(Warning: this post is just me rambling...more of a journal entry than a blog post...and is certainly not intended to demean anyone else in any way. Just a collection of my random thoughts looking inward at myself, not out...)
Lately....OK, maybe not lately, maybe, since I can remember, I've been feeling stretched to the limit. I'm a 'list' type of a girl, and my To-Do list is never even CLOSE to done - in fact, I add things much faster than I'm able to check them off. Not because I waste time - just because life is very busy. Serving in the community, in the church (as YW President and a visiting teacher), on the PTO and trying to keep politically active, in addition to exercise, personal meditation and scripture study, a part-time job, medical education and simply keeping the children clean, clothed, fed, read to, homework done, piano lessons and practice and the house in order (loosely speaking), leaves very little time for anything else. I can't remember the last time I read a book for leisure (aside from with the children, of course), watched television or a movie, or did anything else 'unneccessary' (unless you count pinterest or blogging. oops). I can't go to bed later or get up earlier without paying for it throughout the day (if I don't get at least 6 hours of sleep a night, no one's happy!)
I grew up in a very busy home, and vowed I would raise a 'simpler' family. So, with my children still young and things already feeling out of control, I know I need to scale back. But I'm having a hard time knowing what to cut out. I certainly can't cut out church. I should probably continue feeding the children. And I have already kept the children out of extracurricular activities such as dance/sports/etc. So it's been a very difficult decision. But, after a lot of thought and careful consideration, I have decided/discovered one - no, TWO things I can - and will - let go. Namely, 1) a perfect and beautiful house and 2) my concern with how others (outside my family) view/perceive/think of me.
I don't think I'm overly concerned or preoccupied with number 2. I don't obsess about what people think of me at all. But I started realizing that many of the things that take SO much of my time do boil down to 'keeping up appearances'. I spend a LOT of time trying to keep my house spotless. (I'm not saying it IS spotless - ever! But that is my constant goal and I spend a LOT of time each day cleaning! And a lot more of my energy worrying about the parts that aren't spotless.)
I truly believe that an orderly home is important in maintaining the Spirit, keeping the peace, etc. But my children certainly don't care whether or not the windows are smudge-free or the walls and baseboards are freshly wiped down. Actually - they DISlike it, because it means I'm more likely to nag them to keep their fingers off. They don't care that I have the latest cute, homemade Valentine wreath on my door or a picture-perfect collage of photos on the wall or display on my bookshelf. Again - they don't like it when I've recently arranged the bookshelf, because it's often less functional/harder for them to put away. What they need and want from me far more than cute home decor or cleanliness is time. Time SITTING with them reading, playing, talking, and listening. Looking into their eyes while they speak, rather than nodding and saying "uh-huh" as I'm focused on scrubbing or cooking.
Lately, I've found myself discovering all sorts of incredible/clever/thrifty/neat ideas on pinterest and other blogs, and have seen pictures of so many immaculate and beautifully decorated homes, and I've been constantly adding things to my never-ending 'to-do' list, spending lots of time and energy thinking of ideas, and even sacrificing precious time with my children to do so. (for the few minutes that they'll allow me to sit at the computer uninterrupted...so, not too much time.)
Don't get me wrong - I LOVE a clean house, and I ADORE beautifully decorated homes! And I want one. Badly. But this is where I realize that I'm starting to sacrifice what I want MOST for what I want now. "Most" being a happy family, time with my precious children while they are young, strong relationships with them that will carry through the teenage years....etc. "Now" being a beautiful, perfect home. And other people thinking my home is beautiful and perfect.
Soooooo, I guess what I am saying is this: If you happen to come over and see fingerprints on my windows / no pictures hung on my wall (even though I've lived in this house nearly 2 years) / spots in my microwave / toys on the floor / pictures on my refrigerator / etc. it's because I'm too busy loving on my children to notice or care. If it bothers you, feel free to pick up a sponge - or look the other way. Because I know that in a few short years, my 'nest will be empty' and I'll be hanging pictures, making Valentine's wreaths and cleaning/decorating to my little heart's content. But right now, I've got more important things to do.