The Picture Perfect House

I love my mother’s house.  No matter when you go to her house it is always warm and inviting.  It’s really like walking into a country craft store.  Rustic replica furniture neatly arranged.  Lovely groupings of antiques and faux antiques in every corner.  The finished basement offers a cozy sitting area complete with a wall quit and gas fine place.  Ahh….relaxing….refreshing…..the front cover of a County Living magazine……

 Growing up I remember every house we lived in was like that. .  Even with my little brother running around things still always seemed in order.  Mom was usually always doing something that pertained to “housework.” 

 Now thought as I look back I remember times when Mom would trade doing something fun for cleaning the house.  Don’t get me wrong, she was a very involved mother. We’d play ball outside and go for walks.  She was at every practice, lesson, and recital or game my brother and I had but when it came to “me time” she would more often than not sacrifice that in an effort to keep her house in order.  She’s like that to this day.  She had no hobbies to speak of. Her life revolved around “tasks”. Those tasks might have been house work, cooking, taking care of us kids or running my grandparents to and from appointments and stores.  She didn’t go out once a month to scrapbook with friends, or have a weekly date night with my dad.  There wasn’t anything she did just for her. 

 The first few years of our marriage I was the same.  I became almost a martyr for my tidy house.  I was following closely in my mother’s footsteps only I was taking things even further.  I would not go out until the house work was finished.  I come home from work and scrub and clean if I knew someone was coming over. (Particularly my mother in-law) why? Because I thought that having a clean house was what defined me as a good wife and eventually a good mother.  If my house was not clean, I was not fit.  And I don’t just mean clean, I mean spotless.  Baseboards washed down, light bulbs dusted, “the whole nine yards,” as they say. 

 Deep down I really do want a cozy, inviting house where everything is put a way and there is not a speck of dust or dog hair laying anywhere (not even under the sofa!). I do not like clutter or disorganization.  I want to have everything in its proper place.  Maybe one day when we only have one dog in the house (instead of three), or when I don’t have to devote 40 hours to my full-time job (even though I work from home I still have to commit time to my job) or maybe when the baby is grown up and gone my house will be the way I dream it to be.  But right now my house is lived in and it shows.  I realized several years ago that trading time with my husband doing things we enjoy together to clean was not healthy for our marriage or for me.  “Slaving” over house work did not win me any points or make me a better wife (and now mother).  I also see the value in some “me time”  even if it is just sitting on the couch reading a book.

 Come to my house today and you’ll currently find you are greeted by three noisy dogs.  They calm down after a few minutes but when you ring the door bell there is no mistaking that we have two beagles.  Not to mention the lab-basset mix that howls from her spot on the end of the sofa.  There’s probably some dog hair floating in the corner of the foyer and the reusable grocery bags from my last tip to the store are still on the bench.  I really need to get them to the car…maybe I’ll remember on the next trip out the door. 

 My tiny living room now has baby toys scattered about.  In my kitchen today you’ll find my bible bag on the kitchen table.  I have made a commitment to reading and praying first thing every morning and the kitchen table has become the best place for it.  If I take it up stairs then it gets forgotten in the morning and I “find” other things to occupy the first fruits of my day.  There’s also a baby swing that takes up space at the table and an Exersaucer that our son loves to sit in while mommy is cooking.  My husband doesn’t ever remember that I “gave” him a basket for his personal belongings so his wallet, belt and work keys are on the dishwasher. 

 Oh, and I just got my 50 pound bag of spelt grain and the storage container for it.  Don’t trip over that when you try to use the microwave.  It needs to go to the basement but my husband’s back is hurting and I twisted my neck yesterday so I guess that will wait a few days to be moved.  The counter currently has a batch of yogurt culturing, five or six plastic jugs from goat milk that have been sterilized, a rack full of drying dishes, another rack of drying nipples and baby bottles…..and although it’s 4am (well, it’s 5 now but it was 4 when I started) there’s a batch of oatmeal cookies on the cooling rack.  If I pull myself away from writing this I might make chocolate chip before I go to “work” at 7. 

 I almost forgot about the laundry room! Since its garden preparation time, there are two flats of seedlings on top of the dryer and a few other plastic containers of seedlings on the sink. 

 Get the hint? This house is not aesthetically inviting.  It is lived in.  We live here, life happens here. My house is only slightly disorganized (i know where everything is it is just not all behind closed doors) and by no means is it unsanitary or filthy but it is not a magazine cover, or at least no one that will win any awards. 

 I believe we must find balance in these household chores we have.  We cannot expect ourselves (or be expected) to be Supermom’s and do it all with 100% intensity and perfection. Sometimes it is hard for me to find a balance between keeping the house the way I really want it to be and just letting some things go and enjoying my family.  I run the vacuum (or sweeper as I call it) every day because of the dogs.  (I have to give props to the hubs because he runs it too). I Swiffer the floors down weekly at minimum but things like dusting, cleaning under the sofa and hand scrubbing floors are premium activities that happen if I can squeeze them in.  There are times when I feel guilty if I’m blogging or reading, even if it is a gardening book or my current ecourse book.  By some not-so-small miracle though, at the end of the day it all seems to come together and most nights I go to bed feeling like the house is in pretty good shape.  I do still freak out sometimes when my husband tells me someone is stopping over.  I have moments when I can’t bare looking at something sitting around and I lose my cool.  I am however doing better thanks to God’s grace. 

 In the end there is and always will be a price we pay. A sacrifice we will make for the things we need (or want) to do.  I will sacrifice early morning sleep to spend some quite time with the Lord. I will pay the price of a not so aesthetically pleasing kitchen in order to provide better quality food for my family.  I will pay the price of a mildly cluttered house so I can spend time with my husband and son and enjoy family activities.   

 What price do you pay for the things you feel are most important in your home?

Until next time,

Be Blessed!

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