Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Lie #2

What would you do if your doorbell rang right now? (Go have one of your kids ring it, just for effect...) What if one of your kids looked out the front window and said, "Hey Mom, Mrs. So-and-so just pulled up in front of our house!" (Have one of them do this right now, just for kicks...)

OR- what if I called you from my car and said I was in the neighborhood and I'd be stopping by in the next 5 minutes, because I have this great book I wanted to drop off for you to take a look at. Don't worry, I'm just popping in for a second! See you in a few!

Did your chest get a little tighter just thinking about it? Did your eyes just dart around the room noticing the piles? Did your mind's eye just venture to the entryway, leading into the living room and visualize what a visitor would see... and cringe?

If you're like me, you'd dash around the house while calling out commands to the kids:

"Pick your stuff up off of the stairs!"
"Quick, put the dogs outside!"
"WHO left this on the couch??"
"Someone go make sure the downstairs toilet is flushed!"
"Oh, my GOSH, look at the living room floor!"
"Hoist the mainstay!"
"Swap the poopdeck!"
"This isn't a museum, people, let's MOVE!" (:::channeling "E.R."::::)

And why is that? Because, you may believe...

Lie #2: Everyone Else's House is Cleaner Than Yours

Why do we think that? We've been to friends' houses and to us, it looks perfect. Or maybe it was perfect. Nevermind that she was still breathing hard when you got there, from hurriedly getting it cleaned up before you arrived...

I remember a couple of years ago my dear father-in-law stopped by for a visit. He was sitting in our living room enjoying a nice glass of iced tea, contentedly looking around. Finally he said, "Cyndi, you have such a nice home. It is really beautiful." I was in the midst of smiling modestly and graciously when my sweet son piped up and said, "You should have seen her when you called and said you were coming! She said, 'Kids! Quick! Clean up the house! Grandpa's coming!' She was freaking out! "


The truth is, we live in a home... with kids. Not only that, but our kids go to school here as well. When I first started homeschooling, I thought about how when I had taught public school, we all left the building by 4:00-ish and then the cleaning staff came. The next morning the restrooms were alway nice, fresh-smelling and scrubbed. My boards were clean, the trashcans were empty, the cafeteria tables and kitchen were clean and ready. The hallways were shiny and polished each morning. How does this happen in schools across America? Besides the fact that there's a whole separate STAFF assigned to that job, it happens because for a few hours every single day, everyone vacates the premises and the staff restores things to their original, upright positions. While the kids are creating disorder in another environment (home) the environment in which they created disorder all day (school) is being set back in order! But for homeschoolers, it all happens here. And it doesn't have to look like it doesn't.

I don't know about you, but I don't have a cleaning staff. We don't leave while the cleaning staff sets things back in order. We are here creating the messes, and then somewhere built into our life we set about cleaning up the messes. There's almost never a time in our day-to-day life when it's all done and perfect. We are always somewhere in the creating messes-cleaning up cycle when the doorbell rings. We just are. And so are you. So are all of us.

Awhile back my daughter said, "Mom, I'm so glad we don't have the kind of house where there are certain towels we can't use." I knew what she meant- guest towels. We certainly don't have any of those! But in my mind I thought, "Oh, honey, there certainly are towels you shouldn't use! If it's so stiff and dirty you can't dry your hands on it... don't use it!" (Sometimes we forget to change out the towels in the downstairs half-bath. Ick.) But I loved what she was saying... that she's comfortable. And that's what I want for my kids. I don't know anyone who grew up in a perfect, neat-as-a-pin-all-the-time house and really has fond memories of it. Or really has fond memories of their mother! I want my kids to enjoy living here, feel comfortable in our home, and enjoy their mom in the process. I've been looking for balance in this area for years, because having the perfectly set-in-order house can become an area of bondage for me if I let it.

SO, if you are reading this completely aware of the messes in your house, but picturing mine being serene, orderly, perfectly-decorated and smelling like Pine-sol, stop believing the lie! And if you are sitting there serenely, in your orderly house which does smell like Pine-sol, enjoy it. It may not last long... ;)


marmeesez said...

really so true, and really well written. I had to laugh over the story with your son, oh how they expose us sometimes!

Jenny in Ca

Michelle Pendergrass said...

I SO needed that today.


Thank you!!

Jessie's parents said...

Our house is so lived in. And even though it bugs me at times, I do love it. I want people to feel like they can sit on the couch and put their feet on the coffee table when they come here. Although, most of the time, they would have to put the cushions back on the couch before they sat down! When company is coming, I yell "FIVE MINUTE TIDY!!!" And we all scramble for five minutes trying to get things in order and the powder bath wiped down. It works. The kids think it is very funny to run around like chickens with our heads cut off and it really is amazing at the progress we can make in just 5 minutes! God revealed to me years ago that I was causing fellow Christian women to stumble by always presenting the squeaky clean home. So, I stopped and it has been very freeing!


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