Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Fresh routines, scowling at life, and how to use a rotten apple.

"Hi, my life is perfect -- and I'm skinny."

Sometimes it feels like everyone's life looks like the woman's pictured above: perfect and put together.  Everyone's except ours, of course.

When I first married Caleb, I had just graduated college and was working full time.  "Home" was the place you retreated to after work and relaxed in on the weekends.  "Housework" meant picking up your things and maybe wiping down the tiny bathroom, vacuuming every other week, and lugging a load of laundry to the laundromat once a week (every other week when you're extra poor).  Cleaning wasn't a big deal and, really, cooking wasn't much of a big deal either.  Caleb or I usually came home from work and would throw something healthy/relatively healthy together and often eat it on the couch with our feet kicked up.  It was dreamy!  For some reason, I didn't think that when I switched to full-time, stay-at-home wife-mom, it would be much of an adjustment.  That was silly.  Since my role as wife has taken a turn and my days have become almost, if not completely, home-obsessed, it has been too easy for me to get so caught up in my so-called important routine, that it blinds me from what wife life looks like when lived to the fullest.

Back in that little newly-married apartment, I longed to be Housewife -- not working outside of the home full-time.  And when I got pregnant, we moved (that's a story for another time), and I stayed at home, I realized: wow!  There's more to do in a home than I thought!  Our little house isn't a whole lot bigger than our apartment... it wasn't the size of our home that changed things.  It was BEING home that changed things.  Suddenly, there was absolutely no reason to throw together a "quick" dinner.  There was no reason to procrastinate laundry to the weekend.  And there was no tolerance of throwing something in a closet... because you are with that closet all.day.long.  "Sticking that in there for now" is not an option when you are keeping a home.  There's an entire shift in perspective -- your home is no longer your weekend getaway.  Your home becomes everything you live and breath and love and -- sometimes -- hate.  Your home is your workplace and  your vacation spot.  Your linens to wash and your Bed & Breakfast.  Your private cottage and your party spot.  It is, by very nature, you.  And you define it for your family.

By no means am I telling the working moms/wives out there that they do not care about their homes.  But I am saying that your home looks like something completely different when it is your job.  Sometimes I tire of my job. Thankfully, most of the time I love to feel my heart grow more dedicated to the task of loving my job.  Because loving my job means loving my life.  I love how the mundane task of washing the dishes can suddenly become an inspiring, fulfilling task.  I love how making the bed every morning becomes a habit, not a chore.  I love how a life made up of multiple "chores" becomes simply living life, getting things done, and investing yourself in the things (and people) that surround you.

In all of this learning, investing, and loving, there are times when you get stuck in a rut.  Everyday becomes a rush to clean up and make your house look perfect (and sometimes unreachably, unrealistically perfect).  Occasionally, this desire to make things perfect leads to discontent -- why can't we get a new rug?  why is everything so time consuming?  why can't my husband bring me a giant bouquet of fresh flowers after work everyday and then I could put them on our table and our house could be so amazing and our life would look like the fairytale it's supposed to look like?  You get the idea.  Sometimes you throw yourself into something so completely that you literally turn the tables on yourself and then wonder why it doesn't look right.  Well, sometimes all it takes is straightening up the table and spreading out a new table cloth.

Sometimes all it takes is a special dinner that was practical in no way.  It takes putting your routine on hold to "waste your time" by crafting a little card for your friend's baby shower.  It takes sewing a colorful flower to a pillow to "unnecessarily" brighten up a room.  It takes bearing so much fruit, that you don't care if it falls off your branches and lands on the ground.  This fruit-bearing illustration is one that Rachel Jankovic creates in her book Loving the Little Years*, but I think it's an illustration that applies to all of us, not just mommies.  She makes fruit-bearing sound so simple and sweet,

"...in some ways we have let our cultural admiration for efficiency get into places that it doesn't belong.  Speaking for myself, sometimes I am working away on something and just cannot shake the question 'Why am I doing this?  Is this a ridiculous use of my time? Should I be doing something that matters[...]?  But it is very freeing to laugh at yourself -- laugh when you know that apple you were working on may very well fall to the ground, and who cares?  But the chances are good that the more fruit you make the more fruit gets used.  The more you throw yourself into heavy branches, the more inviting the fruit, the more people it is likely to feed. [...]  Be bountiful with your fruit and free with it.  The only thing that you can know for certain is that God will use it."

There are times in my home when it feels like the fruit-bearing has become a lovely habit, then are times when those habits become so stagnant that they start tasting like sour grapes -- it must be the fluctuation of the seasons.

All tired metaphors aside, there's a little reminder that will hopefully refresh your day as much as it does mine.  Housewife, mom, woman, girl, boy, man, puppy -- whoever you are -- may your apples drop like rain and either feed or fertilize.  Don't be afraid to make an apple pie because it's not in your routine or it's a waste of time.  Just make it, open the windows if it burns... and then get back to work because your life and home need to look more idyllic than your Pinterest boards.  Just kidding.

*Rachel's book
*The blog

1 comment:

  1. Mmm. Very nicely said. I am still a working girl, but I can relate so much to this! I am learning the joys of not thinking of my home as a weekend gettaway or evening chill place (so true!!!), and my time of unemployment has helped that a lot. Also, I gave up on my life looking like a pinterest board long ago. And it is way more fun without the worry, come to find out.

    Also, I made a strawberry tart last night and opened the windows. It was definitely not a waste of time.