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First of all, you need to read this post about dead beetles. I know, it sounds gross, but trust me. It's good! Really good. Go read it. I'll wait.
I used to be a dead beetle. Well, sort of. The scenario is this: I was raised by very organized and clean parents. Both worked. Both cleaned the house. My mother dated my father and went on vacations with him. She took care of herself and was thereby able to take care of us. And so I never had a dead beetle mother --she had all the help and distraction for a healthy life. They taught us to work hard (not always fun) and our house was always reasonably clean (as long as you didn't check the baseboards or corners for cobwebs) and VERY organized.
But my mom had my dad. He was/is amazing (I've talked about him before). Not many men are as innately helpful as he was --they literally shared all housework, and without even talking about it (well, maybe they did, what did I know?). They have these amazing personalities where if they see something that needs to be done, they just do it. They don't complain, they don't whine, they don't care --they just do it. Of course, they could have been whining in private...
Now, I'll be the first to say that I'm fantastic when it comes to taking care of my personal needs --as far as time away from the kids is concerned. I travel, I'm not afraid to get sitters, I will shower, I date my gorgeous hubby. This part has never been a problem for me. Instead, my "dead-beetleness" stemmed from housework.
For the longest time, I was trying to make my home look perfect and feel perfect, pretty much on my own. My husband would help, yes, I was teaching the kids, yes, but it was all me. My hubby isn't a bad person or unhelpful or dominating --he just doesn't mind a little clutter. I felt I had to have the perfect home (the cleanest, the most organized, etc.), though, or else I was a failure. If the kids didn't help happily, I had failed. If we didn't get it cleaned fast enough, I had failed. I claimed it was because I wouldn't be able to function or focus, but it was really a pride issue: If I didn't have a perfectly run household, then I was a failure, I wasn't good enough, my kids would be failures, my marriage would be ruined. What would people think? What would my mother think? What would Heavenly Father think? I would have FAILED.
I literally wore myself to the core. I think it had a lot to do with my Depression (or helped cause my depression?), but I was spent. And the more children we had, the worse it got.
It's taken me nearly 12/13 years to realize that all my home simply needs is love. Love, love, love. Yes, that includes clean dishes and teaching my kids to work, but it also means letting a lot of things go --being okay with clutter here and there. Forgetting to bathe the kids twice a week. Not folding the laundry for 10 days. Mopping the kitchen floor only when it gets really bad. Of course, if the house doesn't function well at all, then there's very little love going on and a lot of frustration. So, there does, indeed, need to be balance. And that's the trick, dear reader --finding balance.
I think the problem we face, as LDS women ESPECIALLY, is that we are trying to create heavenly homes and we are confused as to what that means. We all agree that our children need to learn work, service, love, compassion, obedience...we all agree that cleanliness is next to Godliness... we all agree that our homes should be havens and that family work is a blessed and beautiful thing. We know the mundane has spiritual connotations and are important, even though they are hard. We all agree in process and order (as we do in the Church programs). We all agree that we need prayer, scripture, FHE, church, clean clothes, nutritious food, and respect towards others and respect for our homes. But how do we take those desires and translate them into our daily home-lives?
It's a constant adjustment, I believe.
Once, when I was feeling especially down because for months the house had only been "mediocre" and not "awesome-sauce," I asked Brandon how he felt about the house. Did it bother him? Was I a failure to him? He told me, very bluntly, that the only person caring about the state of the house at that moment was myself. The only person who was assuming I had failed my husband was myself --not him. He told me he knew how hard it was to deal with all the kids and the house and my Depression and that I was doing a great job. He admitted he never really cared as much as I did at the state of our home.
Lightbulb!! I had been living in fear --afraid that if I didn't do everything perfectly, then he wouldn't care about me. Afraid I would have failed my parents. Afraid I would have failed my children and society. Afraid of that failure --but it was a failure I had created in my mind.
Who wants to live like that!?
I still clean the house. I still want things to be organized. But I've had to set aside visions of perfection in order to have a happier family. If you came over to my house right now, you'd find clean laundry in the hallway, crumbs on the floor, some boxes that need to be collapsed and recycled in the living room, laundry in the washer, dirty dishes on the table, some socks on the floor, toys in the family room, my unmade bed... but you would also find a clean bedroom (the little boys'), a clean sink, an organized storage room, and a clean front yard. You'd also find me showered (but without make-up), my kids fed and dressed (but #4 wearing #3's underwear because I'm behind on laundry), me trying what to take to a family potluck tonight (but excited about a roommate reunion tomorrow night, sans non-nursing kids).
It's chaos. But it's livable. It's temporary. For now, it's perfect enough.