SAL-VA-TION: by grace

E-LEV-EN: children from 1984 to 2006

HOME-SCHOOL-ING: since 1990

DOWN-SYN-DROME: susie and gabe

GRAND-CHILD-REN: since 2010

FAITH-FUL-NESS: my steadfast rock, my biggest supporter, my leader, my friend, my love, my husband

Thursday, March 15, 2012

It's OK if you can't "do it all"

I can't tell you how many women have said to me, "I don't know how you do it all." I try to tell them, "I don't do it all, I can't do it all." But, they never seem to believe me (unless they marry my one of my sons and finally see for themselves how much I don't do!).

Somehow, having a big family makes women feel that you are doing something super human and accomplishing a lot more than they are.

Here are some facts from my world:
--The housekeeping suffers the most. Even if kids help clean (and they do) they're not very good or very motivated and with a lot on my plate it doesn't always get checked very well. We end up with too much dust, too many spiders, marks on walls, cluttered storage spaces, and very grimy windows. My consolation is knowing that when I do get to really cleaning it won't look any different than it would have if I'd been keeping up with a weekly regime.

--The laundry gets done, but not that well. I seldom spray stains. I tell the children they have to tend to items that need extra care--spray or soak it and add it to the appropriate load. I don't check pockets, that's the job of the wearer. Just this week I washed a leather wallet, a library card, and $3 that were left in a pocket. I don't iron (well, hardly ever), you can still be a nice person even if you're wrinkled. If it's really bad I toss it back in the dryer with the next load and try to catch it as soon as it's done.

--When we had a dozen or more in the house we lived with survival cooking. Meals were typically one-pot things geared toward ease and nutrition. I wasn't too interested in taste-appeal or variety. A side benefit is that everyone's cooking looks really good next to mine. My daughters-in-law haven't had to try to live up to Mom's home cooking!

--My bedroom is the dump spot. After a week of homeschooling, going to four basketball games, driving to piano lessons and appointments, and then having a group of thirty for some weekend event the house is usually in need of more attention than I can give it. Unfinished projects, school books, and any other clutter gets gathered up and dumped in my room where it sometimes remains for an embarrassingly long time.

--Household projects don't just get put on the back burner, they're not even on the stove. I have 2 sets of curtains that need to be hemmed. I put them up anyway, letting them bunch up on the counter above the window. They've been bunching there for 4 years now and I have no immediate plans to get to them. Add to the list painting projects, wall repair, wall and ceiling replacement and the back burners are all full to overflowing.

--Personal grooming can really take a hit. Just today I got through all of our morning routine, meals, schooling, Gabe-time, prepping for a birthday party, and out the door for our afternoon sports club before I realized that I hadn't combed my hair, or even looked in the mirror. I'd also forgotten to eat (now that rarely happens) and a little later in the afternoon I remembered that I hadn't put on deodorant either. You can guess how that realization came to me...

These things don't all get missed all the time. I pick up the pace in one area and another goes slack, then I pay some attention to the slack-off thing and something else lags. It's kind of a general cycle of moderate neglect.

I could do better. I know I'm a slow-paced kind of person. We all have our own internal clock and speedometer and sometimes I think mine is set just slightly above idle. I have to conscientiously tell myself to hurry and move faster if I want to get things done quickly. I'm just naturally too relaxed. The positive side is that I don't get too stressed about anything. The negative is that I probably am left with more things that I could be stressing about!

I like to think that the main reason for my "behind-ness" in these areas is that I'm investing my quality (and quantity) time in my family--husband, children/spouses, and grandchildren, tending to things/people of more significant value. I want my legacy with them to be relational, not temporal. I hope they relish spending an evening playing games with me more than the memory of my neatly hemmed and pressed curtains.

Some of the demands on my time are lessening as our family changes and fewer children are at home. My bedroom and closet are pretty normal looking right now and there's been a bit more variety and creativity showing up in our family mealtime. But by the time I'm actually "doing it all", I'll have an empty house and lots of quiet time to finally get to it least until the grandchildren come to visit!


Keith said...

That may have been my favorite post of yours, ever. Not because you were pointing out your faults, but because I guess as the kid you just assume your parents are how they are and don't really notice, so you can't talk about it. I think we may be able to appreciate your struggles more as time goes on/kids get added to our family, but for now we both love having many of your things on the backburner taken care of:) Thanks for the many smiles and cheers to getting closer to having the perfect house, meals, hair, etc!! BTW, I've found once all those things seem perfect something else won't, and that is life. But since you had me, raised me, and taught, I'm betting you know that. Thanks again for the post. I hope this goes through cause the words underneath me look like slsystatu and sissuta which just seems weird. Here goes...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for helping me feel better about my own lack of housekeeping priority. I think mine stems from the same reasoning as yours people and relationship above housekeeping. May be that's one of the reasons we like each other.

Even in the summer it suffers. I think the my kids are owed more of my time then because I work during the school year.

I hesitated to follow Keith's post. It was so lovely I almost wanted it to stand on it's own. But, then thought it would be nice for you to hear how you helped me, too.