Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Laundry, etc.

I had some deep thoughts today. I've been analyzing myself. Am I swell, or not so swell? What are my credentials? When I hear other mothers talk about household duties, or table settings, or great meals, or preparing family lessons a month ahead of time, I just think "that's not me". It's my auto-copout.

I do laundry. I knock it out, throw it in their drawers, call it good. I hang up our shirts within a day or two of washing. I cook, sort of. I bake on a whim. I rarely plan. Do I really try? Do I give it everything? Do I put my full effort into these responsibilities that are mine and only mine? Let's face it, no one else on this earth will do them for me. It's up to me. For the next twenty or so years.

I think I've been afraid for a long time of being just a "wife and mother". I try to add all these other things to my life, things that make me feel like I'm still dabbling in the outside world. Little side-jobs that distract me from the back-breaking task it sometimes is to take care of a home and family. Family mottos are great, so are chore charts and budgeting wisely and planning weekly meals. But I've ignored my need for them because they feel so mundane and unrewarding. "Let the children be, let me conjure up something hot and edible at 6p.m., no sooner. Let other mothers sweat and plan and be occupied with the every day."

I feel like I just do daily damage control. Oh, Grace got mad at Ruby again, let's deal with it the quickest and quietest way possible so I can go on with whatever I'm doing... But maybe I should plan ahead? When Grace does this, I will do this. Be more consistent. I know, I know, I sound like an idiot. Like, really, how basic can one get? But I've created these children. I've created this world for myself on my own accord and I need to be more present.

I need to change. I am not happy with how I'm doing as a housewife (who else hates that word?) compared to my potential. I am talking specifically about the duties of a home. Running a household. Mothering (with patience) is hard, too, but in order to feel good I think I need to organize my home. Not just physically organize, but in every aspect. Plan ahead, think ahead, not shiver at the concept of planning meals a week or even a month ahead of time. I need to take control. I'm not talking perfection here, just a constant vigil on what I could be doing better.

[And the feminist in me shakes her fist...]

This is what I'm doing right now. Taking care of my kids and my home. This is what I'm responsible for. Why not be better at it, lower my eyes and brace myself? Besides, my own mother did more than give me the tools! Why not stretch myself to actually put on that heavy weight and run the place? It's something that I've put off long enough. If it's bound to take up my time, I better be darn good at it.


Kristy said...

Oh Sarah, I think every mother feels like you do. My title is "Domestic Engineer" not housewife, but I'm okay with the second one too. I go through the same thing with housework, especially right now. I kinda don't worry about it though. I don't know if that's the best policy. I clean-up here and there, but I really pick up twice a week, Saturdays and Wednesday. If I can do that the house stays pretty clean the rest of the week. Another thing I never made a menu or even had a desire to until I got cookbooks that were more like things of beauty to me than "Better Homes and Gardens" kind of things.
So I actually love to look through my cookbooks and think "that's looks good I'm going to try it." That's what made the difference to me, food moved to the next level, instead of just a meal it's like a creative, artistic outlet now. That's one thing a HATE about korea is that I can't do that here because there aren't resources to do whatever you want. I think about what kind or legacy I want to leave for my kids to remember me by and I would like them to say that I loved making things, I loved them, and I feed them well. So, what I'm saying're awesome and you love your kids and they know it and inspire them everyday with the little things you do. So, if the house is a mess sometimes or if you have cold cereal for breakfast once a week like we do or there's constant pile of dirty clothes it's okay. Sorry this is a really long comment, I thing you're awesome!

Amy and Sean said...

I envy your resolve and admire you for what a wonderful mother you are! I think you are a much better "housewife" than you give yourself credit for. I hate that term isn't it silly that now, at this point in my life, I would give anything to be one? Funny how perspectives change! Well, once I win the lottery, I am totally quitting my job! haha

Team Bowers said...

Really Sarah, there needs to be more "housewives" like you! You are amazing! But in this life we are always supposed to be progressing and getting better, so if that's the are you have chosen to improve on, heavenly father will bless you in it. Just choose ONE aspect of it, like meal plans. Just do that for awhile and let everything else be as it is. Then you can get good at that and pick the next thing......And don't let satan tell you that you are ANYTHING else but AMAZING! Wife and Mother!

Diana said...

I too, hate the term housewife....much prefer homemaker, which implies actively creating a home for my family and myself. Besides, I'm married to my husband, not my house! I've found two books that have helped me with subtle or not so subtle mind shifts. One is Sink Reflections by Marla Cilley aka the flylady - The other is The Ultimate Career, by Daryl Hoole (my mom found this one at Deseret Books) I've fluctuated in and out of menu planning and 'house planning' and I like the way things run better when in the groove. With #5 on the way, ending my first trimester, I have no energy and am out of the groove. I am hoping to get back there somewhat before baby comes in Sept. in hopes that the kids and the house will be on a good routine. My hope is that they will have remnants of it when baby gets here, I know I won't. Newborns take my routines and shove them out the window!
I ditto what Kristy says about cookbooks. Three year ago I got the Joy of Cooking for the first time. I practically read it like a novel. And I used to love the Food Network back in the days of satellite at our house.
I have recently begun to see my role as mother as the teacher. I am teaching in everything I do...most of it unconsciously, and by example. I have started to envision the kind of people that I want my children to be, and start guiding them in that direction. What is important for my daughter to know when she is a mom? (She's only 5) Is my son learning patterns of scripture study that will carry him through his teen years and into young adulthood and when he serves a mission? (He is 10) What am I teaching them about caring for their belongings? (Not enough)
Anyway, beautifully written post. Definitely reignited these questions within my self as well. Thanks! :)

Megan said...

Don't go crazy now. If the scheduling works for you, do it. If not, don't stress. For me some months are better than others. But I know for sure that if I scheduled the cleaning and the meal planning EVERY day I'd go nuts. If I knew I had to do laundry all day on Wednesdays and nothing else I think that I might never get out of bed on Wednesday mornings because I would be so depressed. I like the creative part about being a homemaker. Creating spontaneous dinners, creating time to get the most important things done that day. I'm not raising a house, I'm raising these children.

Your second paragraph is my favorite. It sounds a lot like me. And I like the way it sounds.

You, my friend, are extremely swell. Be proud.

Lindsey said...

ugh, i agree, the term 'housewife' is horrible.

it's tough for us feminists! whenever i reluctantly iron something, it makes me feel like i've lost the battle...!

Raelyn said...

No housewives...but we are family CEO' we are supposed to act that way I suppose.


I am sure taht even those that plan every meal, and organize every closet, do daily crafts and have seemingly obedient fact have all different issues of their own.
If you put anything under a microscope you will find what you do not want to see.

We all feel the same way you do though, I think. And I applaud you for wanting to do more...I do too, and I try all of the time. There is always more to improve though. I can't keep up.

Chelsea Stewart said...

Wow, Sara! It's like you took a peek inside of my 'housewife' head and put into words exactly how I feel...I always feel like I could and should do more, like plan my meals a week ahead, etc., etc.

I ditto every single word you just wrote!! I'm relieved that I'm not the only one that feels that way, phew. I'm still not sure if it lessens my guilt, however; dang it.

Julie said...

If it makes you feel any better, having strict plans stresses me out more because (at least in my house), things RARELY go according to "plan". So, if my closets are messy, and it's a beautiful day, I look at my cute little boy's face and think, "The closests can wait. We're off to the park!" Don't feel bad. You rock. You're pregnant. Chaos and mini vans are our lives! Embrace... :)

Jennifer said...

It could just be me, but I totally don't get this post! I've been to your house and as far as I can tell you are a great "housewife" and obviously a great Mother.

I say do what works best for and your family.

I'm with Amy. When I win the lottery I'm quitting my job too!

LuCDay said...

Sometimes planning ahead frees up more time for you to do whatever and relieves some of the stress. But that's me and you know me. And just remember, nobody is perfect, no matter how much they look like they are on paper. :o)

Laurel said...

can a "not a housewife but wish I was" comment?

On behalf of those of us who love your life and what you've made of it, PLEASE don't change your approach. Progress & improve, if you feel so inclined. But, I love what you do because you ARE so present. You are real. You are experiencing life. When your daughters need you, you are there. When your hubby wants to talk at night, you are there. You have sweet traditions and you LOVE LOVE LOVE your girls. And they know it. Be YOUR kind of wife and mom. Because I love it. And I think you've figured out what life is all about. Family mottos and chore charts and wise budgeting and planning meals are great...but oh, don't lose what you do so well...which is LIVING in the moment and ENJOYING your role. Oh, please don't just become like all the others because you think you should...let them do it their way...which is what works for THEM and their families. But you do it your way...because it works for your.

Stetch yourself if you feel the need to stretch but in YOUR way. You know? Because you are present, my dear. You are.

Okay, enough from me...a girl who probably so doesn't know what she's talking about but who wants to grow up and be a mom like you. seriously.

Lillie said...

Oh my oh my. I had goose bumps running up and down my BOD-AY! I feel exACTLY everything you just said. Accept I would replace a couple of girl names. Thank you for posting this so that I might think (even though it's probably not really true and more of a guilty one day post) that even a mother like YOU-- a mother I think of often that I'd like to emulate--- even you can feel like you live in survival mode. I keep thinking it will pass and then I wonder-- or maybe I'm just making these habits more CONCRETE every day. This living moment to moment. Sometimes I catch myself just NOT having done enough with SOphia--- getting her distracted anywhere else but with me, and then I feel guilty and smother her with kisses and attention for a few minutes and she's the happiest girl in the world and I think--- this is not enough. What a fraud am I to think I can trick her with a few minutes to make up for hours of pawning her off on toys and tasks (during mila's nap).

Don't know if this adds up-- but no time to re-read. I feel ya. Oh do I feel ya.

Dee said...

I have this reputation at work as an efficient organised individual.
So I get home and my organised efficient self won't even walk in the door with me.
She must get paid better to go somewhere esle.
Pots soaking for days, washing piles in all the rooms dirty and clean. What do I care Mick isn't going to call me into his office and ask me to justify my job. Quite frankly he's more than a little bit scared that I will ask for a payrise or worse cry.

Sharry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carin said...

Oh Sarah---what a day!! You, my dear, are raising souls--that is your business--your eternal business and that is what you are preparing for. When that day comes, you won't be washing dishes or laundry or making meal'll be loving, teaching, nurturing, soothing, guiding, lifting, hoping, praying, and doing all of those things you are already practicing every single day. You are doing the important things. Sure, we can all improve in the day to day living. And 'housewife' does not adequately describe the true nature of your work. It would be another worldly term. Your true title is MOTHER--and you do it very well. The children who are there and the ones who are coming have chosen to be with you...You are the one they wanted because of who you are today and who you will be tomorrow. They are your treasures and they are your work and they look beautiful.

vicky said...

I think you are an amazing mom! Many times I have thought...if I could only be more fun like Sarah!

Laura said...

Check out this posting & if you want a good cry- read the older posts in 2010. Every mother does feel like she's not doing enough & it takes motivation to keep improving. At least you're "analyzing yourself"- that's what I always tell myself anyway! Acknowledgment is the first step, right?! This posting was very motivating & humbling to me. You are already WAY better than most anyone I know at appreciating your little ones & this should confirm to you that your priorities are in the right place. I'm totally ignoring my laundry tomorow & going to do nothing but hugging, loving & staring. Love ya-

Jodi said...

You just described my life so eloquently. Unfortunately, I agree with every word you wrote and I'm so glad to know someone else out there shares my guilt. Here's to doing better :)

So glad we can be friends!


jakenapril said...

i agree with laurel. while i am probably more like the mom you envision you should be (organized, structured, and tidy) do you know what i would give to be a mom who was more like you? i believe that so long as our children know we love them we are doing a good job. and it's plain to see that you are loved right back. keep on doing what you're doing, sarah. you're amazing!