I’m entering 2017 with the fresh resolution to be really on top of my housekeeping game.
I am going to venture to say, I am the least OCD mom you will meet. I have to really work myself up to care about stuff like wiping the sink out after I do the dishes. Or picking up the pair of Paw Patrol underwear that has sat in the corner of my bathroom for five days. (It wasn’t dirty or anything, okay?). I am so far from OCD that when I hear women complain about how OCD they are and how hard it makes their lives because they have to clean all the things all the time, it almost sounds to me like when, in high school or college, super skinny girls complained about being TOO SKINNY and wished they had curves.
I would love to have the extra personal drive to clean!
But, the way God created me I guess, is to be really laid back and kind of permanently in my own world, and I have to bring myself down to earth and train myself to embrace the constant picking up and cleaning that is required when you have toddlers and babies, if you want any semblance of order. I can’t get by any more on my old routine of giving the house a good top to bottom cleaning once a week.
I’ve been reflecting on this embrace of work, of the drudgery of cleaning and folding and putting away something knowing full well it will need to be cleaned and folded all over again in 12 hours. I went to a Benedictine college, and getting to know the monks there, and seeing the rhythm of their daily lives, you see clearly that work is key in their pursuit of God. The monastic tradition preaches that our individual callings to daily work – however boring or stupid and insignificant that work may seem – are our path to peace.
I’m sure you have seen this now-famous image on the internet at some point in the last few years…
I read the other day that the creator of this meme, Lara Casey, wasn’t thinking of sky diving, or traveling to Europe, or starting her own business. When she drew those lines, she was thinking about her longing to read the bible from cover to cover. Reading this kind of bowled me over.
This is the time of year I also start thinking about those things I’ve always wanted to do. There are a million of them! To get back into distance running, to pray every day, to travel, to replace our carpets, to get out of debt.. It is the time of year I crave those makeover books, like Eat Pray Love, even though when I read it, and get past the mouthwatering pasta and the dreamy descriptions of life in other cultures, I feel this ache at the narcissism and the belief that focusing on and perfecting your self will bring you to lasting happiness.
Looking at my kids is a great example of why this is backwards; kids are so blissfully un-self-conscious. They go through life simply, and focused on the present moment, focused completely on their work (hey, even if its building the tallest block tower, its work for them!).
Children – the smallest, simplest, happiest of human persons – don’t find happiness in escaping their work, or in gazing deeply and intensely at their own belly-buttons. They find happiness in abandoning themselves to the work at hand, and finding in turn the satisfaction of mastering it.
I shared a few posts ago about my renewed commitment to delving into the School of Nazareth – learning how to really find peace in the hiddenness of my home while serving my family. As part of that delving, I read some of this spirituality of work by St John Paul II. I have to read him slow cause he’s too intellectual for me. But I loved it! Especially this line: “He [Jesus] looks with love upon human work and the different forms that it takes, seeing in each one of these forms a particular facet of man’s likeness with God, the Creator and Father”.
This is such a contrast to the Eat Pray Love model. Maybe we don’t escape our deep restlessness by escaping though. Maybe we settle it by diving into the work at hand, however humble it is. We fix the brokenness in our humanity by following in the Creative nature of our maker. We create, we work, we sacrifice; we find the peace that passes understanding.
It is helping me to look at my humble work right now through the True, the Good, and the Beautiful lenses. My time spent talking with my children, reading to them and answering their questions, is helping to lead them to know the Truth [when I’m not engrossed by my phone]. My discipline of them when they are wrong can be guiding them to the Good. And as for my housework… it helps me to look at the housework as not just cleaning, but as making life Beautiful for my children. After all, I am literally making their experience of daily life at home more lovely when I sweep up the crumbs, when I take the time to clean the dried food out from the highchair buckles.