Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Housework... in Perspective

In 2000, I put some notes together for a book on parenting. I just ran across a draft of a chapter that may encourage some beleagured mom's of youngsters out there.

Dirty Floors and Happy Faces

We moved to Texas from Virginia when I was eight-months pregnant with our third child. The day after our plane landed, we hit the ground in search of a new home. We loved and bought the first house we saw and scrambled like eggs to get moved in and partially settled before the baby came. We didn’t know a soul.

Shortly after our son was born, an interior designer named Brenda rang the doorbell. I knew we couldn’t keep black trash bags and towels on our windows forever, so I invited her in. I liked her immediately and was grateful to have some help with the windows. I was even more grateful to have a friend in Texas.

With a new baby and two very active toddlers running about, our once spotless new home was soon lathered in crud. There were enough crumbs on the kitchen floor to get Hansel and Gretal to the moon. On particularly sunny days, the dust would light up the air like ticker tape.

One day Brenda showed up with some shade samples. We went into the kitchen to get a better look under natural light. The sun shone brightly on the shades and my kitchen table, which was littered with souring sippy cups from the night before. There was an occasional “crunch, crunch” under our feet as we traipsed over who-knows-what. I could feel myself blush with embarrassment. I apologized to Brenda for the look of things just as two giggly little munchkins came speeding by smelling like a zoo.

Brenda, a loving mother of four, simply said, “My dear, you have the rest of your life to clean.”

With those words, I flashed to the year 2036. I am still rocking in my trusty old nursing rocker. I’m not nursing anyone at this point, of course. I’m just old, prone to sitting, and reflective. The kids are long gone. My husband’s on the golf course. In this quiet, solitary sunset, I’m looking back on my life and the things that truly mattered. And I’m not thinking, “What a life! I had the cleanest oven in town!”

What I’m thinking is, “Thank You, God, for giving me the good sense to appreciate what needed to be done in the early years to prepare my children to live without me and thrive on their own.”

Though the early years can seem never-ending, it’s a blink of time in which to have an impact. So, I vowed to stop getting out of bed every morning bemoaning the fact my two-year-old smooshed banana on Aunt Milly’s afghan. I do the best that I can to keep my environment livable. But, I forgive myself the grubby little handprints on the oven door and an occasional ring around the tub. My focus, frankly, is somewhere else; some place infinitely more important.

(Photo by Vinn, see for restrictions.)


Amy Fanning said...

I vote, "Finish the book!"

Sarah Onderdonk said...

Amy... that book got back burnered. Right now, I am just trying to survive Trinitarianism... where did the Scarecrow go to get a brain??