When I want to know how much I weigh I use the high tech fat analyzer scale in the closet of my bathroom. Not only do I want to know my weight but I want to know more than that; of what does that weight consist? I want data, raw numbers to interpret and apply to what I know of my body already.
When I worked in the outside world and wanted to gauge my progress I would lookward my peers, co-workers and collegues. I would see what they did, how they acted, how clean or messy their desk appeared and glean from it what I might to become more successful.
In my current profession, that of mother and domestic goddess I often employ the same means of evaluation although it has morphed into a self depreciating and defeating practice.
I visit houses of my friends and always find myself lacking. Jenny’s home is always spotless and her children well groomed. While Pat’s home is not spotless her children are extremely well behaved and she is incredibly creative with them. Tracy’s home is spotless, her children well behaved, she homeschools, grows and cans her own vegetables and is an unbelievably sweet person. It’s no wonder that I am friends with each of these women. They all possess qualities that I admire.
Aside from being my friends these women are in effect my collegues in this business of parenting and house-tending. It is understandable, I suppose, that I would look to them and their ways when I measure myself in this vocation. The struggle for me is to really see their lives without drawing the negative connotations implied in the different ways we run our proverbial ship.
My home is far from spotless. There is a half hearted but well meaning structure for where things belong. There are days when the floors are clean and the bathrooms smell fine, the laundry put away, the dishes done and all is well with the world. Then there are days when the floor is so sticky it’s embarrassing, the dishes piled high in the sink, the children wearing yesterday’s underwear because the laundry is awaiting my attention. And then we find our moments of what I call “Ordinary Time”. Clean clothes that are not yet put away, clean dishes, still in the dishwasher, sweepable floor and merely a thin layer of dust on the bookshelf.
It seems that I keep house the way I homeschool; a somewhat disorganized but well meaning and “organic” manner. There are days when we stay in our pajamas all day and sit around reading and playing with art stuff. There are days when we hit our “schedule” like clockwork and get all of our subjects finished. There are mainly days, though, that fall in between. Ordinary Time. Half the kids are dressed, half in pajamas. Some have brushed their teeth, others staunchly refuse. The dog’s been fed at least once. We finished our math work and part of the required reading for History. The television has been on for far longer than I even care to admit. These are the nights I quiz my husband and require him to tell me that our children will not be permanently damaged by my lack of follow through. His standard response, “They’re great…they really are” is all I need to hear.
Ordinary time, is where we live. These in between days make up the bulk of the year and yet I find that I still feel as though I’m playing catch up. If given the choice between Slouch Time, Ordinary Time and High Time I guess in the end I’d like to be a slouch with a spotless house on a regular basis. I want it all but I don’t REALLY know anyone who can do this and keep her sanity.
I think back upon my three friends to whom I compare myself.
I can look at each of their lives and see how they differ from mine, I could draw unfavorable comparisons to how well I do things, how they lack just to make myself feel better I suppose. But in the long run, when day is over what really strikes me is that I AM friends with each of them because of the qualities they possess; kindness, faithfulness, joyfulness, creativity just to name a few. I admire these qualities because I have them too whether or not I realize this on a regular basis. What brings us together really is seeing those things in each other that we find to be valuable.
My hope is that I begin to use sentances such as, “what I love about Pat is….” rather than “what makes me jealous of Pat is…”
My hope is that I will begin to live in and through this Ordinary Time… and see how it lives in me.