So while Harald and I are living here in my in-laws home completely gratis, I've made it my goal to make their lives easier, and not the opposite...
I feel really good about this even, and I know that it makes my Mother-in-law a bit confused or uneasy even based on the sheer unhelpful nature of her own children. Really, and it's not meant to be offensive to my siblings-in-law or even my Husband, because I don't know, it might just be another one of those cultural differences between Norwegians and Americans as far as teaching your children manners. I know that while in public settings here in Norway, that children tend to be a bit, *ahem* unruly seeming...now obviously American children are not born with halos and copies of Emily Post under their arms, I'm not pretending that they are.
But in the States, when your child runs straight into someone, or hits them on accident (or even on purpose!) in say a supermarket, the parent would 9/10 apologize profusely, then prompt their children to apologize also.
Here, not so much.
Now even though I'm not yet a parent, I know that parenting styles are incredibly personal, and I'm not trying to call out Norwegian mothers has horrible parentors. Please don't think I am!
I just have really noticed a difference, generally speaking in how mothers here in Norway expect their children to behave.
For example, Harald's siblings (and him, when I don't nudge him in the ribs!) are older, and more than capable of clearing their plate after dinner, or at least moving it off the table, and closer to the sink, but they never do. They do not ask to be excused from the table (a HUGE deal when I was raised!), and have literally no chores around the house to do.
I think they might tidy their rooms when begged by their Mother, but she even brings down their laundry to the laundry room, and for her 18-year old son, washes, dries, folds and puts his laundry away for him!
So really, no offense meant, it's really more of a shocker to me than anything based on how I was raised, and my impression of children and other families in America.
So anyway, since we've been here, I've taken it on myself to get all the house laundry done when needed (yes, even my ungrateful brother-in-law's!), set the table and then clean up the kitchen every night after dinner, clean the downstairs bathroom, and try to help with making dinner every night as well.
Last night for example, I made eggplant parmesan with garlic bread and steamed zucchini.
Not to brag or anything, but it was AMAZING, and I was so proud of myself! See, I'm still not super confident in the kitchen (except for with baking, that I've been doing for years!) with cooking, so when I create something successfully on my own, without recipe, I feel really accomplished and cannot help smiling!
Now, granted my siblings-in-law, who are also used to having special meals made all for their picky palates, didn't care much for what I made for dinner last night, at least my mother-in-law, father-in-law and Harald and I finished everything, and enjoyed it.
I'm not taking this state of self-imposed Cinderella with a martyr's cross, but rather because, at the risk of sounding like a wedge of cheddar, over the past year or so, I feel like I've really come into my own as a woman and a person, I've strategized ideas like when and how to start a family with Harald, and what kind of person I want to be as a wife and later as a mother. I've been really inspired by a handful of individuals who I think share certain ideals that I've been cultivating...
So I'm sure more and more of this will emerge here on my blog in the future, but for the sake of this topic, the value I'm talking about is having a servant's heart and intentions.
I've realized that I truly do enjoy helping people, making their lives just a bit easier, and not with compliments and gratitude necessarily in mind either. I truly believe that the energy and actions that I put into the universe and towards my fellow humans will be the out most reward, and definitely in the long run...good things can and do happen to good people, and if we all were a little more courteous and loving our world would be such a better place...I'm just trying to do my own little part for a much bigger picture.
I'm about to start, The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. Like my past few endeavors, and those to come until I run out of the books that immigrated with me, this is a beauty I purchased at my favorite used book store in Washington. I read The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahriri earlier this year after I fell in love with the movie (the book was even better, btw, I definitely recommend it!), and with that decided that this post-modern style coming from Indian writers can be just lovely, and I should pursue more of the same. So my goal is to eat up every last morsel of this book plus the next in my literary lineup before New Years. My homework load is starting to stack up, but a goal is a goal! (Plus, it would bring my 2009 reading list to just shy of two dozen...still not as epic as it could have been, but every book counts!)