Thursday, September 11, 2008

“Invisible Chores”: The White Picket Fence

I love to just “relatively loaf” around for a few weeks in between tackling major chores. Fall and spring are both my busiest seasons, so I like to give myself a “reading vacation” in August to gear up for September, and in January or February before Spring. “Relatively loafing” means that, relative to my normal activity level, I consider myself to be loafing. A “reading vacation” means that only minimal maintenance is accomplished. The most major task I will tackle is the act of reading a complete novel.

This week, with the first full days of school, I began the gargantuan task of painting my white picket fence. This is what I call an “invisible chore”. Like dusting and vacuuming, it is a task that does not get noticed unless it is neglected. Painting a new color is much more glamorous because everyone is bound to notice. But white on white is not too rewarding.

Still, it must be done, and when I get up close and see what a real difference I am really making in the condition of the wood pickets, I am really glad I did not skip another season. I am certain I have not coated the fence since before my last pregnancy, and it is a job that really should be done every other year.

As I painted, I recalled a quote that I had read in the paper during Christie Brinkley’s public divorce proceedings. She said, “I thought I had the white picket fence.” What she meant was, she thought she had the perfect marriage until the horrendous revelation otherwise. The white picket fence has always represented the suburban American dream, usually going along with marriage, 2.5 kids, and a dog.

When we see a white picket fence dividing front and back yards on a luscious green lawn, we usually do not think about what goes into its maintenance. It is menial. It is not glamorous. It is not romantic. You have to get your hands dirty, and maybe even paint in your hair. The same goes for marriage – especially with kids. Not until you are in it do you realize what really goes into it from day to day.

If you don’t keep up with those invisible chores, the white picket fence starts to gray a bit. Another season and a layer of mold begins to grow. Yet another and the paint begins to peel. Next comes the weather rot, which invites the termites to come have a party. Then you have to start replacing pickets. If you don’t, the whole fence might just come down.

And you don’t want that.

So just keep up the good work to keep up your strong fence, and family.

“Garden Roses White Picket Fence” Painting by Heidi Malott

1 comment:

Loren Christie said...

Great analogy. My fence could use a weekend getaway.-Loren