Extreme makeover: totally lame mom edition

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:

Dear God,

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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26 thoughts on “Extreme makeover: totally lame mom edition

  1. I suck at laundry, too. And dishes. Oh, and bathrooms. And, yeah, about that vacuuming…

    I’ve heard women say that what they’d love to have is a “wife”. Well, they’d just better hope she’s more domesticated than the one my poor husband is saddled with!

  2. There are Angels. All the time. And helping out more than we will ever know. I love that about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The physical and spiritual are not far apart at all. In fact they are one. We just have to pay attention. We are more loved and supported than we can comprehend, and we are more familiar with it than we know also.
    After breaking up a wrestling match this evening between Sawyer and Porter -Ella puts her hand on her hip and says “Mom -You need to cool it. We are just fooling around.” I’m like – “what? and WHAT?” Then Porter “yea Mom. Kids will be kids!” Hu? Whobitee – Whattee? Is that German?

  3. Your posts always touch me so much! They help me to remember what it is I’m actually up to here…not the laundry or the dishes, but something so much more. Thanks for reminding me of that!

    “indeed”–that’s hysterical!!

  4. I always enjoy reading your posts. You are very thoughtful and help put things in perspective. Just wanted to say it was fun reading your family idea in the Ensign, too. I really married in to a great family!

  5. Great makeover, Steph! I love that quote.

    When I was growing up we had a little plaque that said, “Home should be clean enough to be healthy and dirty enough to be happy.” 🙂

  6. Ugh… I suck at laundry AND mothering. I guess I will get one of them right one of these days. In the mean time, I’ll rely on those angels that you mentioned.

  7. I have the same dishes and laundry disease as you, indeed. 🙂
    I thought it was “a handful of chocolate chips help the laundry get done” that Mary Poppins said, but now that I think of it, it’s been a while since I’ve seen it, so who knows? Maybe she said both somewhere in there?
    My aunt has a sign in her house that says “If you’ve come to see me, come on in. If you’ve come to see my house, make an appointment.” I’ve always thought it was so funny, and too true.

  8. “Why don’t you go downstairs and work on the computer?”


    keep an eye on this one. something tells me his motives are not completely altruistic 🙂

  9. I did some research into this–I thought- why are hotel towels always so white?! I researched and investigated, and I discovered the secret–it’s all about washing them right after the stain happens! In other words, they wash them every day (I know there’s a gospel application here). It’s not abou

  10. It’s not about the type of detergent you use or the temperature of your water, it’s about the time you leave your clothes sitting with the stain. So now I bypass the dirty clothes bin and throw everything dirty from the day into the washing machine (that saves some time too). I start the washer as I get ready for bed, then the dryer when I go to bed. In the morning, the clothes are clean & dry, never stained. 🙂

  11. I have never heard that quote before … at least it is not ringing any bells at the moment. BUT, I love it, and I need to read it every day.

    And that angels quote is all too true, too!

    And don’t correct me if I am wrong, but doesn’t chocolate, especially dark chocolate, fix anything?

  12. Yeah, I pretty much love you now. I was just thinking this whole what-it-takes-to-motivate-me-to-clean question, and was writing a post not unsimilar to yours in my head. And now you’ve posted pictures of my – oops, I guess that was your – laundry room.

    My post may show up someday, and then we can commiserate once more. But until then – why clean it before it’s dirty?

  13. P.S. For a good laugh, you should go back in my archives and read my limerick contest entries on laundry. Lisaway won that one, but they were HYSTERICAL!

  14. I can’t name even begin to number the ways that I fail in keeping my house. I don’t understand exponential numbers. But I can point to a few key ways that I’ve succeeded in creating a home, so that’s what I like to count.

  15. Laundry is my nemesis, too. But I have found a solution! I wash it all week long and let it pile up in my bedroom, and then I watch 24 on Monday nights and manage to get it all folded and put away.

    Unfortunately, this will only last until the season is over. Then I am back to having it pile up for weeks and never folding it all.

  16. lol @ Lara.

    I suck at laundry and dishes and vacuuming and … well, most chores. I wash it all week long and let it pile up on my couch. My couch is a 9-foot-long laundry basket. So sad. Yet so true.

  17. Laundry’s actually the one thing I can handle. Everything else is awful, but that’s okay… It’s the HOME that’s important, not the HOUSE, right?

  18. Oh how you make me giggle! I am so much the same way…except…well…it’s not JUST the laundry I have an issue with.

    I’m so doing a full MONTH of before and after pictures to try to whip myself into shape…now, where’s the chocolate?!

  19. Thanks for this post. I loved the parts about Mary Poppins and I appreciated the quotes. I also loved the “indeed” part–my son says “perhaps” and other very sophisticated words a lot too and I find it highly amusing as well. And when my kids want to be mischievous, they tell me to go get on my computer too. 🙂

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