This month has been…hard. It’s July in Savannah, so my backyard looks like this:
We all got sick, and my house during my never ending illness looked like this:
And that brings me to what I am thinking about today. Order! Yes, I am a very, very disorderly person. Unfortunately, I am not one of those people who thrives on mess. I like routines because they make me feel calm. I like a reasonably clean house because it keeps me calm and able to do things besides worry about whether the health department is going to come and shut me down. What is a girl to do?
A girl is to bite the bullet and realize she is a grownup with other people relying on her to provide a semblance of order and beauty in their lives.
At the beginning of July I realized I had no, and I mean NO, order in my daily grind. The dishes were piled up in the sink (no dishwasher-thanks, retro kitchen!) the laundry strewn throughout the house and dinner while usually there, was a source of strain. Frustration, hormones exhaustion and chaos all contributed to my feelings of inadequacy. When I managed to pray it seemed like the Holy Spirit was tugging me toward establishing order in the home and embracing this life I’ve chosen. So what happens? He gives me tons of energy and a a hearty dose of perseverance? Nope. We all got the flu.
I sat on the couch and watched cartoons with my daughter for five days. I struggled to stagger over to the sink to wash a few dishes, but upright just wasn’t in the cards. I was completely helpless. Will was out of town on business and he was still getting over the virus from the pit of hell. The filth piled up. And do you know what I realized? I realized that, if I’m an at-home wife, it’s mostly my job to ensure a very few things get done every day, barring emergencies. The husband must help, to be sure, but providing the basic framework of order is a job that falls to disorganized, slightly slothful me.
I know, what a revelation, right? So, while lying in my bed of contagion, out came a notebook to list the stuff that had to get done on a daily basis so my kitchen wouldn’t end up on Hoarders, and so I’d have things like clean pants. To my surprise, the stuff that had to get done every day were really basic. Dishes/kitchen tidy up, bed making, at least one load of laundry (including putting it away) and making sure meals were on the table. I had read this many times at Auntie Leila’s, who is my guru, but it didn’t really sink in until I realized how unhappy I was because of my environment. I’m a very visual person. Too much going on around me actually makes me feel physically overwhelmed, to the point of needing to retreat to dark silence and do deep breathing. Anyway, I figured that if I can do these few things every day, the rest of what needed to happen (daily exercise, walks with Philomena, fun, learning, prayer, all that good stuff) would fall into place. Because you know what? The disorder had unleashed itself on every aspect of life. I didn’t do anything that I actually wanted to do. I spent my time trying to stay afloat. Life should be more than drudgery and trying to keep on top of chaos. The time for picking up my cross of dishes and daily tidy up had come.
I’m a little over a week into this wild new life of cleaning up immediately after every meal and getting the laundry done daily. Will helped me dig out from under. It took a solid week. Please bear in mind that all through this he was doing dishes, taking the trash out, keeping the child occupied and doing a great deal of grocery shopping while studying for and taking the bar exam. Stars in his crown. The difference in the quality of day to day life here is HUGE. I mean, HUGE. It’s starting to feel like home.
With this new- found order comes the freedom to create beauty. Order comes in lots of different packages-overflowing bookshelves are glorious to me and a menace to the sanity of other people. My house will probably never grace the cover of Dwell. For one thing, people live here. For another, we’re not pretentious hipsters. I’ll never be a neat freak. I’ll stay up too late more often than I should. But my house doesn’t smell. I have pants again. Philomena has daily cuddle and play time and isn’t saying things like “Mommy, why is this bathroom not clean like my friend’s bathroom?” I now have the freedom to do little things to beautify the house. You know, great big fancy things like hanging the pictures on the actual walls and putting a jar of marigolds on the table. And when Baby Girl arrives, she will rejoice, secure in the knowledge that Mommy keeps the floors relatively crumb-and-therefore-palmetto-bug-free.