Why Bother Ordering Our Days?
I grew up under the influence of two very different women: my mother and my grandmother. My grandmother’s life, having the stronger pull, resulted in her life, instead of my mother’s, of becoming my model. My mother’s personality lent itself to more of a “fly by the seat of your pants” philosophy, one that was unpredictable, hard to follow, and left me wondering what to expect next. Mom took each day as it came, dealing with whatever arose when it rose up. If the kitchen cupboards were empty, she flew out the door to the grocery store. If there were no clean clothes in our drawers, laundry became the focal point. Her days were shaped by the particular urgency that presented itself. Grandma, on the other hand, shaped her days by assigning to them a particular routine for each day of the week.
Dependable and Reliable Routines
Routines, I believe, like grandma established, have a way of giving order to our days, while ordered days shape our lives into a dependable and reliable form. People know what to expect from us simply by watching how we live out our days. Grandma’s consistency of how she put order into each day made her trustworthy. Her predictable and dependable routines made her a predictable and dependable person in my life. I knew what to expect from her. She did not leave me wondering.
I knew that she set aside Mondays for washing laundry and hanging it out to dry on clothes lines inside in the basement, or outside in the backyard, weather depending. On Tuesdays, I knew the smell of the hot mangle iron would fill the house as she pressed the wrinkles out of sheets and tablecloths. Wednesdays, the whirring sound of the mixer was heard as she beat butter and eggs together for batches of cowboy or gumdrop cookies. Thursdays I knew she slung shopping bags over her arm, walked briskly down to the corner to catch the city bus downtown and shopped for bargains. On Fridays she scrubbed her kitchen and bathroom floors and polished her furniture. Weekends were quieter, and gave her time to sit at her dining room table to write letters to her family and friends. On Sundays she sat in one of the side pews at church for Mass.
Did her routines make her rigid and incapable of reckoning with any number of interruptions that arose on any given day? On the contrary. I often interrupted her. I rang her doorbell often because I knew she was the dependable and reliable one in my life. She never minded setting aside her mop, turning off the mangle, or letting the scrub water grow cold. She understood that the gravity she had in her life was something to be shared with somebody who needed gravity in their life.
Why bother ordering our days? It is worth giving order to our days so that when someone shows up needing order in theirs, we have something to give.