Monday, October 13, 2008

Is your house organizingly empty or cluttered?

Most of my evenings (of course, after we put Aleeyah to bed) consists of checking email/blogs and possibly replying then or I will decide they can wait until the morning. I try at least once a week, I check my logs to make sure there isn't any children that I write to who has been overdue for a letter, postcard, or something of the sorts. If there are then I will take some time to write. Then once I am done with those things, I reward myself with a nightly bath. I use this time to indulge in reading a book, a magazine that my mil gave me, or even a pamphlet of sorts while the water is running. I spend the next 15-20 minutes involved in reading and spending a little Abbie time. It's nice. It's relaxing. More importantly, it's void of a 3 year old little girl splashing water at you or attempting to wash your hair.

Last night, I was reading a magazine, Ladies' Home Journal, that my m-i-l left over at our house just a couple of weekends ago when they were here visiting. I enjoy reading her hand-me-down magazines. They are home type magazines and I like to look at them for decorating, craft, and food ideas. Because I didn't purchase them, I feel comfortable not reading every page and only look at the pictures if I feel like it. I also love that the reuse of the magazines works well with the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle theme that we as a family are trying to adopt.

I came across an article titled "Nobody's perfect-and Thank Heaven for That". The picture is what caught my attention the most. It is a picture of a lady standing on a ladder trying to trim a hedge. At first glance, you see this woman trimming a very large hedge in a tear drop shape. The yard is green and mowed. The hedges are clean. She is wearing a sky blue dress that has 2 strings that come to a perfect bow in the back and finishes her look with some sandals. Her ponytail is perfect and her roots don't appear to need touched up. You can only see the back of her, but she appears to be a mom that has it together. Why do I say a mom? I don't know for sure. The yard isn't cluttered by toys. I don't see any kids at the bottom of the latter shaking it and yelling, EARTHQUAKE!

Maybe it's just because I can relate to her. As a woman, a wife, and a mom, sometimes I feel like we are expected to do such things. Like we aren't allowed to put on our clothes that we have worn over and over while painting the house and tennis shoes that are caked with mud from all the times that we picked up our children and walked through the mud-opposed to just letting our children attempt to jump it like we did. Instead we feel that we have to put on our cutest, little sundress and coordinating shoes while we help with the yard work so our husbands won't have to do it when they get home.

I know that there are many of you saying right now, "I would just put on the grubby clothes", but isn't there a little piece inside of you that hopes no one will see you so that you don't destroy your womanly or cute mom status?

So I read the article. It starts out saying....

The house looks thrillingly perfect. The burnished blank horizon of the coffee table is disrupted only by the slender stalk of narcissus rising from a dish of glass pebbles. The spotless cream of the sofa with coordinating pillows matches cream-colored walls graced by polished squares framing black-and-white photographs of immaculate children.

Of course, they're not my children. My children are here in the living color, sprawled out next to me on a couch decorated with cracker crumbs, in a sunlit living room strewn with colored pencils and drawings of planet Zort. The kids are pressing their dirty, bare feet on me and screaming with laughter while I beg, ''Give me two more minutes with the Pottery Barn catalog-please.'

I thought this was a very funny visual. Because I too have sat and looked at the pictures in the Pottery Barn catalog-imagining my life in those rooms. The baskets are neatly placed on the shelves and perfectly labeled by tiny chalkboards that lay perfectly straight on each basket. I imagine if the baskets were filled-there would be no Lego's where the Barbies are suppose to go. There wouldn't be any Playdoh mashed in between all the little tiny pieces of straw-making it impossible to get clean. Those black-and-white pictures would be replaced with my kids from the time we went on the most amazing vacation to a secluded island. The first picture would be of my daughter standing in the sand just far enough away to see the ocean with a glimpse of the sun sinking into the water. She would be clothed in a white sundress and barefoot with the wind just slightly blowing her hair-just enough to capture the perfect moment. The moment that you can share with someone else and say, "Look how we have it together".

But our lives in the Hamblin are not that. Mine, as a mom, is more like what the author shares about her own life. There are picture frames on my walls that are empty. I couldn't begin to imagine how much food is caked into the carpet. The house isn't always clean. The beds aren't always made. My kid's hair is crazy from sleeping last night and she is still wearing her PJs.

One of the things that I loved this weekend was my time I was able to spend with my friends, Kandi and Greg. Kandi has a humor about her that is so honest and I can't help but feel comfortable about my sometimes un-confident ability to parent Aleeyah. You know those times, when you just don't know that you are doing the right thing or you just have no idea which choice is best for them. During our time together, we confessed some of our "mom moments" and nothing could have made me feel more relaxed. In fact the next day, we laughed about our children playing under the table together at the restaurant and wondered at what point we would find them across the room yelling for us. I felt confident is saying, "Yes, my kid is crazy sometimes because she is a kid and there are times I just don't want to control it."

So this morning, I look at my daughter who needs a bath, some clothes on for the day, and has a bad case of bed head. I look at my house-cluttered with a pile of laundry from emptying the luggage, a bowl of Spaghetti-O's on the couch from Aleeyah's breakfast, and the endless mountain of toys in Aleeyah's room that desperately needs to be cleaned up and reorganized. And I say-you know, it's not the most important thing in life. It's really not and I guarantee that when I do clean it up, I won't look like the cutest mom ever. My hair will be in a crooked pony tail with hair falling down, I will probably be wearing a t-shirt and shorts, and my toe-nails will still need to be repainted.

The author of the magazine article also points out a rhetorical question from Albert Einstein-"If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?"

My house is lived in, my child is in color-complete with orange spaghetti stains, and I am a wife and mom that isn't always put together.

I don't believe I want an empty house filled with empty baskets.


The Leeth family said...

This is incredible Abbie!! I had company this weekend in and out of the house and they just smiled when they saw the couch covered in unfolded laundry! But I thought it was better to get to see friends then sit at home folding laundry! I am cluttered, yet organized in my own mind! Messy, yet beautiful to my husband! And it makes me melt when my little boys asks why I am putting on my make up, because he thinks I am prettier without it! Although, getting dressed up and having everything in it's place makes me feel good for a minute. I seem to lose my cool when it starts to get messy again... so I have found life a lot more fun when clutter is present and we can just relax amongst it!

Britt said...

I have empty

BUT- the upstairs is totally kids-only space.

I think I have both going on. You would find that everything has it's place at the end of the day...however, you won't catch me all dolled up.

Jill Foley said...

I really enjoyed reading this. I have to say that I struggle with this alot, but mostly because I know that my husband appreciates (and deserves) to come home to a house that isn't full of chaos. And so daily I try to pick up the house and freshen up myself before he comes sets a tone for the rest of the evening. If most of my housework is done before dinner, then I can concentrate on family time and time with hubby after the girls go to bed.

In some ways I feel like I'm trying to be a 1950s wife, but I don't go so far as to put bows in our hair and serve my man a drink by the fireplace! But I do try to go the extra mile....I look at it as part of my job as a stay at home mom. And it's a way of me thanking him for allowing me to stay home and raise the girls.

But then there are times when I don't have it all!! Like this week! And because I have high expectations of myself, when I don't have it all together, I feel very down and very stressed.

But life (especially with children) is matter how hard you try to keep it organized! My new idea is to put away (hide in the basement) half of the toys and books because then there will be half as much to pick up every day!

Abbie H. said...

Yeah, I struggle with that too. I always try to make sure that they house is clean and such before Chris gets home. I don't want him to ever feel like he has to do any type of chores after working all day.

I guess my point is more that shouldn't ever feel that we have to be at that perfect status. Things aren't always going to be just so and that's okay. It doesn't make us any less of a mom, a woman, or a wife.

Susanne said...

I so identify with this post! I love your blog. You reminded me that I need to send my Compassion kids letters soon.

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