Yesterday I had a few experiences that reminded me why I’m doing this and just how behind I am.
My husband has decreed that next week’s spring break will be spring cleaning. He listed off a bunch of projects he wants to work on. Some of those projects are cleaning, for example the garage which still holds a gaggle of our landlord’s things which he hopefully will want to claim. Other projects aren’t strictly cleaning..more honeydo type of stuff and here’s where it gets sketchy. I like my husband. I love him too, but I like him. I want to spend time with him and my children want to spend time with him. I’m guessing that if most of his spring break is spent looking for his tools to start his projects, or cleaning up clutter to get to the point of actually deep cleaning…it won’t be pretty.
My bedroom still has about 20 boxes in it. The garage has about 15 boxes. My husband’s tools are in a box. Now blessedly the boxes are labelled. Well labeled. They’ve been labeled three different times for three different moves. This box of boys clothes sitting in front of me, for example, is labelled 12-18 months boys clothes…with a line through that with the new label saying 5yo boys clothes. I checked. It has boy clothes from all over the spectrum. This week I need to some how kick it into high gear and go through these boxes and sort, organize and be prepared to really get something done next week.
So yesterday , we did our normal morning routine and school, then I dove in. I put away two boxes of books and scrapbooks (yes that did take my a full hour because by law I had to look at each picture, comment on how cute everyone is and how they’ve grown and awww). Next came the boy clothes. I haven’t had a baby boy in 7 years. Yet somehow in the last three years and three moves those boxes have been opened and rearranged and in general messed up. When I packed the boxes originally I must have tried to organize them…right? maybe. huh. Why did I put in so many stained and overused things? Little babies are hard on their clothing. Oh look at these cute little darling little things. Next thing I know I have piles of clothing all over the music room, clothes on my lap, my head–what you don’t sort that way?
Meanwhile the rest of the house…OH MY. We rival tornadoes in our speedy and thorough destructive power. Every other room in the house looked like a toy box had exploded. Now that’s not totally fair. My bedroom for example wasn’t a mess it’s just that the entire car box had been dumped and then all the cars lined up and color coded.
At about 2 hours in to my huge project, precisely this point two things happened: my baby started crying and there was a knock on the door. AGGGHHHGHGH. I went from happily getting thigs done to failure ini the time it took for tthat knock to register. The 6-9 mo stack on my right side toppled into the “why are these girl clothes in here” pile, the 12 mo clothes on my left side were hastily placed in a box, the newborn stuff had to be moved just so I could stand up, and I still had some things on my head (the little hats, come on you do that too right?). I pick up the baby..thinking to myself…This is NOT FAIR. I have been working hard to keep my house clean and when someone randomly comes to my door they see this? It’s impossible to always keep my house clean. Like it or not some person is going to judge me based on how they see my house in this one little bit of time and it’s a disaster. I was not speaking to myself in any sort of kind, patient manner. I was tempted to start yelling at my children to suddenly become magical instant housecleaners. I was planning how to march whomever was at the door over to my sink, so they could see I’m not a failure of a housekeeper, of course had I done that they would have thought..well her sink’s not dirty but this lady is CRAZY. Anyway a few children had decided that the wash your own dishes thing only applied to meals, so snacks were free game… my sink wasn’t even shiny!
I sighed and put on my happy game face (the same face you use when you answer the phone right in the middle of a discussion with a child over the pen marks all over the piano). I opened the door and it was my 7yo son. “He stood there with a big grin on his face. I couldn’t open the back door mom he said.” Grinning that huge toothless grin of his.
oh. sure I was relieved, but I was also wondering how many gray hairs I had just given myself. What if it had been someone else? How can I really go through all these boxes without making a huge mess? Can I really just suffer through the mess and know that in the end it will be worth it, when at any moment I can have some random person knock on my door.
Someone coming to my door is kind of like me stepping on a scale. I’m going along fine with my day and suddenly WHAMMO reality hits with three little numbers and how others might view me and through their eyes I also see how *I* feel about where I am right now. It’s hard to get around the truth. It’s humbling.
I know my house is a mess because of the project I’m working on… underneath that it’s cleaner. I know the kitchen sink is shiny (generally). I am making progress. I am thinking more like a clean person. Yet it’s SO difficult when it doesn’t show when it counts. Who am I cleaning for? Why does it matter how other people see my house? I feel God wants me to have these children and I want others to see the joy I have in them. I want others to feel I’m parenting well so that they are more motivated to parent well and to do what God wants them to do. AND let’s face it, I don’t want them to think I’m the crazy lady with 9 out of control children, a messy house and a baby hat on my head.
I wonder if Mary had these kinds of thoughts when the shepherds and wise men visited her. I doubt she had planned to give birth to the Son of God in a cave with animals around her. Did she worry about what others thought of her abilities as a mother when she couldn’t even arrange an appropriate place for the Savior to lay his head? When the wise men gave her gold…was she struck by the contrast of the beauty of their offering in compared to the their humble circumstances? Was Joseph self-conscious about himself as a provider in the accommodations he had secured?
Yes I do think we should clean and present our best selves to the world, so they can see what a daughter of God can be and better appreciate the value of motherhood. BUT we can’t let the image we sow interfere with our motherhood or what God wants us to be. Some of the best or most important mothering moments are messy, unpleasant and not pretty. Some of the exact things that will help our children know they are loved and secure, or even some of the daily and very necessary things don’t show nicely through the judgement of an open door. God isn’t looking for a show house, he’s more interested in a workshop.
So I’m diving back in today and trying to speak kindly to myself. Hop back up, keep going. I’m trying to learn to be mindful of the judgement an open door brings and remember that “[the LORD seeth] not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.” 1 samuel 16:7