It is Thursday morning again. I am waiting for the piano teacher to show up, and, as usual, I am frantically cleaning the bathroom, throwing toys into bedrooms, vacuuming up dust bunnies. I’m a whirl of activity, tripping over children and their oh-so-slow questions about math and grammar and whether or not I think we’ll go to a Rays game again soon. I sweep aside a request to locate one child’s lost flashcards; and just as I am swooping down to pick up that lone wet washcloth someone dropped by the front door this morning on his way to laundry room, the doorbell rings.
The door is mostly glass, so I know my final frenzy has been fully visible. I have to choose to push aside my embarrassment, just as I did last week, and just as I’m likely to have to do next week. I’ve tired of making promises to myself that next time I’ll be better on top of things, that Thursday will arrive and the house will be spotless, my hair will be fixed (i.e. brushed) and I’ll even be wearing makeup (glory be!).
Many days I look around my house and struggle not to feel like a failure. I have an image in my head of how it should look, with everything in place, freshly polished furniture and countertops shiny enough to double as mirrors.
I love beauty, order and cleanliness. Instead, I live with unabated clutter, crumb-covered floors, and boy-dominated bathrooms (I shall not elaborate). My walls are covered with smudges. Legos and nerf darts can be found in almost every corner and crevice, and dried toothpaste has a way of showing up in the oddest places. My crafty children seem to shed paper clippings, origami creations, bits of yarn, broken pencil lead, and a hundred variations of the “self portrait” throughout the house. (I am still waiting for someone to invent a “paper/glitter/string/broken crayon/smushed Cheerio roller.” Anyone?)
Truly, the state of my house is mortifying.
So why am I sharing this publicly? Why post such incriminating pictures? Because today I need to remind myself yet again that serving others is more important than maintaining a neat house.
Saying “yes” to homeschooling means that desks, tables and countertops are always full of books. It means that our kitchen hosts 3 meals and a snack time each day. It means that my dining room table is covered with eraser droppings. It means that no space in my house remains unused for any measurable length of time.
Saying “yes” to El Crucero means that my home is the storage place for crafts, snacks, bibles, t-shirts, games, prize box items, tutoring tools, the stereo system and anything else that is purchased or donated for the ministry. Here in southern Florida, we don’t have basements and homes are built with almost no closet space (as if a coat closet was only for coats), so various walls and corners inside my house have become the permanent holding place for all of these things.
Every day that I choose to play dolls with my daughter, run my son up to the library to get that next book in the series he just can’t wait to read, give my other son my undivided attention while he explains his latest passion, I choose them over the myriad chores calling to be completed. Every time I answer the phone knowing my friend will need me to talk for the next half hour, volunteer to take someone dinner, or faithfully show up to tutor my El Crucero children, I am choosing people over housework
Blessedly, my husband is unconcerned by clutter. In fact, I fully believe he doesn’t even really see it. Early in my marriage, I viewed this as a real problem, but now I am grateful for his clutter-blindness. As for the children, I think they must actually like living in the midst of a mess. Why else do they so joyfully return a newly cleaned room to a state of chaos?
In the end, a beautifully maintained home is my dream, not theirs. One day, when the children are grown (and I convert one of their bedrooms into an El Crucero storage room), the dream will likely become a reality. I suspect, though, that I will miss the days of Legos and Cheerios underfoot. Or maybe God will open up new avenues of service that will fill my days and require me to occasionally turn a blind eye to the dust on the piano and the shower that needs a good scrubbing.
How about you? What dreams/activities have you decided are worth sacrificing for the sake of service to others? I would love to hear your stories (and see pictures of your dirty houses).