After I was married, one of the many things that surprised me was that each morning, we would all gather around and my mother-in-law would sit and serve that first cup of tea. She would hand out the medicines to my father-in-law, the water, the tea and the biscuits. Then she would hand out tea and biscuits to my husband.And so on. No one would reach out and try to help themselves, even the dog sat and waited her turn.
Having come from a family where tea (and breakfast) was on the table and you helped yourself without waiting to be served, I naturally, found this morning ritual strange. And tedious.
I think my mom-in-law sensed my discomfort. Because one day, she explained why.
“You are all busy with your lives. All day you are coming and going on your own schedules. I don’t know when you will return or whether we will have another meal together today. I also know everyone can help themselves, my husband can take his own medicine and tea. But it also means so much that one time of the day I can have you all together and I can be there with you. And handing over the biscuits is no chore, I do it because you are my family and I love you.”
Now my mother-in-law is no more. I have that job of handing over tea and biscuits and stuff.
And no, it’s not tedious.
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True that! There are so many little things we do (often without thinking) that may seem strange to others but makes perfect sense to us!
Sometimes, understanding is all that it takes. For instance, my Accomplice once watched me taking each piece of laundry out of the machine, and shaking it. He commented that I was wasting my energy, since it was just going to the dryer to get tangled up.
I told him that I liked to do it that way because I was being present with each of them, Shaking my kids’ clothes out makes me see how they’ve grown, what they like to wear, who they are now. His and mine remind me that we are together, but individuals. It pleases me to wash towels, sheets, and the like, so we can use them.
He’d never thought about it that way. =)
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