more about the consistent practice of love, affection, and appreciation, even when you’re not feeling it. Especially when you’re not feeling it.
Although it doesn’t appear this way on its face, this practice is actually a bit selfish. Whatever you put out there eventually comes a-rumbling back. If you throw out a nugget of appreciation to your spouse or an affirmation of love to your child, you make them feel good. The energy changes between you, and the goodness rolls right back to you.
It’s the domestic boomerang, the mirror that reflects your light or alternatively, your darkness. It never fails. When I’m feeling crabby and snappy, my family picks up on it immediately and BOOM, they give it right back to me. When I’m upbeat, patient, and loving, that energy is reflected back to me, tenfold.
Of course, there are those moments where you’re not feeling it. You’re tired of being the Sonic carhop in overdrive. Your spouse is getting on your last nerve. If you mash one more potato or make one more sandwich or clean the dishwasher out one more time, you’re going to the Loony Bin. In fact, you dream of the Loony Bin, fantasizing about its solitude and comfy padded walls.
Those are the moments to put your big girl panties on and soldier on. Yes, take a break, take a moment if you need it, and take care of yourself. But, arguably, this is the most critical time to keep spooning out the love, appreciation, and good energy. This is your chance to press “stop” on the negative, blustery energy in your home and flip the switch. Turn the light on.
This is not easy; it is so hard, but it is so impactful. We all know marriage, parenting, and relationships are a long and twisting road. We constantly have to swerve to avoid the potholes and roadkill littering the road. But a little spot of kindness, some words of affirmation or gratitude, a listening ear instead of that smart-ass comment on the tip of your tongue; these choices can have a huge impact on your relationships and family life.
Why choose conflict, frustration, and keeping score when you can choose peace and laughter instead?
I often feel my Grandma Margaret’s spirit around me. She found purpose and meaning in taking care of her family. As I travel the same long and twisting road that she did, I’m doing my best to keep a happy home by serving up some love and gratitude, with a side of roast beef and mashed potatoes.