Friday, January 13, 2012

Competative homemaking

Sometimes I feel this undercurrent between mothers, an unspoken rivalry. Sure we are friendly and want the best for each other, but we sort of wish that the women next to us wasn't more organised then us, or didn't keep a neater house, or wasn't so incredibly crafty. If you happen to be the most organised, patient and "successful" mother in your circle of friends, it might not bother you. But, if you are like me, it can really become grating. I see other mothers doing it to themselves and that is what saddens me the most. To me they seem to be pressuring themselves to be "better" homemakers and their value is all wrapped up in this endeavor. I am not being critical. I have to fight the ugly green monster myself. When someone posts a photo of their latest homemade creation, I feel a twinge of bitterness rise up within me. I look around at my kitchen counters ornamented with dirty dishes, the floors littered with dog hair and paper scraps and my piles of laundry in every stage of laundering and wonder "What is wrong with me? Why are other women able to accomplish so much while I seem to be struggling just to deal with basic housekeeping?"
I console myself with comfortable answers, but the fact is, if those women had identical circumstances to my own, they would still accomplish these great feats of homemaking. They are more organised and determined. I feel my will weakening at the sight of my laundry room's condition. I fall to questioning myself and determine to never let this happen again, although I know it will. Before children (BC), I was a decent housekeeper and a somewhat diligent pursuer of the domestic arts. Now, I am the head of our very own disaster cleanup crew.
But what does it matter? Why am I rating myself along a scale of domestic efficiency? It's not like I am competing with anyone to keep my job, or fighting for that next big promotion.
I am  sitting on our futon, typing on my laptop (which is missing a few keys) while my little son snuggles into my arm. This is a great job. Sure I would enjoy our house more if it was cleaner and more organised, but that is not reflective of my value. I think it is fun to bake beautiful meals and desserts, knit and sew, and tend our little backyard menagerie. They are valuable pursuits but they do not give me value.
I do not think I am alone in this struggle. It seems to me that there are many wives and mothers who are comparing their domestic accomplishments to those of their friends and feeling the need to outdo one another. So what if you handmade every single Christmas present for everyone you know? So what if you made twenty different kinds of Christmas cookies all from scratch with butter you churned yourself and placed them in tins that you decoupaged, and then wrapped them up in your own hand stamped, hand made wrapping paper? I just hoped you enjoyed it and didn't do it because you felt you needed to impress someone.
I guess I wish as women we were not competing with one another for the "homemaker of the year" award. At least don't bother competing with me.You've already won.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Morning sickness

Morning sickness seems to distill things for me, daily priorities mostly. There is just so much that I can do before I find myself shivering and gagging. I have to eat every two hours or so, otherwise I will find it almost impossible to eat at all. Leaning over and dealing with laundry goes way to the bottom of my list. Expecting another child however has sent my mind reeling. We currently live in a 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom house that is just under 1000 square feet. We have 4 children already crammed into their little 10 by 11 bedroom. What are we thinking? At first I just comforted myself with the usual maxims, "People all over the world live in huts the size of our kitchen and have larger families then ours...We thought the house would be too small to have baby number 3 and baby number 4 here, and we all live here now. I guess we can fit another baby too...Be content with such things as ye have (Hebrews 13:5 excerpt.)
As much as I believe these things to be true, my spirit has become restless. I want to move on before this next baby is born at the end of the coming summer. I want to be settled in a bigger nest, closer to our families, within walking distance of the Paulins Kil Trail. I can just see the trail stretched out in both directions. It is a long stretch of reclaimed railroad tract. It is mostly level, with steady grade changes, and it meanders along the Paulins Kil, a wide generous creek that makes it's way through northeast NJ to the Delaware River. I could hop on the trail and make my way in either direction to family. I have walked on it countess hours of my life and if I miss anything about NJ it is the quiet hours of reflection on that tract of apparent wilderness that waited just outside my door.
In this regards the Internet can be a very dangerous enemy to the virtue of contentment. I can spend hours browsing the Internet seeing what houses are for sale, where they are, how much they cost, and how you can attempt to fund your hopes. Fuel for my restless mind. Did I find someplace I wanted? Sure. Did I connive a way that we might be able to finagle it? Of course. Is our current home in salable condition? NO. The noose around my neck, the place that ties me here when have I wanted to be gone years ago, our house. Our too small, adorable but unfinished 'bungalow" keeps us from our family, and from being able to move back east. So I found a miraculous place, so cheep something must be terribly wrong with it. It is located right where I want it to be. My restless mind wakes me up. At 3:30 in the morning I lay with my stomach quivering from morning sickness, burping into my pillow, unable to stop my mind from trying to figure it out, trying to make it happen in my imagination so that somehow it will become a reality.
If "godliness with contentment is great gain" should I even want anything else? Should I be thankful for what I have and forget that we will, Lord willing, soon have 5 children sharing one room? I am actually asking. Che sara, sara, right?
Or should I beseech the Lord to answer my prayers? Should I come before Him, and like the persistent widow in the parable, just not leave his door until I get an answer? I tried that before and I got his answer on that account, NO. Does that mean that sort of importunity doesn't work? Should I just "let go and let God?"

You can check out my old blog to see the back story to this one. It is long and very personal and some of you may think, very misled. God was good to give the answers he did. It would have been wrong for our family. Maybe he was preparing me for something else? Maybe for contentment.