Friday, November 9, 2007

Thankful For: Work

Do you believe the principle given here:
For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.(2Thes. 3:10)

I sure do. I also believe the one here:

The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing.(Proverbs 20:4)

And here:

Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise (Proverbs 6:6)

I'm sure there could be more than a few applications for these verses, but when I read them I see "work ethic" all over them. In layman's terms "get off your lazy hiney and do what needs doing and later enjoy the benefits of your work".

Over the last 2 years or so our whole family has tried hard to adapt/adjust to Kev's new rotating schedule at work. Some genius in human resources (there's the first problem right off the bat) decided to switch the whole plant over to 3 rotating shifts. Two weeks of days, two weeks of afternoons, two weeks of midnights, then back to 2 weeks of days. Everything I've ever read about human beings and sleep (I once had insomnia for 2+years so I did a lot of reading), tells me that this is THE dumbest idea for a work schedule, that anyone might come up with. As much as you try, your body just does not get used to the idea of being asleep/awake at rotating times of the day/night like this. Human beings were not created to be awake when the sky is dark - this is why our brains start telling us it's time to yawn, and why our energy level naturally decreases, the later in the day it gets. Granted, there are some people that can work a midnight shift and sleep during the daytime, and do fine with that, but they are the exception to the rule. Most people can't do it. Most people can't juggle a 3 set rotating shift like this either. Most of the people at Kev's plant can't handle it, and now human resources is in a quandry as to why the accident level has spiked since the shift change. Duh... folks are tired! I should get a job as a human resources director. First order of business would be to fire everyone with dumb ideas, and the next in line would be to put everyone back on day shift.

So, over the last (almost) 2 years, Kev has been on this schedule, and as a family we've all had to adapt to it. The reports are in folks, and they're not good. The result of this is that he's constantly exhausted when he's home, and we're constantly stressed to either stay quiet so he can sleep (ever try keeping 5 kids quiet all day long while they're stuck inside for days on end during a winter storm?) Add to this mix, is the fact that my own sleep schedule is completely out of whack and I can't seem to get it back to any kind of normalcy. In some ways I've adapted, but in other ways things have suffered as a result. Due to the fact that I can't sleep when he's not here at night, I'm also dog-tired exhausted during the day when I have to be awake - because he's sleeping and someone has to teach these kids and get the household chores done. On more than one occaision I have stayed home from church on a Sunday so I could sleep - and slept right through people knocking on the door, the alarm going off, and the dogs trying to get it (or out). When you're that tired, a freight train rumbling through the room wouldn't bother you one bit. Thankfully, the flexibility of homeschooling allows us the opportunity to do such things like take (verbal) spelling pre-tests during dinner time! I thank the Lord from the bottom of my heart, that we still have the freedom to homeschool.

Some of the other things that have changed around our house as a result of this, is that I'm the one that does the majority of the inside and outside chores. I don't mind doing this, and thankfully I know how to mow the lawn, haul wood, clean a pond pump and that sort of thing. I don't mind at all being a help to Kevin this way, but at the same time I don't have the energy to get it all done, the way it used to all get done when he was on a normal schedule and we both did inside and outside chores. The result of that, is that the old homestead doesn't look as orderly and tidy as it used to. It's a bit annoying, but it's really not that big of a deal, in the grand scheme of things. If one of us were to die tomorrow I can't imagine someone saying "no, I don't think I can go their funeral, they had a messy yard and their laundry was never all done".

The reason I posted those verses above, is because Kev and I both have a rather militant sense of work ethic. I suspect that came for both of us as a result of being raised by single moms who had to work to put food on the table. Kids live what they learn - there are no two ways about that. We've tried hard to instill this in our kids and so far, the oldest two seem to both have this same drive when it comes to getting things done. I see glimpses of it in the other 5, but at their ages they're all in different maturity levels so I don't expect them to be little workhorses. Kids need to be kids and do kid stuff - it's the only time in their life when they can (because if they jump on the beds and sneak cinnamon toast when they're adults, they'll be locked in a home for the mentally wonkified).

While everyone needs a lazy day once in a while to regroup mentally and physically, being a sluggard (sloth, lazy) as a way of life is something that would never fly around here. A good look around the yard might make someone think that it does, but that's only because of this wretched work schedule, not because we want it to look this way.

go to the ant...Because I'm on a Thankful Theme this month, as I thought about all of this last night and this morning, I have to say that even with the sense of being stretched far too thin, I am thankful for the opportunity and the ability to work. Whether that means getting all the laundry done, or cleaning the yard, hauling wood inside, or just doing a full day of lessons with all five kids. Sometimes it means working online with my store, updating the church's website, working on my faerie story sequel, or going over our household budget to make sure all the bills are squared away and there's enough left for an industrial strenth sized bag of cheetos and dvd rentals for movie night twice a month. In whatever capacity work manifests itself, I'm thankful for the opportunity to do it, and to have that sense of accomplishment when it's done.

The Treasury of Scripture knowledge says this about the ant in Proverbs 6:6:

"The ant has been famous in all ages for its social habits, foresight, economy and industry. Collecting their food at the proper seasons, they bite off the ends of the grain to prevent it from germinating, and lay it up in cells till needed."

I'm okay with being an ant, even if I'm a really tired ant, most of the time.