| Musings |

Temperature Maid  

By now it’s become unclear: is she Temperature Maid or Temperature Queen?


aving a maid used to be the highest item on my wish list. It’s not anymore. Well, not really. I still wish for a maid, but not for dinner, laundry, shopping — I’ve got that figured out by now. The only maid I still really, truly, desperately need is a… Temperature Maid.

My temperature maid will have to be a live-in, simply because the demands of temperature adjustments are round-the- clock.

See, while temperature duties might come naturally to some, the only temperature adjusting activity that comes naturally to me is diving under the blanket and staying there, all warm, for as many hours as it takes to finish my book.

I got off easy, I confess. My husband is temperature-oblivious (and he’s passed those genes to my children). Since we’ve been married, I’ve begged him to like hot drinks. I’ve dreamed of making a steaming glass of tea for him, just as the queen makes for the king in all those marriage courses. So far, I’ve gotten nowhere. I try not to laugh when he blows on his warm soup. I chase after him on cold winter mornings to remind him to take a coat. (A jacket? A scarf? Anything!)

But somehow, there’s still so much the Temperature Maid needs to do in this home. The temperature-related decisions are many. Should the kettle be left on the hotplate over Shabbos, or should money be invested in a 24-cup urn instead? Should we purchase warm Bob the Builder slippers, or will they make the child refuse to get dressed in the morning? Which thermal blackout curtains will be best at keeping the heat in the living room? Which is the right thermos? The perfect throw blanket?

Her timing must be exact. She must set her alarm for exactly 45 minutes before bathtime to remind her to turn on the boiler. She must keep track of the time of day when the filter’s water is suddenly warm and make good use of it while preparing a bottle for the infant. She must not only learn to defrost in time, but she must de-fridge, too, allowing foods to warm to room temperature for each according to his needs. Defrost pita for the child. De-fridge avocado for the infant. Defrost muffins for the husband. De-fridge salad for the wife.

When the little boy puts on summer pajamas and comes giggling back to her, it’s Temperature Maid who gets feisty and shoos him back to his room, with admonitions that he take care of his body.

It’s Temperature Maid who turns on the bathroom heater a few minutes early so the child can get dressed in comfort. She moves on to the next room quickly, but her love, her warmth, stays and surrounds him as he struggles with his socks.

Because really, it’s not about the measure of the thermometer. It’s about temperature that’s measured with the heart.

Which is why Temperature Maid doesn’t leave once the house is warm and the soup bowls are filled. Her work has only just begun, and she stays a while.

The Heart Heating Remote is all hers. In her presence, cheeks are stroked, backs are massaged, and food is spiced generously. Using nicknames and eye contact, she’s got her eye on her temperature goal, and she’ll stop at nothing.

She hides a sugared pecan inside the dough of the roll that the child will take to school. She throws a marshmallow in the hot cocoa (a prerequisite to this gesture is actually unearthing the cocoa that’s buried deep in the cabinet, causing lots of guilt). She abandons her reading pile long enough to play a board game with her child.

She puts a rise in her voice as she greets people at the door. She keeps the rise out of her voice late on Friday afternoon when tempers are at risk of flaring. She surprises herself and throws potatoes in the long-forgotten food processor so she can have a kugel waiting. She doubly surprises herself by peeling an onion and throwing it in the food processor along with the potatoes, in place of her favorite onion powder shortcut. She momentarily leaves the batter long enough to spin the child to the sound of music playing (which means she surprised herself by actually turning on the music in the first place).

Extended family and friends benefit from her services, too. She takes the hour to fill out her Google Calendar with birthdays. She stops ignoring Google Calendar’s notifications long enough to make the call to the sibling. She takes the extra millisecond in the supermarket to let her smile move up to her eyes. She refuses to use the quick text response, but instead adds an emoji or an exclamation point (or even ten, if needed) to warm a particularly vulnerable heart.

By now it’s become unclear: is she Temperature Maid or Temperature Queen?

Either way, I am happy to have found her. I have found her, and she is me.

I think I’ll go make her a nice, hot tea.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 830)

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