For the Chief Cook and Bottle Washer

An infamous chief cook and bottle washer, my Mom in 1965. (c) 2012 The Catholic Counselor Lady.

A saint for housekeepers

I was actually very surprised when I read about today’s Saint (April 26).  It is Saint Zita. And to be quite honest, I have never heard of this lady who was born in the village of Monte Sagrati, Italy in 1218.  But the information that immediately caught my eye is that she is the patron of housekeepers. She was another saint who reaffirms taking great pride and patience in her menial tasks. Once again it is celebrating the little things in life that make such a big difference in the spiritual.

It was from my grandparents that I first heard the term “chief cook and bottle washer” as I helped my mother around the house. My Mom taught me how to cook and clean. From there I launched my first professional occupation: that of keeping a home tidy. At times it can feel like an unending and thankless position. It is the type of thing that is noticed mostly when it is not done. And it is something that has been a primary obligation and a thread throughout my entire life in spite of all of my endeavors. It seems like the need to throw in a load of wash and to clear a dirty dish has always hung over my head, or at least for as long as I can remember. However, I am thankful to God that from time to time my help cometh from the Molly Maids and an occasional coerced offspring.

Homemakers are experts at multitasking

Multitasking is second nature to motherhood and women. Sorry if I offend any feminists, but take it up with anyone who tries to juggle kids, housework, and even a career.These things are not easily accomplished.This is why I appreciate that we have patron Saints for this sort of thing. I can see why many women who have managed to make it to the doctoral level find it much easier to tell everyone that they simply cannot cook. What I hear they are really saying is that they do not cook. There is a difference. I often wonder about the competency of an “educated” professional who finds difficulty in reading and following a recipe. Just saying. Unfortunately my own domestic achievements are not something that I feel comfortable bragging about.  You probably have heard: “never trust a skinny cook.” What if that cook happens to find time in between making the crème brulee and changing dirty diapers to get to the gym?  Again, I’m just saying.

Faith celebrates everyday life

I particularly appreciate the common sense that the Church has in celebrating the accomplishments of those who are in the trenches of everyday life. Sure, many of us might dream of being missionaries or big city executives, but the fact of the matter is that someone must get the house clean and take care of the babies in the meantime. St. Zita is a tribute to those in this vocation. The irony is that the small and seemingly insignificant parts of our lives, are really important and valued in spite of how we might feel. So if you find yourself soiled with soggy gold fish crackers, covered in dust bunnies, and buried under dirty dishes with one hand in the clutch of a toilet bowl brush — Hold your head up high!

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2 Responses to For the Chief Cook and Bottle Washer

  1. Jill Campbell says:

    Nice article. Just in time for Mother’s Day too.

  2. Rosanne says:

    She and I are kindred spirits!

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