I’ve written before that pot makes me a better mother. I yell less; I play with my kids more; I chill out. I’ve written that pot makes me less anxious and less worried about the world. I don’t freak out all the time. When I freak out, I tend to get stressed, which makes me angry, which perpetuates that yelling thing. But there’s one thing pot does for me that I’ve never talked about: housework.
Pot does my housework.
Pot does my tedious, stupid tasks. It does my dishes and folds my laundry. It does my big tasks best, though: pot does not shy from oven-cleaning, or baseboard-scrubbing, or polishing my cabinet faces. Pot is best friends with not my Doritos, but my Swiffer Duster. When I have a day of housework ahead, I pop on a Wilco album, smoke some weed, and get to cleaning.
And my house sparkles, motherfucker.
How I Used To Do Housework
I did housework, before, probably like every American does it: miserably, resentfully, and as quickly as possible. I cut corners. People won’t really look in that bathroom, I’d reason. My kids? They could dig their clothes, unfolded, out of baskets. They didn’t need their shirts folded in their drawers. They’d only tear them apart. Baseboards dirty? We owned dogs. High shelves needed dusted? I’m sorry, are you my mother?
I resented it all. I did the bare minimum. Housework took me away from real life. It was a chain around my ankle, a relic stinking of 1950s housewifery, even when my husband helped. Underneath it all, when I dig deep, I thought: who, me? Who was I to do menial housework? Why should I wash windows and dishes and sticky handprints? Can’t we afford a maid yet?
What a horrible way to think. How privileged, how gross. And yet: when I examine myself, I find that I really believed housework was beneath me and my time. I had better things to do than dishes.
How I Do My Housework Now
Housework is primarily a series of mindless, repetitive tasks. We can view them this way, and we’re doomed to drudgery. However, there’s a long cultural history that finds joy and meaning in that same drudgery. No, don’t tune me out yet. Famed mindfulness practitioner Thich Nhat Hanh saw nothing wrong with repetitive labor; monks see it as a way to serve God.
But let’s set the monks aside, because they could get overzealous about everything. Thich Nhat Hanh talked about mindfulness: “the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us,” says Mindfulness.org. It’s an art of doing tasks deliberately, to the best of one’s ability, and devoting full attention to them while practicing gratitude.
You can do this with housework, and I find it’s easiest to do in conjunction with pot.
Pot’s a very expedient way to practice gratitude while scrubbing my baseboards. I don’t worry about making dinner. I don’t stress about my kids’ grades. My life becomes concentrated on small spots of dirt. I must clean those spots as best as I can. Wilco fades as I try to remember: I am lucky to have baseboards to clean. The miracle of owning baseboards: how many of us on planet Earth have the same square footage of baseboard I do? This says so much about wealth and privilege there in those wooden planks. So I must keep them clean, I must take off those spots, because I am fortunate.
It’s all very woo, I know. But it helps me.
How It Works
Pot lends itself to deep focus on specific tasks, which for some (including me) can be an aid to mindfulness. Through mindfulness, housework becomes something more than stupid work we have to finish so we can get on with real life.
Take folding as an example. Folding clothes becomes more than tossing shirts into baskets, an annoying task that must be done as quickly as possible. It’s purposeful labor; it must be done right, and carefully, with gratitude for the clothing and love for those it belongs to. There is nothing other than folding clothes. It’s not a time to think of something else. It’s not a time to wish you were finished. Folding clothes is paying attention to folding clothes: creasing tiny shirts, piling small pants, holding them up and deciding: which child does this shirt belong to? It commands and demands full attention. Pot can get me there (mostly, I mean — no one’s perfect).
Once housework becomes something more, we’ve freed ourselves from misery and found something else on the other side: a kind of peace, a purpose. We have learned something about life and its value. Pot calms my mind enough to get me into that headspace about my housework.
It’s worth it.
And when a child interrupts me, I can take that interruption smoothly, seeing them as a person in need, not someone sent from hell to pester me. Pot chills me out. Sure, I sound like someone’s crazy hippie mom. And maybe I am. If so, bring it on — just bring me some green with it, please.
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