Sometimes life gives you lemons, and, being a homemaker, you make lemonade. Sometimes life gives you pink flowers, and you arrange them in a vase… and sometimes life gives you cookie crumbs and peanut butter smears, and the only thing you can do is wipe them up and love the ones who have left them for you. The following is a story of how some pink roses inspired me to clean up half of my house to better enjoy their elegance.
There is a vase with pink roses standing next to me on the desk. They make me smile every single time I look at them. My husband is the most wonderful, romantic man, but these roses were not a gift from him. Being busy at work and coming home to help me with our active boy rarely leaves time for a stop for flowers. I love flowers, though, and they add a little touch of something extra feminine to the interior. At the grocery store, I found out that my careful budgeting and planning had paid off, and my grocery bill came out considerably less than what I had to spend. So I treated myself to some pink roses for about four dollars and still came out under budget.
Putting them here next to my computer makes me smile, makes me feel feminine, happy, and spoiled. And it inspires me to clean up my desk. Adding a little indulgence here and there somehow makes me wish to do the more mundane tasks as well. Elegance is somehow infectious and strongly related to neatness and order.
Which is why the rest of the living room needed to be tidied as well to match the desk. So I started picking things up and found a few of of my son’s clothes lying around. This led to me put a load of laundry in. And that made me realize that, since my wonderful husband was playing with with our boy, I had the time to also put away some of the clean laundry that was hanging on the rack and put it actually into the closet. Which, of course, led to me seeing there was laundry waiting in the bedroom to be picked up and put in a second load. Organizing the laundry meant that I came across some things that were clean but not yet put in place, and now…. not only is there a vase of roses on my desk, but that desk has been emptied of all unnecessary stuff as well.
The kitchen table also has a white table cloth, and a crystal bowl has been dusted off, taken from the fridge and filled with pretty red apples as a practical and pretty centerpiece. There are pretty, clean tea towels hanging in the kitchen, and I am feeling tired but good. It is now 10.15 pm, and I have in the meantime spent time playing with our son, sat behind the computer scanning pictures and files, had some soup for dinner, knitted a few stitches and relaxed a bit by browsing some of my favorite blogs. Considering I only came home from the grocery store at 6.15 pm, it didn’t take that long at all to add that little layer of femininity to my house with a small side dish of organization along the way.
Two days after I wrote the above, I penned the follow-up story. I think it is important to share it and allow people to see that none of us are the “superwoman” who has it all together. The reality of homemaking exists of fleeting moments in which things are picture perfect…and a lot of work in between–work that is worth doing, and worth doing well, even when it is less elegant.
The beautiful pink roses are still standing next to me and making me smile. However, I have promised myself several times to be perfectly honest about the realities of homemaking and motherhood, so that other people like me, who are new on this path know that we share some experiences.
Quite often in the past I’ve visited wonderful homemaking blogs and come out feeling inspired but also hopelessly inadequate and doomed to failure, because I never would be able to get it all together and do all these wonderful projects like those women did. Their children never seemed to throw tantrums, their house never seemed a mess, and there always was a crockpot with something delicious on, so they never… ever… stood frazzled before the freezer and decided that they could get away with pizza this evening. And if they did, it would be homemade, wholesome, whole wheat pizza dough, of course, with toppings laid out in a shape that portrayed the liturgical season or their current bible reading or homeschool project.
In the few years that I have been a wife and mother, I have learned that life simply does not work that way. These women do all these wonderful projects, and I commend them for it, but often they are of the opinion that when things go wrong, you do not announce it to the world. I can respect that opinion, especially in this tell-all generations where people seem to find it necessary to share every little detail about their lives–even the details we really did not want to know.
For some of us first-generation homemakers, however, this creates discouragement. We have no other role models to look at for full-time homemakers than either old television shows, which we know to be unrealistic, and the women we get to know through the Internet who go before us. So I made the commitment that while I want to share my inspirations and triumphs and joys, I will also share the, ah… less pretty side.
On Sunday my house looked beautiful, the roses beamed at me in approval, and I felt satisfied with the world. Three days, two doctors appointments, a husband with a busy time at work, and a son with a cold later… these are the changes:
- Miscellaneous objects have managed to congregate on my desk. I do not know how or why, because I certainly did not invite them, but from where I sit right here, I can see a homeschooling book, two children’s books, an empty box of tissues, a box of dried prunes, a necklace, a box of crayons that should be in the desk not on it, a mug, a can with an energy drink, a pretty tea cup, a children’s cup, and a half-worked scribbled drawing that my son made while talking with his grandmother on Skype, as well as some junk mail. It’s a big desk.
- The crystal bowl with the pretty red apples had to be removed, because my son kept helping himself. That would not be so bad–after all, fruit is good for you–if he would actually eat one apple, then go to the next one. Instead, he selected one, bit in it, took it along, left it somewhere, and, when whim struck, stretched his hand out for the next one. We went through three apples before I caught on and intervened.
- There is one basket of Duplos upended on the carpet, and my son’s shoes are lying next to them where I put them after I took them off to put him down for his nap. For some reason, my husband’s tie is also lying on the carpet.
- The pretty white table cloth is, unfortunately, no longer pretty and white. Two days ago my son wanted to play with the coin box and help pick up the coins from the table and put them back in the jar. We “counted” money for literally an hour and a half. Dirty coins leave residue on a white table cloth.
- To finish off the table cloth came our daily practice of independence and self-reliance: the idea that we should allow a child to do things for himself so he can become more independent and a greater help to mommy and daddy as he learns to do something on his own. It’s a great thing to stimulate at the age of two and a half when children actually love to do things by themselves. It’s also a sticky thing to stimulate, literally. Because while my sweet little one is learning how to spread cream cheese or choco spread on his own crackers or bread, the once white table cloth suffers in the two seconds there are between mommy realizing the impending disaster and the moment where she can hand a wipe to her son after having hauled her pregnant body from the chair in an unseemly display of haste, rushed off to the kitchen, found the wipe and offered it while exclaiming, “NO … don’t…you’re being a good boy… keep your hands up… no… keep it… oh….”
Now after I finished up this post, I did actually put that tablecloth in the washing machine. I also cleaned up some of the clutter on my desk, which only took ten minutes. But some days, I am too tired and, being pregnant, I need to snatch up these minutes for a nap or some soothing time to knit. Some days it grows from this little bit of disorder to more extravagant proportions. Then I need a bouquet of pretty pink roses or another reminder that even in this season, even with limited time, I can create some order and prettyness amidst the choco smears…at least for a few hours.
Life is not picture-perfect, but the work is worth doing. Pretty touches are needed and wonderful, but when little ones are around, it is more important to teach and live than it is to have a home where nothing can be touched or put out of place. Our lives are real, and so is the mess… but, more importantly, so is the love.