Art vs. Chore


It used to be an after dinner ritual, a dance between me and my mother.  Mom would put away the left overs.  I would clear the table.   Together we would do the dishes.   Mom would wash, I would dry and put away.   We would talk about our days.   She would answer the deep questions of a tween (of course we weren’t called that then).   And together, we would solve the problems of the world.

I didn’t mind drying the dishes, but I envied my mother being able to play in the bubbles and warm water.    When I asked to switch roles, I was always denied.  Her mother washed and she dried when she was a little girl.  We were continuing the tradition.

Our dishwasher went on the fritz this past week.  We have tried different things to fix it.  Finally we relented, and called the repair man.   Until he can get out and get my life back to “normal”, I am currently washing our dishes by hand.   That seems so old fashioned.   Who does that anymore?   We are too busy to wash our own dishes these days.  Much more important work to do.

As I reached my hands into the sudsy water, searching for the silverware, it occurred to me how satisfying it is to wash the dishes.  It is a job where you can easily track your progress—seeing the chore through to the end.   You take a dirty dish; put it in the sink; scrub, swish, scrub; and presto–clean!

In teaching, our days are not always so clear cut.  We know our job–teach the Standards.  And we teach, and we teach, and we teach.   But teaching is a job that is not always as cut and dry as washing the dishes.  That’s why they call teaching an “art” and washing dishes a “chore”.  Tonight I realized after being an “artist” all day, it is relaxing to complete a mindless “chore” and have the opportunity to admire your handiwork at the end of a job well done.


2 thoughts on “Art vs. Chore

  1. Love your metaphor about art vs chore and that insight into why sometimes it’s a pleasure to do chores after being an artist all day! (I also wash dishes by hand–always. When I moved into my old house, I intended to do a kitchen remodel. There’s no dishwasher! But I didn’t have the money for a remodel, and now I’ve gotten used to it. But I have to say: wasn’t a big deal when I was single, but now we’re a family of four, and there are A LOT of dishes! Makes me long for the “old days” in my old house where I had one!)

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