I don’t know when my passion for certain household chores began. I think mainly of the small things, the quiet and seemingly mundane duties that bring me pleasure; sweeping, folding laundry, washing dishes. Then there’s the act of ironing. The satisfaction of seeing cotton, silk, linen and even denim smooth out and straighten gives me a kind of strange, existential high. I approach these chores like a spiritual discipline, on par with fasting and prayer. There’s something about the careful consideration required to do them well that puts me at ease.
I imagine that, for some, specific chores carry negative childhood associations; their parents ordering them to clean their room, take out the garbage and so forth. There is nothing particularly sexy about dusting off bookshelves or scraping eggs off a pan. But I relish aspects of domestic maintenance for some of the same reasons I enjoy sitting with a novel: Reading satisfies my desire to be alone for healthy stretches while also connecting me to others and their stories. Similarly, ironing my son or daughter’s outfit for the day connects me to them and reminds me in some small way that we’re not alone in this world — that somebody cares.