Work: It’s What I Do

I value hard work.

It took me some time to realize the intrinsic link between that value and my worldview. A hard worker is as attractive to me as sculpted arms or deep chocolate eyes. On days I feel unproductive, my sense of self worth plummets. For me, recognizing how I view hard work was critical in recognizing my own sense of self and defining what I want in a life mate.

Does my focus on work destroy the joy of play?

When my son and I go outside to play, I usually get distracted with a yard chore, or want to go check the mail. I sit on the floor in his playroom and immediately notice the dust gathering in the corner. We spend a lot of one-on-one time together, and usually I would rather us be reading to each other or helping each other with a task than battling Transformers toys or constructing Lego cities.

My son is only seven and, as someone just pointed out to me, play is children’s work. It’s how they sort out their emotions and their sense of the world. Play is a child’s chance to interact with other children and to connect with their parents. Being able to act goofy and suspend reality give a child excellent critical thinking and problem solving skills.

Acting goofy and transcending into fantastical worlds of a child’s creation give a parent the chance to “be productive” while also connecting neurons that have long since lapsed.

Perhaps an adult’s play, in addition to the creative thinking we are able to engage in at work or home renovation projects, is exercise and group fitness.

I greatly enjoy my runs, especially with other people, riding bikes with my son, and going to the gym. I feel a release of the obligations I put on myself. I feel more productive.

I am able to reward myself by being able to say, “way to go, you accomplished something.”

Ruth at work

This Labor Day weekend, my son spent two days straight hanging with his mom and doing hard work. We have a house we are renovating, and it needed some female attention. My mom and I spent long hours on Sunday and Monday cleaning floors, washing window blinds, mowing the grass, and organizing tools.

My son hung in there with us like a champion. He didn’t complain or whine. He seemed to enjoy himself for the most part. And, he helped. He scrubbed floors, he ran errands around the house bringing us brooms and dustpans and dry towels. He worked hard.

And, I loved him for it. I wanted to reward him for all his productivity. When I saw other parents’ photos of family hikes and last days of summer spent at the lake or pool, I felt a pang of guilt and jealousy. I also realized I needed to capitalize on the time I had to work on the house.

I credit myself for providing some fun experiences for son on Saturday, and hopefully showing him how work can be fun.

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