I was one of those mothers that kept on top of things by sheer brute force. I battled toy debris, dirty plates, and laundry 24/7. There was a place for everything and I spent a good portion of my time maintaining a strict sense of order in the house. I’m not sure my kids appreciated my efforts. Instead of reading stories I alphabetized the bookshelf, I organized the hall closet with color coded ribbons around the sheet sets instead of playing tent, and rarely did we leave the sink full of dirty dishes so we could slip off to the park. How fun was I?
There came a time when I did not feel my services were in high demand. Imagine that? Larry was out of town when he mistakenly asked during our nightly call, “What did you do with your day?” Of course I decided that was the most patronizing statement ever known to woman (I may have been over tired). I did what any undervalued worker would do, I went on strike, putting a permanent kink in my demand curve.
I left toys where they were abandoned (I may have inadvertently kicked a few around to make it look messier), I did not empty the dishwasher, in fact, I left dishes on the table and counter-tops congealed with ketchup, and half eaten tater tots. I ignored the mountain of laundry, not a bed was made, bicycles left in the driveway, mail unattended, wet towels on the floor, garbage overflowing, well, I think you get the picture. The day Larry was to arrive home I landed my sorry ass on the couch, slipped on a pair of baggy sweats, a cold beer in my hand (I never drank beer but it went well with the scene I was creating), and sat transfixed by reruns of Magnum P.I.
When Larry walked through the front door (I wish I could of seen his face) I didn’t move a muscle. The kids were going nuts. I removed the moratorium on sugary snacks because I was proving a point. Now Larry is a smart man. He made a quick assessment of the situation, removed his jacket, rolled up his sleeves, and proceeded to carve out a small path through the disordered house. He smiled at me when he got to the family room, asked if I needed a cold beer, and said nothing about the muddy Tonka Trucks in the dishwasher. He took all of us out to dinner that night, tucked me into bed early (I’m sure he thought I totally lost it), and he spent much of the night restoring the house to pre-strike form. I’m sure he considered installing padded walls, but by morning, I was miraculously back in demand (not that anyone wanted my job).
Seth says, “Just because you have a supply (a skill, an inventory, a location) that doesn’t necessarily mean you are entitled to demand. The market decides what it wants. You can do your best to influence that choice, but it’s never (alas) based on what you happen to already have. There’s a reason that garage sale prices tend to be pretty low (ouch). We can get pretty self-involved on supply, forgetting that nothing works without demand.”
Sometimes our light goes out, but is blown again into instant flame by an encounter with another human being. Each of us owes the deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this inner light.
DR. ALBERT SCHWEITZER