Mark’s Remarks – Slackers and identities

marksI read an interesting letter last week. In the letter, a lady spoke of how her husband chided her when her parents were coming to town. He chided her because she always had to clean up her car and clean her house from top to bottom.

Indeed, a lot of us do this, don’t we? When we have parents or in-laws visiting, we feel we can’t show them how we live most of the time. Things can’t be dirty. It’s almost as if our self-worth is based on how clean everything is.

As usual, I analyzed that mentality. Why do we feel this way? Why do our cars need to be clean when parents come over? Why does your yard need to be manicured and spruced up before your dad comes to visit? Why do you care if there are dirty dishes in the sink when your mother pops in? After all, didn’t they deal with these things when they were parents of young kiddos?

About the same time, I saw a Swiffer commercial. In the commercial, a gal received the box of Swiffer stuff on her doorstep. As she tried out the contents of the box, her mother and grandmother were there to look over her shoulder. They shook their heads and how much dirt the Swiffer picked up from the daughter’s seemingly clean (to the daughter anyway) floor.

Both the mother and grandmother fretted and fussed over how the daughter “kept house.” The daughter made comments that she was fully aware of their attitude toward her housekeeping skills. The older women shook their heads and made comments about how easy “this generation” has it. The commercial ended.

Long ago, work was pretty much all there was. People worked their guts out from sun up ’til sun down. They rose at dawn and worked hard all day until bedtime. There were pie suppers and social functions from time to time, but not much. Work was what everyone did and hard work made one feel useful and important.

I think early on, being a hard worker became part of a person’s identity. If anyone was a “slacker,” it meant they had a flawed character. If anyone rested too much or took it easy once in awhile, it was frowned upon.

And then came the era of convenience. It just continued to get better and better. The Industrial Revolution made things easier for everyone. Technology has erased the need for some chores. Most folks today would be worn out after spending even half a day working as hard as some folks did less than a century ago.

But the mentality often remains, doesn’t it? I heard on Bott Radio Network that a large percentage of children would say their parents (and I’m talking about my generation being the parents) are judgmental. A large portion of that same group of kids thought their parents expected perfection. This was alarming to me.

As I grow older, I realize some of these things aren’t as important as I once did. I no longer ignore my kids in order to finish a task. I try to focus on spending my time wisely instead of putting all work ahead of anyone else. I know the rewards and satisfaction of hard work, yet I have come to realize that my identity is not in how clean my car, house or yard is.

And if anyone looks down their nose at those things, then that’s their problem, not mine.


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Mark Tullis

Mark is a 25-year veteran teacher teaching in Columbia. Originally from Fairfield, Mark is married with four children. He enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with his family, and has been involved in various aspects of professional and community theater for many years and enjoys appearing in local productions. Mark has also written a "slice of life" style column for the Republic-Times since 2007.
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