Gunilla Norris writes, "Prayer and housekeeping-they go together. They have always gone together. We simply know that our daily round is how we live. When we clean and order our homes, we are somehow also cleaning and ordering ourselves."
I read that this morning. It was ironic because just earlier I had been talking with two friends of mine, Janel and Laurie, about ordering and cleaning our homes, after we had a lovely morning run.
I was not a "neat-and-tidy-put-everything-in-it's-place" kind of girl in high shcool. Not even close. My mom always comments on the fact that every piece of clothing I owned would not be in my closet, but strewn all over my floor. I remember that. How could that not have bothered me? I would leave my late night snack of cereal in my room and have all these sticky old cereal bowls in my room. Gross. I was not a tidy person in college even. I think I began really enjoying ordering my stuff and cleaning after we had bought our first home. No, I take that back. I do remember being in college and living in an apartment with my sister and friends and thinking that I enjoyed cleaning my bathroom and wondering if it alright to clean on Sundays. (day of rest you know.) My point is that I have learned to love order and cleanliness. I have trained my eye to see the beauty in the simplicity that order brings. And it wasn't really until we had our own home, with our own stuff, that I had a desire to make it a beautiful place.
Now, come children.
"The clean becomes soiled, the soiled is made clean, over and over, day after day." -Simone deBeauvoir. That is where I am in my life right now. Laundry. Dishes. With children, come messes, and boy can they make a mess! I usually end the day by picking up, putting away, cleaning, ordering the craft closet, knowing full well that when they wake up the next morning, EVERYTHING will be out again. As I'm wiping down the table and Evelyn's highchair, I realize that the FIRST thing I do when I get her out of bed in the morning is put her in that highchair and give her a banana. It gets all over! But I still clean her seat every night. I really don't care because at least I know that for the most part, everything is put back in it's place to begin tomorrow. I like the feeling of waking up to a clean (not spotless) house. It does ease my mind knowing that I can begin the day feeling prepared, not like I'm ten steps behind.
However, I DO love to see my children make a mess. (Well, maybe not LOVE, but like anyways). I find joy seeing them create something. I know how much they love to paint, and seeing them squirt out ten different colors and use ten different paint brushes to create their masterpiece with, doesn't bother me. I know that I'll be cleaning up anyway, so they might as well have fun. I like watching George dump out all the puzzles even if he only puts one together- I count that as a success! I'm always reminding myself of their littleness and how fast it changes.
I've started linking my tasks that I do at home each day with prayer. I find it hard to always pray as much as I'd like to during the day, I find comfort knowing that I can be offering up the things I need to be doing anyway, as a prayer. Lately, when I fold the laundry I will pray for the person who's article of clothing is in my hand. When I come to towels and sheets, I pray to be open to God's will with buying a house.
This is going to sound silly, but a pivotal event in my life was when I stopped apologizing when there was a mess. You know what I mean, the "come on in, but don't look at the floor, I haven't had a chance to clean it....." or "please excuse the dishes in the sink, I usually ALWAYS have them put away....." It's real for a house with children to be messy.
As with everything I'm realizing that I need to search for a balance. Clean, messy, order, chaos, are all part of my life. And I love my life with our children. I often need to remind myself that I will ALWAYS have to clean a house. Our children however won't be little and messy forever.
Although, I am considering posting this all over the house:
1. If you take it out, put it back.
2. If you open it, close it.
3. If you throw it down, pick it up.
4. If you take it off, hang in up.