Blazing Trails

Not quite sure where this one is going, so just hang on for the ride.

I was involved in a conversation today that reminded me of the great strides I’ve made in my mad housekeeping skills.

In other words, I suck at this housewife gig.

Its one of the things that gnaws at me. I have, and hopefully, will not continue to, serve up a myriad list of reasons why my house is pretty much always in a state of disarray:

– I’m exhausted from having so many kids
– The kids undo anything I do anyway
– I don’t know how to properly organize the place
– I don’t know what to keep and what to get rid of
– I’m scared to death to get rid of something I might need
– I hate the idea of wasting time or money on any of the above

But one of the first, and what I’ve used as my scapegoat answer is:

– My mom worked, and I was never properly taught how to care for a house.

Way to lay the blame on someone else there, Annie. I’m the youngest of seven, by seven years, and to say that I was a bit of a surprise would be an understatement. My mom had returned to work when my sister was in kindergarten, and was NOT expecting to start the baby thing all over again.

Then I showed up.

My mom actually changed careers, going to school while working, so she could become certified to teach so that she’d be on my schedule.

And I wonder why she didn’t explain the finer points of setting up a cleaning schedule for me?

When I thought about my grandmother, I realized that my mom was blazing her own trail, too. My grandmother was a nurse anesthetist, with two girls. My mom was home with five boys and one girl aged ten and under.

I’m going to guess that her mom didn’t have any “Boys Mean Noise and How to get Mysterious Stains Out of Your Carpet” sessions with my mom, either. She did the best that she could with what she had. My grandmother’s mother? She immigrated from Ireland, so she probably saw a daughter who had all sorts of opportunity that she didn’t have. Grandma Anne blazed her own trail, too.

So, where does this leave me? Realizing that I’ve got some real work ahead of me. Balancing six kids and the house and the laundry and food prep and expectations and homeschooling, all those things that I’ve been called to do…they can be done. It might not be Southern Living standards (though darn wouldn’t I love to be sitting on my front porch swing with the ceiling painted blue and a mint julep in my hand while I chat with my lovely neighbors whilst dressed in Ann Taylor. Okay, I actually could do all of that except without the porch and I’d be crazy to wear Ann Taylor in the cul-de-sac), but I can get it done.

I have a good friend who is awesome at taking a long hard look at a problem and figuring out where things go wrong and the concrete things that can be done to fix them. I’ve made about three thousand (give or take) charts, lists and the like for this job, but I have a nasty habit of returning to my old, nasty habits and giving up on systems before giving them a real shot because they’re not perfect.

Oh, perfection, how you are out to destroy me.

But, its getting late and I hope to get sleep tonight, so I’ll wrap this up. I, like everyone else, have my own trail to blaze, life to live, problem to conquer. This is life. God didn’t make this life to be easy. He didn’t set it up to be impossible, either, but I do think that He requires us to get up off our duffs and roll up our sleeves and attack the mission that He gave us. And, thankfully, we have His Grace to help us do this– we are not given something we cannot do, and if it seems like we can’t, then we might be doing it wrong, or need to pull in the help of another person, or something like that.

After all, St. Anne wasn’t able to explain to the Blessed Mother how to raise the Savior.

God provides Grace, as well as information, and there is so much out there to help me get going that there’s almost no excuse. I just have to remember that there is something as too much information, and that its more important that I get up and take care of my job and figure it out as I go along, rather than have the best organizational plan on my Pintrest board. After all, when Jesus was born, St. Joseph didn’t whip out his iPhone and Google “crib alternatives” to come up with the idea of laying the babe in an animal’s feeding troth. God provides. What a comforting thought that is.

And on that note, I’m heading to bed, with too much to do around here, but with the hope that maybe, just maybe tonight will be the night I get at least close to a full night’s sleep, so that I do have more energy to attack the job.

But if I don’t, at least I have a good excuse.

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About Anne McD @ourlittlenthouse

Hey! I'm a stay at home, Catholic mom of 7, former homeschooler, now public schooler. Welcome to our crazy. Please excuse the noise.
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8 Responses to Blazing Trails

  1. Kathryn Biel says:

    I often beat myself up because my house is not clean or up to Pottery Barn standards. But then, occasionally, I have a moment of clarity amongst the clutter that makes me realize my house is so much more…it is a home. My kids have virtually full access to everything. Yes, things get broken. Things get run down. We will need to replace carpeting (I blame the pregnancy hormones for picking ivory carpeting for all the upstairs). We’ve been here over 6 years. Things are still unfinished. They will be for a while. There is dust. I try to keep on top of schmutz on the floor (with the vacuum, but not necessarily the mop).

    I choose for my house to be this way. I could make cleaning my priority. I could clean the house top to bottom on a weekly basis. But it would make me very unhappy. I would yell (much more than currently). I would be cranky and grumpy and generally in a foul mood. Cleaning could be the most important thing. But it is not. Making scrapbooks to capture our lives together is more important. Reading with my kids is more important. Teaching my kids how to be responsible for their own stuff is more important. Letting my kids take over space to build a fort, make a project, put on a play is more important.

    So, no, my home will not be featured anywhere any time soon. I try to do SOMETHING everyday, just to keep the health inspectors away. Will it all be done at the same time? Doubtfully. Is the household happier this way? Most definitely.

    • So, so true! I read somewhere where someone made the point that the reason why we keep house is for the benefit of the people living in it– not despite them. I could do better, just in regards to the basic stuff, though. I’m not looking for perfection (most of the time!), but clean dishes are a good thing. 😉

  2. Erin says:

    Try creating a routine that incorporates a few of your “bad habits”. You’ll always fall back on our instincts and if you try to make a schedule for anything while excluding them you’re bound to fail. I know I procrastinate, badly, and especially when there are papers to grade. So I take that procrastination and I do laundry, or wash windows, or vacuum. It’s not perfect but, the papers eventually get graded and the laundry gets done. And remember at the end of the day all the essentials will be done and tomorrow is a new day of possibility.

  3. Wendy in VA says:

    Good post. I think lots of us are in the same situation — not exactly sure how to do all of this. You probably already know about her, but Auntie Leila at Like Mother, Like Daughter is the best at making you feel like you can do this and at showing you how. I wish she would write a book already! LOL

  4. Thanks for sharing this! This is the mental mode I’ve also been in lately. I also appreciated what Kathryn wrote above. This was a little bit of what I needed to read this afternoon… as I glance past the laptop and see the remains of a Jenga block castle-fortress “thing” on the floor in the background 🙂

  5. I could have written every word of this. Well, the part about being overwhelmed with domestic stuff, not the beautiful spiritual insights. I’ve been thinking about this kind of thing a lot lately. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.

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