Saturday, November 10, 2007

First week in the hospital

My first week in the hospital went smoothly enough – with the exception of one patient yelling at us that the food is so bad he wouldn't even feed it to his cats (it is rather bland, but what can we do?); better than I expected, anyway, even though there's of course a remarkable difference between academic learning, and actually giving counsel to a patient. Also, we spent most of the week in nephrology unit, where our advice can be crucial – there have been cases when patients with malfunctioning kidneys died because of electrolyte imbalance after eating too much of something they weren't supposed to touch. It's heavy responsibility of course, but learning from apprenticeship, rather than books, gives much more confidence. Overall I'm having a good time, and our team is great.

However, I think my mother started to notice an almost immediate downfall of our home comforts and household efficiency, now that I don't have time to do much of the work I normally do when I'm home all day or almost all day. Are the windows clean? No, cleaning schedule must be moved to accommodate my new responsibilities. Can I start sewing new curtains for grandma's room? Ha, I haven't touched the sewing machine for days. Any baked goodies to have with our tea? Sorry, only store-bought cookies. I know they aren't nearly as good as home-baked, but I don't have time right now. Even our grocery bill was higher than usual this week, because I didn't have as much time to look for the best deals and make everything from scratch.

Am I complaining? On the contrary, I think it's a very valuable lesson, an illustration of something I have been saying for a while now – there are only 24 hours in a day. I can hardly be expected to do a new studying program and take as many translation projects as I usually do (not that I can afford to stop and lose clients right now), while still doing everything that can easily keep me busy for a whole day here at home. Oh, I do the basic housekeeping, and it doesn't look as though we're going to be out of clean underwear anytime soon, but I certainly cannot do it all. Not because I'm lazy or unorganized, but simply because it's an unreasonable expectation.

To sum it up, my work is missed. And I'm happy about it. I think that when a household is running smoothly, it's so easy to take things for granted and forget about how much work it actually takes. It's very rare to hear someone say, "Your refrigerator is so neat and organized," or "how lovely it is that we have clean and ironed clothes to wear". But when there's no time for cleaning the refrigerator, ironing or serving a nice, homemade dinner, this void is noticed.

I would like to share with you a story I received by email a couple of days ago:

A woman's work

A man came home from work and found his three children outside, still in their pajamas, playing in the mud, with empty food boxes and wrappers strewn all around the front yard.

The door of his wife's car was open, as was the front door to the house and there was no sign of the dog. Proceeding into the entry, he found an even bigger mess. A lamp had been knocked over, and the throw rug was wadded against one wall. In the front room the TV was loudly blaring a cartoon channel, and the family room was strewn with toys and various items of clothing.

In the kitchen, dishes filled the sink, breakfast food was spilled on the counter, the fridge door was open wide, dog food was spilled on thefloor, a broken glass lay under the table, and a small pile of sand was spread by the back door. He quickly headed up the stairs, stepping over toys and more piles of clothes, looking for his wife. He was worried she might be ill, or that something serious had happened.

He was met with a small trickle of water as it made its way out the bathroom door. As he peered inside he found wet towels, scummy soap and more toys strewn over the floor. Miles of toilet paper lay in a heap and toothpaste had been smeared over the mirror and walls.

As he rushed to the bedroom, he found his wife still curled up in the bed in her pajamas, reading a novel. She looked up at him, smiled, and asked how his day went. He looked at her bewildered and asked, "What happened here today?" She again smiled and answered, "You know every day when you come home from work and you ask me what in the world I do all day?"

"Yes," was his incredulous reply.

She answered, "Well, today I didn't do it."

32 comments:

Sammybunny said...

wow. that story is really powerful. it rings all too true that people take for granted how much work it takes to keep a house clean and running smoothly!

Mrs.B said...

I think that when a household is running smoothly, it's so easy to take things for granted and forget about how much work it actually takes. It's very rare to hear someone say, "Your refrigerator is so neat and organized," or "how lovely it is that we have clean and ironed clothes to wear". But when there's no time for cleaning the refrigerator, ironing or serving a nice, homemade dinner, this void is noticed.

Good point! And I LOVED the story at the end. (o:

Mrs.B said...

Anna,

Would you mind if I shared 'A Woman's Work' on my blog? (o:

Blessings,
~Mrs.B

Mimi said...

you are absolutely right Anna,
your work in the home is never noticed until you don't do it... good lesson...
and I am sure your mom and grandmother appreciate all that you did before your became so busy...
good luck with your nutrition studies...

Anna S said...

Mrs. B, you are most welcome to share this story on your blog!

Kelly said...

Oh Anna, great post. I've read that story you posted before but I still love reading it.
Just a week ago my husband got home from work a bit early and I hadn't done just my basic tidying up, that I try to do before he arrives home. He came in and asked, "What's wrong?" I said, "What do you mean?" He said, "Why does the house look like this?" I said, "Well it always looks like this before i tidy up."
I don't think he realized that something as simple as a quick pick up around the house makes such a difference.
Being a homemaker is the one job and is the easiest for family to take for granted.

Terry said...

As for your studies at the hospital, it sounds fascinating. I never really thought about how crucial a person's diet becomes when their body is battling an illness or reduced capacity. As for your housework, it must be satisfying to finally have the value of your work appreciated. It is sometimes hard for us to miss the things we take for granted until they aren't there anymore.

Kristy Howard said...

I absolutely loved this post, Anna! Case & point! I honestly don't know how women who work outside the home maintain their homes and family (not to mention their sanity!).

~Kristy~

USAincognito said...

Your work at the hospital sounds intriguing. Would love to hear more about it.

Jen said...

Thank you for this, it's so true. I know I have always had trouble avoiding the whole "guilt complex" when I am busy with school and cannot accomplish as much at home. I think your view is a perfect balance - fully aware of the importance of housekeeping, yet understanding limitations. :)

Mrs.B said...

Thank you Anna, you're a dear! (o:

Blessings,
~Mrs.B

Rebekah S. said...

Wow! What a lesson that man learned! lol Just goes to show you that what the feminists see as homemakers-mindless, lazy, idle, thing hungry parasites, is just nothing short of laughable!!!!

Rebekah S. said...

Same here, Kristy!!

MamanAuren said...

This was so refreshing to read... I'm the single, working mother to two children, and I'm also attending college classes full-time; I live in an apartment complex filled with two-parent homes with at least one other parent always at home. I very frequently hear about how messy my apartment is from my neighbors and family... but the truth is I just don't have the time they have! And yes my grocery bill is pretty high, and we eat a lot of packaged junk, but it's very true that there are only so many hours in a day~! Thank you for posting that story. I have passed it along to the other mothers I know. :-)

Mary said...

This was a really great story! I found your site through your link in my daughter's comment box. Really good job on your blog. Mind if I visit often?

Bethany Sue, CFO said...

That story is so funny I had to foward it! Thanks Anna! Good luck in the hospital! I remember my days in the trenches in nursing school. I am praying for you!

Jeannine said...

Glad you enjoy your work at the hospital!
Next week I have my final oral exam and a job interview, but I'm really looking forward to having more time for house cleaning, cooking and baking etc afterwards :).

Anna S said...

Mary, welcome, and *do* come back often :)

Love Sows Seeds said...

Great post, provokes much thought.

Love the little story at the end! :-)

Anonymous said...

"You never miss the water 'til the well runs dry". Great story!

Brenda

Jill said...

Anna, that is such a great story, loved it. I am glad your family can now see what you are trying to achieve, don't overdo it and wear yourself out !!! Your job sounds like it carries a HUGE amount of responsibility. Take care.

Anonymous said...

Anna, last year on the Friday before before Christmas, I was admitted to hospital as an emergency with inflammation of the gall bladder. I had to stay in hospital till the day after Boxing Day and so in our house Christmas simply fell apart. It takes a mum to make Christmas happen and my husband and son were just left floundering. It goes without saying that they started to appreciate just what I do around the house!!!!!

Karen said...

That story is awesome! I'm emailing it!

Anonymous said...

Just curious, what do you think of organizations like this?
http://www.feministsforlife.org

Brenda said...

After being sick all last week, I emerged from my bedroom to a house I could not believe! I had to go get McDonald's for the girls b/c there was nowhere for them to eat, no clean dishes or counterspace to cook on, and it was all just overwhelming!! It took us the better part of Saturday to get it back in order. (Husband was working long hours--not his fault either). Still, I think I am appreciated. :)

Buffy said...

The hospital training sounds fascinating and I am sure you must be giving and gaining a lot from it.

For me a house that is clean and tidy and has those feminine touches uplifts the spirits. The opposite also applies.

Emily said...

Your first week in the hospital sounds great Anna, I hope you are enjoying it! It's good also to see that we do only have so much time and that your efforts at home were missed. I like the story at the end!

Anna S said...

Anon: what do I think of "Feminists for Life"? Quite simply: I agree with the "life" part, and disagee with "feminism".

Look at one part of their message:

"... If you believe no woman should be forced to choose between pursuing her education and career plans and sacrificing her child..."

- Again, the old "have it all" impossible principle. I believe it's dangerous and unrealistic. Being a mother does require sacrifices - but they are worth it!

To sum it up: I mistrust any doctrine that isn't based on the Bible.

Mrs. G said...

I love the story at the end, Anna! My husband has been out of work the last several weeks and says he now has a new appreciation for what I do all day. He was always supportive of me being at home, but now he knows how hard I work!

According to HIS Power said...

Anna,

I have never commented before but I LOVE your blog! I read it quite often! Do you mind if I use this on my blog? I will link back to you, I promise! :o)

Blessings to you,

Julie

Anna S said...

Julie, hi there! Thank you for coming out of lurking ;) Yes, you are most welcome to use this.

Heather said...

Love the story! I'm going to have to send this to my mom friends.