dragging my feet

In the past few weeks we’ve dealt, and are still dealing with: a major plumbing snaffu-resulting in a new toilet and clean carpets, my oven stopped working, the A/C is fritzy, my husband was out of town for a week, there is still leaking under my kitchen sink and in my bathroom…and we went on vacation. BUT we’ve had a few miracles as well. I’m not exactly sure which is more miraculous.

First, we drove six hours straight to our vacation destination without stopping. Think about that for a minute… what are the chances? How did it happen that not one of my children needed a potty break? How did the almost 1yo make it? Sure we kept handing back food and drinks. Yes we did play games and sing-I understood it as mandatory to sing when driving into the state of Oklahoma. We did see lots of pretty scenery. We drove through Paris (Texas). This was all without movies and…. air conditioning, because just to continue the trend of everything breaking, our van’s A/c was out, and though my husband and the guy at the place were working on it up until 3 hours AFTER we planned to leave…it wasn’t working. This was no small miracle.

Second, we left our house clean. Not just no dirty dishes clean (which wasn’t literally true anyway-someone had a snack in the last few minutes and put a bowl in the sink—SHAME). We’re talking ovens cleaned, refrigerator cleaned, floors vacuumed, very little dirty laundry, no boxes at all in my bedroom…clean. All it took at the end was when we were ready to get into the car, we first had a five minute pick up. That’s it. I vacuumed for five minutes and my cleaning crew cleaned. It felt amazingly wonderful! I didn’t realize how great it would feel at 1:30am when we arrived at home way past exhausted, to walk into a clean space…an immediately muck it up with all our bags.

Now we have a beautifully clean oven and refrigerator, lots of laundry, and a messy house. But we did have fun at the lake on vacation, and we will get this house back into shape…soonish.

This morning as I was considering just how much I have to clean I saw this neat video This is a new kind of graffiti. It’s called reverse graffiti. Artists are making pictures by cleaning. Maybe I should artistically clean my home..clean spots and parts in a way to make the Mona lisa in clean spots between the toys and laundry. I could say it’ll never last with 9 little people running around, but what do I know. Stranger things have happened. We did drive 6 hours straight.

What struck me about this kind of graffiti was the tagline “cleaning is art”. Is it? It is somewhat creative. It involves organization and making something that wasn’t there before. It does involve creating beauty. It struck at my need to seek to see cleaning as something different than … cleaning.

In addition to my obvious continuing need to clean, I was reminded of why I need this blog to continue…because…I don’t like cleaning (It’s true Cyndi). I like living in a clean home. I like knowing where things are and having clean clothes and dishes to work with…but the actual cleaning? no. I’ve heard rumors of people who mystically enjoy the cleaning process.

Now I enjoy exercising…running even. I enjoy it. I enjoy sweating, I enjoy working out really hard and I enjoy being sore.

I’ve wondered about people who don’t like exercising and wondered why I do. Is it genetic? Is it solely a habit? nature or nurture?

I’m asking, because I’m REALLY hoping to get to a point in which I like cleaning. I’m facing the fact that I may never get there. I know cleaning IS good (“>FamilyWork and just basic health). I know a huge part of parenting is cleaning. With 9 children, cleaning is a large part of my life and it will be for a long time…actually forever. Maybe part of what I need to change is my attitude about duty itself.

I recently watched speech by Dirty Jobs guy Mike Rowe talks about our attitude toward work and the fallacy of “do what you love”.

It’s not that I don’t love motherhood (I don’t give my exhausted feelings much weight-when I feel tired of motherhood I’m actually just tired). I do love motherhood. I love children. The wonder, the cuteness, their funny sayings, how they learn and grow… I love taking care of them, teaching them, nurturing them… I just don’t necessarily love all parts of motherhood (the throw up parts, the poop parts, endless dishes and laundry…) the dirty jobs. Perhaps, I’ve let too much of the world creep in with my attitudes towards work and duty. Did Caroline Wilder feel like she “deserved a vacation”? Not that vacations with children provide for a lack of work ;). I went into motherhood knowing some aspects…I KNEW I wouldn’t get much sleep, for example. I had long remembered my mother’s story of waking up one morning and feeling great and asking my dad what was different. He told her it was probably her first full night sleep in 18 years (her youngest was 4 at the time). I KNEW that. It’s not like I didn’t know there’d be diapers and messes. I did. Kinda. Theoretically. Book learning doesn’t always transfer.

I know this isn’t the biggest problem in the world. Whether or not my floors are clean doesn’t impact world peace. Yet, I also know that motherhood done properly does impact world peace. BUT what if everyone grew up in a loving environment? What if everyone grew up with someone who wanted the best for them, encouraged their education, development, health… What would that world look like? What if every politician and military leader had been truly loved as a child. (Not loved in a way that prepared them to lead by teaching them to kill so others would fear them-but really sweetly loved) Would they act differently? Who’s to say my floors don’t matter then. Who’s to say that seeing an adult take over and do what needs to be done doesn’t build trust and security in a child?

I’m more likely to clean when I focus on the trust, health, beauty and character I’m building. So while the to do list reads of floors and laundry and messes to be rid of… the real goal is still lesson number one. love.

Which doesn’t get me out of cleaning up, chore charts and diapers at all.

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