“But I’m so tired!” One of the children said this when reminded (again) to take out the trash. By this time, it was eight o’clock at night and time to start the winding-down process for going to bed.
The trash needed taking out in the morning, before she went to school. It needed to be taken out when she got home from school, when she desired her “down time” before attempting anything as strenuous or negative as, gasp, taking the garbage out. Still later, after homework was done and dinner was about to be served, the garbage needed to be taken out.
It was her job. It could be accomplished in — oh, about two minutes, tops. But it was something she just did not want to do. As the day went on, and the reminders came, apparently that job seemed to become bigger and less attractive, and more demanding of the time she was not willing to give.
“For pete’s sake,” we said, “it’s just the garbage. You can complete the task in less time than it takes to whine about it. Just go do it, and it will be done.”
With shoulders hanging low and a bottom lip pouting, the garbage was finally taken out and a new bag replaced in the kitchen trash can. Phew! What a big deal!
This kind of thing represents one of my petty concerns. It gets under my skin when one of the family members, or co-workers, continually puts off some simple task. You know — those bothersome, petty tasks that are needful, but unattractive. “What’s the big deal?” I ask myself. “Why can’t they just quite whining about it, and do it?”
From time to time I find myself staring in the mirror, and I see the “little things” that I have neglected to get done. The things that are simple, but bothersome or unappealing, that I do not want to do. By putting them off, they continue to irritate me while they remain on my to-do list, taking up emotional space.
I hear a tiny voice somewhere inside my head whining about being too tired, as I imagine family members or friends scoffing, “Why doesn’t she just do it? Then it will be done!”
The writer Robert Louis Stevenson once said, “Each day returns and brings us the petty round of irritating concerns and duties. Give us to go … on our business all this day, bring us to our resting beds weary and content and undishonored, and grant us in the end the gift of sleep.”
There are the usual rounds of daily chores for each of us. Around my house, the dishes and laundry, among others, are regular and daily duties. Some jobs are more enjoyable than others.
Each morning the bed needs to be made, simply so I can turn the covers down at night. But I enjoy getting that bed made in the morning. One day a few weeks ago when my married daughter came by, and saw the bed unmade, she gasped. “Mom, are you okay? In all my years, I have never seen your bed unmade more than three times. Are you sick?”
I smiled. Grateful, I guess, that I have at least been diligent in showing that this task is one that I have seldom been tired enough to leave undone. It reminded me that this is a job I do in the morning, before the demands of the day tire me so. Finally, it pleased me to know that my children have come to feel that this simple, mundane task is one that their mother believes in doing — regardless.
It caused me to reflect on what other things they have noticed about my work ethic — good or bad — and what my example has taught.
What is the point of this rambling? To remind myself, and maybe a few of you who may be staring at a job that needs doing, that we are here to work and I believe that there is no escape from it. I think that we cannot get into our brain that desire too soon. “Work we must if we shall succeed or if we shall advance. There is no other way.” (President J. Reuben Clark, Jr.)
I have a long list of things that need doing today. So I am going to finish off this article and work at getting them done — before the evening comes, and I am feeling so tired!