Today I want to write about something that each of us hold near and dear to our hearts - housework. No kidding, I want to talk about housework.
Lately I have been struggling with the thought of other people seeing my messy house and the judgment that I receive as a result of it. For those of you who don't know my in-laws, specifically on my mother-in-law's side, they might as well be professional cleaners. Each of them has a house cleaner than the next. They spend their free time, amongst all of the other activities they participate in, cleaning and scrubbing their homes and maintaining immaculate living spaces. They have the work ethic of a draft horse and the endurance of one also. I admire how well they keep up their homes but don't aspire to reach that level. While my husband did receive the work ethic and endurance of his family members, he didn't necessarily receive their love or need for a spotless home. Thankfully.
I come from a family that cleaned the house best when we knew mom was coming home from a business trip, right before a party or when we were all grounded. Most of the time we were forced to clean our rooms because our mother decided to literally remove every single thing off of our shelves and out of our drawers and put it all into one large pile on our floor, after which we were not allowed to leave our room until she could see the floor again and everything was neatly put away and sorted. Needless to say, I wasn't born with an inherent gene to clean either.
I also come from a family that cherished nap-time, rest and relaxation. Our form of relaxing was not doing one single thing. We would order a pizza or chinese food and watch a movie. My in-laws form of relaxing is prepping the horses and camping gear and heading out for a weekend filled with home-cooking, horseback riding and good times.
The further I get into my marriage, the more I notice these differences. The closer I get to having our child, the more I think about them.
I've been reading a lot about the Proverbs 31 woman and I'm noticing that I have a few shortcomings in the Proverbs 31 woman category. First of all, I don't like to wake up when it is dark outside. Second, my husband does all of the outside work and I hate yard work plus I have terrible allergies. I could probably manage to lift a few weights to tone up my arms and.... I received a sewing machine for Christmas in 2012 and have yet to take it out of the box. You see where I'm going with this...I'm falling short in a couple of areas and lacking motivation to change in some others.
Right now, we are in the process of an addition and a lot of comments we receive go to the tune of "yeah, you guys need more space to clean...", "how are you going to keep up on your housework?", and "I have a hard time keeping up with my own house, I don't know how you are going to handle more space..." Are you sensing a running theme? It seems that a lot of people seem to have a concern about how well I am going to manage my home and chores.
Why do we do this? Why do we feel that it is acceptable to cast judgment on how other people run their home and do their housework? Why does it bother others so much that Jake and I live in our home and quite frankly, the mess doesn't bother us like it bothers them all the time. While I am coming upon the nesting phase of my pregnancy and realize that certain things do need to be done to prepare for the baby, such as cleaning closets, I also need to remember that we all live in our homes and once the baby gets here that won't be any different. In fact, I'll probably want to spend less time cleaning and more time snuggling and cuddling and it won't be the end of the world.
I know in my heart that God has called our family to hospitality and I also realize that that means my house may go in waves of organization and disarray and I am working with Him on accepting that fact. My sister, brother-in-law, niece and nephew, and older brother just left last weekend after a three week stay and I have been spending the week getting my house back in order. Yes, it takes work and it takes time but I would not trade those three weeks of dishes and toys everywhere for anything. That three week time period is not something I will likely ever have again with them. So yes, we were hospitable but at the same time, we all just lived in our house like one big family. We cleaned in moderation and had quality family time. I believe that part of being hospitable is releasing the reigns of how one can live in your house. If they feel like it is their home or their space also, you are doing something right during the time that they are there.
God is showing me that there are times when I need to be more like Mary and less like Martha and vice versa but He is also calling me to drop my guard and let you all know that I struggle in this because I must not be the only one. I humbly admit to all of you that my house is not kept clean all the time and there are times when I just don't feel like keeping up with it. I also admit that I am guilty of allowing other peoples' opinions of my housekeeping effect my self-esteem. I admit that the thought of any of my in-laws coming over prompts stress and a swift cleaning because of fear of judgment and I also admit that I clean better under pressure.
Today I commit to acknowledging that this is a growing area for me and I promise to remember that "we all live in our homes." That line was said to me by a girl whom I had never met before but was coming to my house to pick something up and when I apologized that my house would be a mess when she got there she said, "Oh please, we all live in our homes. Don't even worry about it." I will forever be grateful to her for that because it is a constant reminder of life and mess in moderation for me.
So going forward, while I may not be a Proverbs 31 woman in every area of my life, I'm going to try to focus on the laughing at the days to come and setting upon my work vigorously to the best of my ability. Some days that work may be for my job, others it will be play-time, and others it will be house work, but always it will be for the honor and glory of my God and my family.