Saturday, March 2, 2013

Home is Where the Dirt Is

Proverbs 31: 30-31
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Give her of the fruit of her hands,
    and let her works praise her in the gates.

Every mom is a working mom. Let's just get that out of the way right now. Whether you are working in public service, business, or as a homemaker, you are a working mom. And it's a big job. A BIG job.

Most of my waking hours during the school year are spent "working" - either teaching or planning/grading what I've taught, and then when I'm not doing that, I'm doing my level best to do my "mom" chores like cleaning and cooking and reading and comforting. In the summer and fall, I coach the school's color guard, so any extra time I end up with, I'm just exhausted from one of those activities. That's when I blog, get on Facebook, read, watch a few T.V. shows (though I have gotten much better about that lately!). Plus, I'm not 22 any more. I need to rest sometimes.

I wish there were more hours in the day.

It's just so much. So much. And I get very discouraged because I never do all of it well. I have to do my "working" stuff because, well, we need the money for bills. And I'm good at the grocery/cooking thing, so I make that a priority.  And my kids are at an age where playing with them and reading to them and teaching them and disciplining them is a 24/7 activity, so when push comes to shove, cleaning is what I throw to the curb. As a result, my house is in a state of grimy chaos most of the time.

It's an accomplishment to get most of the dishes done. Vacuuming and taking all of the trash out (all the way to the trashcans, not just to the front door) gives me the feeling that I have suddenly transformed our modest 4-square into a palace. And managing to scrub ALL of that mornings oatmeal/egg/peanut butter breakfast from the dining room table and chairs is usually only done minutes before we cover it in the hotdog grease/banana/milk lunch muck.

Removing the gunk and nastiness from the bathroom sinks and toilets is reserved for special occasions, like having someone over for a play date. But, by in large, if we're going to have company, it's just an exercise in damage control. Adam does the heavy lifting, running baskets of unfolded laundry (both clean and dirty) to hidden areas of the second floor. I run around with a trash bag, a rag, and a bottle of 409 power-cleaning anything that will hold still long enough (the kids included, you see).

And even if we do get all of the toys put away and dirt wiped up, there's still the random coat hangers in the dining room, the box of Goodwill clothes in the corner, the suitcase of snow clothes sitting next to the overflowing "shoe basket" in the living room, and the randomly broken curtain rods to round out my stellar decorating (If you've never been to my house, the irony will not translate here. I am a terrible decorator. Terrible. Seriously, I could have my own reality show). Every table top and shelf is just a place for "stuff."

Nothing is organized. Nothing is pretty. Nothing is clean. Nothing is welcoming.

So, I have to ask: is it just me? Is this just a testament to how badly I suck at homemaking?

And here's where irony enters (cosmic irony, for any fellow English teachers reading this):

I feel called more and more to be a homemaker.  Other than just after my daughter was born, I have NEVER wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. But lately, all I can think about is that I am really unhappy with the state of my house. It's not a home; it's just a house. And I am feeling a deep seeded conviction to honor what blessings God has given us by making it a welcoming, clean, comfortable, organized, uncluttered environment.

I want to spend my evenings playing and reading with my kids. I want to cuddle with my husband and watch a movie or talk about our day. But if I do that, then things don't get done - the dishes continue petrifying in the sink, the trash piles higher and higher, the toys become so distended and unorganized that the kids won't play with them because they can't find all of any single one item. And then there are all of the papers to grade, lessons to plan, emails to return, yada, yada, yada...

I feel like I am dishonoring God because I am not keeping my home as it should be.  I want my home to feel warm and inviting to everyone. I want my husband to come in to a clean, relaxed, comfortable environment. I want my children to live in a home that is an example of making the best with what we have, and this is not it.  It's not that I want something lavish and expensive; I just want it to be nice.

So, what do you do? I don't know that there is anything that I can do other than to pray about it. Look for guidance and listen to God for help and comfort. He has always opened doors for me, and I have to trust that he will open this one too, but not until it's time.

Patience. This seems to be a theme with my journey. I will be patient, and I will do my best with what I have and what I can do. God will take care of the rest, and in the mean time, I'll just dim the lights.

You won't notice the cobwebs that way.

(p.s. God speed to all of you "working moms" out there. That which does not kill us...)


  1. I really like I signed up a few years ago for her emails, but didn't really get into them until this year. I used to be terrible about dishes, laundry, and "hot spots" of stuff. Flylady has helped, but I would have to credit my faith as well. I would just ignore things so I could sit down on the sofa for a bit, but now I go ahead and knock it out when I see it. I don't seem to enjoy laziness as much as I used to.

  2. Love you, love you, love you!

  3. I agree with ~G, Flylady helped me, even as a Stay at Home Mom, I had 4 children and at one time, 4 of them were under the age of 6. It was hard keeping up and Flylady helped me get on track. At the same time, there is a level of acceptance that, with children, nothing will ever be perfectly in its place while they are young. The poem about "quiet down cobwebs, dust go to sleep..." was taped to my wall for many years, it was my 'out' for cuddles over cobwebs! I pray the peace of the Spirit fills you no matter where God leads you in this process!

  4. This, too, is just a season. So many more will come and go.

  5. I could have written this post. I have actually had mini panic attacks when I think of the day my son asks to have someone come over to play (without at least 1/2 days notice), or wants a sleepover!

  6. A quote I want on a plaque says:

    "Please ignore the mess. My children are making memories."

    The only issue is I don't have children, unless you include the pets and husband. But regardless, I have to remind myself that when I'm having a playdate, those are parents, too, who are experiencing the same thing I am.