Larking About

I once received a frantic phone call from my sister, worrying that something was terribly wrong. She had stopped in at our parents’ home and my mother wasn’t there. That would have been unremarkable, however what worried her was that the sink was full of dishes! Only a crisis, she was sure, would have led my mother to go out leaving a dirty kitchen.  A short while later the mystery was resolved when it turned out that a neighbor had urged my mother to join her on a last minute outing and, uncharacteristically, my mother impulsively agreed.

My children would not be surprised in the least to find dirty dishes in my sink. I am a morning person, sometimes known as a lark. I usually wake up ready to go, do my best thinking in the a.m. and fade as the day moves on. Even in high school, rather than staying up late studying, my preference was to go to sleep at ten and get up at four if I needed to put in an extra few hours before a test.

This means that although I do feel somewhat guilty, I tend to leave supper dishes in the sink overnight, preferring to tackle them in the morning. A good night’s sleep transforms a monotonous chore into a pleasant time for quiet introspection.

My morning bias also means that if I don’t plan for supper in the morning, chances for a delicious and nutritious meal are minimal.  Although I am far from fastidious about housekeeping, I like having clean clothes and a tidy house, and these jobs too, tend to be neglected if not done early in the day.

I also enjoy my work: writing, editing, brainstorming new teachings, and being in touch with our virtual community. There are administrative tasks that are fulfilling as well. Nonetheless, I have not figured out how to give the best of myself to both home and work.

We sometimes self-righteously boast that there is more freedom of activity and thought today than there used to be. For example, we scorn times when women were excluded from certain jobs based on their gender. However, our times have limitations as well. When companies are forced by government to allocate resources to a day care center or threatened with lawsuits if their workforce skews male, the result is that women who don’t want to work outside the home end up doing so. Among other things, they are frequently more employable than their husbands are, or the price of goods or services goes up so that a second income becomes a necessity, not a luxury. When society sneers at homemaking as a talent, young women don’t explore if they might actually enjoy devoting time to that endeavor.

The number of hours in a day hasn’t changed, nor has the reality that most of us cycle through periods of greater and lesser energy. I’m writing this in the evening, with my dishes soaking, full of gratitude for a family that appreciates the effort that goes into making a home and that has a laid back attitude as to when that actually gets done.

It has been fun to see so many of you purchasing the book we just published. I’d love to hear your impressions after reading Hands Off! This May Be Love: God’s Gift for Establishing Enduring Relationships by Gila Manolson. Do leave a comment below or write to me at

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2 thoughts on “Larking About”

  1. James, I do appreciate how you faithfully comment. Even though I see the numbers reading (and it’s very gratifying)it gives me a boost when people chime in. Thanks.

  2. Here I come, later than usual, but hopefully with something to say… Like the Rabbi says, the brain takes over and helps us to automate routine activities we take for granted. But those routines that we take for granted can get the upper hand and control us if we allow them.
    Why would I say this? If confined to the home by circumstances, the responsibility of the workload becomes deafening and numbing. From my male perspective, I can see why some housewives begin to feel ‘robotized’ under the pressure of constant housework. I myself need to learn to maximize awareness, lest routines (however important) seize us and block us from activities that are most ennobling and fulfilling. For they certainly will!
    Thanks to the both of you for your contributions to Ancient Jewish Wisdom.

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