I’ve heard there is such a thing. She is the one who has a sparkling kitchen, no grease spots on the splashbacks, no errant crumbs in the bottom of the oven, and she always remembers to wear an apron so that her clothes are similarly spotless.
She irons her husband’s shirts and he prefers the way she does it. She plans ahead and doesn’t run out of milk or bread or butter or the only type of cheese that works in a quiche recipe.
Even the plants in her garden obey her.
Sadly, that woman doesn’t seem to live around here.
Nevertheless, I’ve given it a red hot go, insofar as I can without driving myself nuts, polishing the cats, dusting my husband, and tidying my daughter into a corner. The washing up is waiting but the clean clothes have been put away. Even DH has been tidying his wardrobe.
Things have been difficult over the past 6 weeks. One of my dearest and loveliest relatives died only a week after a devastating diagnosis. Just when I thought my heart was slowly repairing, there was another unexpected death, and this time it was a lovely friend who was only one year older than me. One such death, I could deal with. Two seems more than my heart can bear at this point. Small surprise that tears have poured down my cheeks, my thoughts have spun round in circles of “what if” and “why” and “not fair”.
This evening, to soothe my hot, jangled nerves and calm my hands, I found myself calling on the rituals of women in my past. No strange teas or chants, but rather the thrifty habits that run deep in my family. Taking an old flannelette nightgown that had finally worn out at the elbows and shoulders, I methodically tore it down the side seams, unpicked the yoke, cut off the buttons for my button tin, and square by square, measuring by sight, I created a new year’s worth of soft cleaning cloths. Nothing grand here. Last year’s dusters were from an old calico sheet that I or my brothers had slept in as children, long since worn thin in the middle but too sturdy at the edges to let go into the bin.
As I tore and turned the soft fabric, my thoughts wandered. Back to my maternal grandmother who had taught this to my mother. My grandmother had grown up during the Depression and knew how to make things last, how to be thrifty and sensible, and how to have fun with a small amount of money. I smiled as I thought of how my acquaintances think that I am being “green” or “recycling” or “eco-friendly” with my funny old habits. No, dear friends, I am simultaneously saving money while connecting with my past, warming myself with memories and taking my place as another grown woman in a long line.