Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Giving bathroom duty new meaning

On Thursday morning, I left from gate E10 on a direct flight to White Plains, New York; I spent the weekend in Connecticut. After my most yummy no-whip grande soy white mocha from Starbucks and before my departure, I visited the women's room; the facilities on commuter jets are unreasonably small.

When I entered the lavatory across from the gate, there she was. Hard at work. Dignified and meticulous, she lined up cups of blue Listerine next to each sink. She had bowls of mints, bottles of hand cream, and packs of tissues on a table near the exit. I wish I knew her name, but I didn't ask. I was too mesmerized by her attention to every detail of the needs of the female passengers who entered her domain.

She gave new meaning to "bloom where you are planted." In the bathroom at the end of the farthest terminal at Charlotte Douglas International Airport, she makes every woman feel like a business-class passenger. She cleans each stall after each use. She offers each woman a freshly folded paper towel after hands are washed. The messes she must clean up. The smells she must endure. The impoliteness of the travelers. The lack of attention paid to her despite all the attention she pays to others.

I won't lie; there are times when my life as a stay-at-home mother feels a lot like working the graveyard shift at a budget motel: smelly, never-ending work for done for demanding, low-paying, ungrateful guests. Is this all there is to eat? Can you bring me clean sheets and towels? This pillow is too firm. This pillow isn't firm enough. When was the last time this comforter was washed? Where are my clothes? Did you steal something from my room when you cleaned it? Can you iron this? There's a bug on the wall; can you come to my room and kill it? The toilet is clogged. The sink won't stop dripping. You expect me to leave a tip at this lousy hotel?

Today I washed five loads of laundry. Some of the items were put into the dryer. Some were hung up. The items that came out of the dryer were folded and put into piles according to owner and item type; then all those piles were placed on the beds of their rightful owners. Some items were ironed and hung in the appropriate closets. Baseball items were left in the laundry room in the area designated for baseball apparel. I sorted clothes that are too small for Daniel into bags for a little boy at church. I put his long-sleeved shirts into his closet. I replaced the sheets and comforter on my bed; down comforter season has officially ended in Charlotte. I sorted my own spring and summer tee shirts for ready use.

And that was only the laundry. There was minivan cleanup. There were homeschooling responsibilities. Daniel is applying to go to a local Christian school in the fall, so phone calls and computer work were called for in that regard. Horseback riding. Baseball practice. Walk the dog. Sure, other people could help; but how can hotel guests be expected to clean up after themselves?

But I bloomed. I prayed through folding every towel, grateful for the water, the detergent, the washer and the dryer. I washed the dishes after lunch, grateful for the food we eat, the beverages we drink. I fingered my coffee cup slowly, tenderly - the mug that I bought in La Coruna in January. My dear friend, Antonio, accepted my offer to buy him a mug only if I bought the same one for myself; that way we would think of and pray for each other every time we used it. (Who wouldn't love such a thoughtful friend?) I even prayed through ironing, thankful for the wonderful wardrobe I own and the electricity that surges through our home, heating the iron, powering the air conditioner through 90 degree days, and giving me a view of the world through my computer screen.

I sometimes feel planted, embedded, chained to this house, this life, this noble, though sometimes dreadfully dull, occupation I have chosen. But I am determined to bloom here. To thrive. To lift my heart in thanksgiving and praise every day no matter the circumstances. To lift my eyes in love and laughter when my husband and children enter the house or the room where I am. To lift my senses enough to enjoy the fragrance of clean laundry, crisp sheets, and my children's necks. To lift my spirits through music, dance, reading, journaling, and living as fully as I can every minute of every day.

On those days when I escape, when I head for the airport and fly away to reconnect with old friends and make new ones, when I leave from CLT on my way to MIA, MAD, LCG, or FCO, I will head for the restroom opposite gate E10, rinse my mouth with blue Listerine, leave a healthy tip, and thank that beautiful, hard-working woman for inspiring me to make the most of one of the least appreciated jobs on the market.

1 comment:

Lisa from Ohio said...

Wow! Great post! Reminds me of the Proverbs 31 woman :-) Take a moment for yourself (perhaps while holding that special mug) and read these words of Scripture (verses 10-31)..take them to heart...because that, my dear, is who you are!!!