Friday, February 25, 2011

Needing Thanks

I read a post recently at Catholicmom that has put me in a reflective, examination-of-conscience sort of mood. The author writes about how when she became a wife, taking care of her house, she found herself constantly reporting every detail of her work back to her husband, looking for thanks.

"....when I grew up..., got married and began to keep a home for the first time..., something strange happened: I quickly developed a powerful need to make sure that [my husband] knew about each and every thing I had done in and for our home each day. Heaven forbid Michael would think I had not used every second of my day before and after work productively.

Through directly telling him or making little side comments, I had to make sure he was told about every grocery run, how many loads of laundry I managed to get through, how many times I unloaded the dishwasher; if I wiped off the counters in the bathroom, and if organized the bookshelf that day. And it really used to crush me when he forgot to thank me frequently enough (in my mind) for everything I did."

This really struck a chord with me. I think - very slowly - I'm starting to do less of this, but I know I'm guilty of it myself. The fact that there's such a temptation to account for how I spend all my time during the day probably stems from two selfish sources : 1. the desire of being recognized for all I do, and 2. the fear that I'm not actually doing as much as I should, and thus a need to justify all the "breaks" I get to take. My husband works eight-hour days, five days a week at a job where I know he's not slacking off...and he brings home a paycheck as proof of his accomplishments each week. I certainly do my share of work around the house, take care of the baby all day, manage the finances and run errands. But it's less obvious. A housewife's work often goes unnoticed. And that's how it's supposed to be - it's a great opportunity for formation in humility and selflessness. Really, if done in the proper spirit, it can help you live that "hidden life" of hidden sacrifices that I mentioned aspiring to in my very first post.

The author later quotes, of course, that most appropriate Bible passage - the one that sprang to my mind as soon as I had read her admission, and realized that I'm much the same way.

“Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father. When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.” – Matthew 6:1-4

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