Much to my husband’s dismay, I’m kind of a binge-and-purge girl when it comes to chores. You see, I kind of LIKE it when my sink starts to look like this:
I mean, if my sink never began to be a health threat, how would I ever feel like a superhero? Tonight I put the kids to bed and Clark said, “Mom, are you going to be upstairs or downstairs?” This is code for “How much trouble can I get away with after you turn out the lights?”
“I’ll be upstairs.”
“Why don’t you go downstairs and work on the computer?”
“Because you would be naughty, and I have to wash the dirty dishes.”
Grant piped up, “There are a lot of dirty dishes indeed.”
What American 6-year-old talks like that? “Indeed?” I felt like I was in a Mary Poppins movie, except without a nanny or a live-in cook and housekeeper… more like the part where everything’s a mess right before they play that “Let’s clean up the nursery” game.
So we said our good-nights and I made my way into the kitchen to begin my superhero work. You will hardly believe this ladies and gentlemen, but that very same sink only a few minutes later looked like this:
See? Why would I slave away my days obsessively rinsing and stacking each dish as it’s actually used when I would clearly rob myself of the joy of results brought about by my extreme makeover labors? I just don’t get it. This habit plays itself out in many areas of my life. (I’ve learned that scripture study is not one that I can get away with; it HAS to be a consistent thing to work for me.) Let me give another example where I struggle maybe a tad with consistency. Just this past weekend Matt said to me, “Steph, you are perfect in almost every way, but you suck at laundry.” I have no idea what he’s talking about:
However, lest you judge him too harshly, I already knew I sucked at laundry. If I still had any of my blog archives, this is where I would link you to a bunch of old posts lamenting my laundry woes. I choose to focus on the part of his statement that acknowledges that, like Mary Poppins, I’m practically perfect in every way.
You know, I do think that maybe Mary Poppins had it right. It’s magical to change things around, but in the end what brings us the most happiness is time well-spent with our families.
In an article written by a woman named Winnie Dalley, she outlines what I believe is the most important thing for us mothers to remember amid all our tasks, whether we do them constantly or in frenzied spurts. The quote’s a little lengthy, but I’m betting that you’ll recognize yourself in it right away:
“Nearby in the kitchen, a mound of dirty dishes waits for me in the sink. The laundry is not done, the carpet not vacuumed, the bathroom not scrubbed. Toys are strewn haphazardly all over the living room and kitchen floor. A pile of unpaid bills sits arrogantly on top of the bookcase, exerting silent authority. All of a sudden, the negative aspects of the moment seem to outweigh the positive.
But it is really not so. I remind myself that I need to look beyond the temporal mists and regain my eternal vision of clarity. A house does not have to be perfect to be a home of joy, a child does not have to behave perfectly to love and be loved, and every moment of life does not have to be perfect to be of value. Too often, I realize, we fail to see the glorious reality of the simple joy that abounds in the seemingly mundane routine of day-to-day living. Instead, we tend to idolize the past, idealize the future, and devalue the present. We complain abundantly, we worry too much, and we appreciate too little. We forget Amulek’s exhortation to “live in thanksgiving daily, for the many mercies and blessings which [God] doth bestow upon” us (Alma 34:38), as well as Alma’s counsel to “let [our] heart be full of thanks unto God” (Alma 37:37). What better way to show our appreciation to Heavenly Father for what we have than to embrace our lives, albeit “ordinary” and “unexciting,” with joy?
Motherhood is not always idyllic; nevertheless, it is one of the greatest and most glorious experiences I have encountered. I have no doubt in my mind that whether it is performed in this life or the next, it is the most important work a woman will ever do. Just as the worth of a child is immeasurable, so is the worth of a righteous mother, and so is her joy”
Right on, Winnie. I also recently came across an old article in the Ensign that referred to a small plaque engraved with the following prayer:
We work and pray, but at the end of the day, no matter how hard we try, there are still many reasons to cry. So please send us angels to comfort us in our fears and help us turn the small successes into cheers. Amen.
I think I should hang that plaque in my kitchen. I’m hoping angels come do the dishes and laundry tomorrow, but in the meantime, let’s hear it folks: Three cheers for Stephanie and her clean sink. “Hip, hip hooray. Hip, hip…”
Oh, and don’t forget what Mary Poppins said, “A spoonful of chocolate makes the chores go down.” Don’t tell me if I remembered that wrong.
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