Friday, March 29, 2013

Desperate: Chapter Six

"Are you allowing yourself to get distracted by the hectic and messy nature of life, or are you keeping your eyes straight ahead on Jesus?"

So ask the authors at the very end of chapter six.  While this is not the house-keeping chapter of the book (that comes in chapter nine), it is a focus of the conversation.   The gist of the chapter is that there are some undesirable aspects of motherhood that need to be tended to, whether we like those areas or not, and we need discipline to get these jobs done. In speaking of difficult & undesirable tasks it is no wonder that housekeeping was the illustration used to get the point across.

While neither author was trained well in the areas of cooking, cleaning, etc., I believe most young moms need to learn how to run a household with children, even if they have already been trained in the domestic arts. It's one thing to watch someone keep a home and it's one thing to help someone do it.  It's another ball-game when you are the home-maker.  Trying to give your children the attention they need while keeping up with the housework is a difficult balance.  In fact, as I still have yet to really accomplish this, I am beginning to think it is impossible.

So often, I do take my eyes off of Christ and set them on the clutter and mess that surrounds me.  I become overwhelmed and I am not the example of holiness I desire my children to have in front of them.  Like Sally, I take the messes personally.  Like my family purposely piled things on the table or counter just to irritate me.  They may have been lazy.  They may have been absent-minded.  They may even have been disobedient.  But they truly have not been mean.

"Letting grumpiness become a habit when doing housework was useless, and more often than not, only served to make me angrier."

While I have lived the truth of Sally's statement, I need to take it to heart and remember it the next time I face a disorganized house.  Grumbling and complaining about the housework leads me to grumbling and complaining about my children and husband.  This makes me irritated and angry with them and, the next thing you know, there is turmoil in our home.

I also have to admit, when my children grumble and complain about chores it is because they have seen the poor example I have set before them.  In grumbling, I am training my children to do the same and my daughters to be grumbling and miserable mothers.

"Don't measure your success in life by your ability or inability to do housework efficiently."

I am one of the women whose mother had an immaculate home.  Ask any of my friends while I was growing up...there was not a spot on the end tables, not a piece of lint on the floor, and I never understood what people meant when they talked about kids' messy rooms - I don't think I ever saw clothes on the floor or an unmade bed more than 10 minutes into the day.  Having people over was an event.  Mom would spend a couple of days cleaning the already-clean house. The bathroom was made spotless seemingly hours before guests would arrive, then we were not able to use it!  Mom made the entire meal - no one was allowed to bring a dish to pass - and the table was set beautifully.

 Mom lived to make a beautiful home.  Me?  Not so much.  While having a clean house was nice, I will admit it had its tensions.  Comfort was not exactly the rule. Sadly, in striving to make my own house more comfortable, I often see the line crossed into total disarray.  Where is the balance?

I used to stress before people would come over - so much so that having people over was put on the back burner for quite some time as it was too stressful for my entire family.  I would see every spot on the wall, every speck of dust, even the microscopic germs in the bathroom.  My house needed to be perfect or people would judge me as an inept home-maker.  I would fail the exam everyone was sure to be giving me.

A dear friend (the same lady mentioned in this post) once reminded me that, as I do not pay attention to the imperfections in the homes of others, others do not pay attention to the imperfections in mine.  Yes, my home ought not give people the heebie-jeebies, but it doesn't need to be ready for the cover of Better Homes & Gardens, either.  People just want to feel welcome.

Accepting my limitations.

Though it has taken me years, I have become more accepting of my limitations.  I honestly cannot homeschool my children, have fun with them, provide for their needs and keep an immaculate house.  It's one or the other.  I choose to do things with my kids. While I often get wrapped up in household chores, even then it seems to be the bare necessities.

When having people over, I have learned to make sure the floor is swept and the kitchen and bathroom clean before guests arrive (and if my kids need to use the bathroom, they can.  I just remind people that children live here).  If the floor is really bad, I will mop it.  I have learned to allow people to bring a dish to pass (if they ask) when they are invited to dinner.  Our home is comfortable, the food basic but yummy, and our family is relaxed.  I figure once everyone walks in the door, the house deteriorates quickly, so why put my family in a tizzy for days?  Some women, like my mom, have the gift of making things beautiful while they show true hospitality.  I don't.  But, I can make people feel at home.
That is either my limitation or my gift...or both.

Continuing to learn.

I don't know if I will ever succeed in always keeping my eyes on Christ and off the clutter, but I do pray that the long, disheartening gazes at the messes will soon become quick glances.  Instead of being overwhelmed, I pray that I will breathe a prayer to my Helper and pick up without grumbling.

Are you finding it difficult to be disciplined in the area of housekeeping?  Maybe it's something else -  Bible reading, schooling, cooking.  I would love to pray for you.  Maybe you have suggestions for me to not be overwhelmed...I love to learn from others!  Leave a comment!


Jamie Parfitt said...

This lovely summarizing deserves comments! In fact, I meant to tell you at church that I was glad to see you walking in, talking with your children, instead of sitting in the van! [see your previous post or two. :-) ]

I have been cleaning for the past few days. I decided to use my prayer time to just dust a cabinet or wash the hand prints off the door to the woodpile. Instead of trying to use that 30 minutes to "get in shape" by walking and keeping my heartbeat up, I decided to get my house in shape instead. It has made my heart peaceful to just tidy a small thing at a time in the room, as I chat with God and make Him a real companion in my life. And I found a bag of missing things I got at Wal-Mart. I had searched EVERYWHERE, even all the bedrooms and the cars. But when my son was able to pick up a vacuum cleaner belt on his way through Batavia, my life was transformed and in the process of moving chairs to vacuum in the corners, I found the bag. How did it get there??? Who knows?

But now I can vacuum the carpets! Wow, what a change to that schoolroom! I got carried away today and vacuumed two bedrooms! I never knew it would feel so good to clean, until I could not do it. But this too shall pass. Soon I will find a new passion or project and the vacuum cleaner will sit until I command one of the children to turn it on and and suck up all those pieces of lint that seem to sprout there as if one of the devil's angels has been sowing lint seeds at night.

Please keep summarizing. I am enjoying it immensely.

Victoria said...

I'm so glad that I haven't needed to spend time in my van before church in the last few weeks! ;)

While I dread the thought of cleaning, once I get into it, I can't seem to stop. How nice it is to have a organized & clean environment; which is probably why I get so stressed when it is in a state of disorder. So glad you got the time to clean and get your house in shape!