By Mari-An Santos


When we were growing up, my mother assigned us to do certain chores on weekends and during our summer break.

I learned how to clear the dining table and how to wipe it clean without leaving any crumbs or leftover food on the floor.

I learned how to wash the dishes with my mother first demonstrating how it’s supposed to be done: Rinse the dirty dishes in a basin of water. With a soapy sponge, wipe the glasses, plates, and utensils clean. Rinse everything thoroughly.

Every so often, my mother would come around to inspect my work. She would look closely, sniff, and then slide her fingers down the dishes. She would point out a tiny fleck of rice still sticking to a bowl or the slippery, still-soapy side of a glass. I had to wash those items again, of course. It took some time before she was completely satisfied with my work.

I learned how to care for wooden floors, sweeping, buffing, and waxing them. I found out which direction it was best to sweep with the broom and how to angle the dust pan so that my efforts did not go to waste.

I learned to cook and bake too. When we made brownies or cookies, my mother would let me lick the spoons clean. The reward, of course, was getting to eat whatever we had made.

I also had to clean the bathroom, which was my least favorite chore. Of course, I knew that someone had to make sure that the toilet was spic and span, I just couldn’t accept the fact that I had to dig my hands deep into wherever our bodily waste went on a daily basis.

Growing up, I did not understand why I had to do any of these things, especially when we had helpers who could do it. But when I started living alone, I realized the value of such hands-on knowledge. Because of my mother’s diligence, I could take care of a house and myself. It is one of the most enduring lessons that I learned from my parents, and I will be forever grateful.

I still don’t like cleaning the toilet though.