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."