Let the Sunshine in

I love it when the sun shines in the windows.  We haven't seen the sun for several days, so today it is even more brilliant and welcome.  I love how it casts rectangles of light on my floor and how you can see the particles of dust and lint and whatever it really is in the beams.  It is warm and it is welcome.  Sunshine has a way of lifting spirits. 

Even better is when the sun shines into a clean room.  There is also something about clean and orderly that lifts spirits.  The other morning I returned home from running and walked into the house...right into the kitchen.  It was so clean and the house was so quiet and I just stood there to soak it all in for a moment, knowing full well that it would not look the same in about an hour or less.  Mathilda and Julia had cleaned the kitchen well before going to bed the night before and seeing it in this state was a fantastic way to begin the morning.  You know...the kind of morning when the little birds are chirping, the aroma of coffee is bold, it is quiet enough to hear the hum of the refrigerator.  The kind of morning when all seems right, and a reminder of what a wonderful home I have, what an amazing and beautiful family I have.

It is often difficult to maintain that attitude.  When it's gloomy and gray outside, when each room has evidence that the tenants are still in the learning phase of returning things to their place of origin, disposing of garbage, wiping up spills, and even just taking a mere extra second to toss a towel down the stairs or put a dish into the sink.  I don't know why it bothers me so much, after all, I don't have the best habits of returning things to their specified storage spot when I am done.  I guess I know that I will be the one to do it when it is done, so I notice more when someone else doesn't.  There are 10 of us living in this house right now--and a dog.  That's a good amount of people in one space.  It is bound to get messy...even dirty, and that is normal.  I don't really ever mind walking into someone else's home when it is in disarray.  I honestly don't really even notice.  It just looks like it is lived in...like this family must have other things going on outside of keeping their house spotless and organized.  I'm sure if I opened their linen closets, the towels might not be arranged perfectly and labeled as if I was in Martha's home.  I don't expect their homes to be orderly and spic and span...why do I expect that of myself?  Why is it hard to open the door and welcome someone in without apologizing for the floor that hasn't been scrubbed, or the dishes in the sink, or the breakfast that is still on the table...or even more consistantly, for the pile of laundry that is on the couch, as I'm sure it was there last time they stopped by!  I have five loads a day for pitty sake...there's bound to be laundry to fold somewhere!  Tim always says, "This is how we live."  That always upsets me, because this is NOT how we live.  Maybe that's my problem.  Maybe I'm in denial.  Maybe I have to add a "for now" to that and it will magically be ok. 

I struggle with allowing it.  If I allow us to live like this for now, what am I teaching my kids?  To be slobs?  To not pitch in and pick up the laundry on the steps instead of stepping over it?  To start using the Christmas dishes because there aren't any regular ones clean in the cupboard?  How does that affect them later in life?  Am I teaching them to be irresponsible?  OR, by not getting so worked up about it, am I teaching them to enjoy the small things and not resent waking up in the morning because they just have to clean AGAIN! 

I'm not sure when I went through the transformation to needing to have a super clean environment.  My parents are both adimant that my room always looked like a tornado hit it.  (I don't remember it quite like that)  I think the world probably has Martha Stewart and Pottery Barn to thank for the idea of the ideal way a home should look.  Funny thing is that I know that I'm not the only one who feels like this.  In a recent conversation with friends, we talked about that almost stressful need to have our homes be clean and neat and orderly...and the importance of letting go of it too.  One of the girls commented on how liberating it was to finally open her door and not apologize once for the state of her home when she was in the midst of a deep clean, so everything was out.  The ORKIN man came today.  I didn't remember he was coming, so of course I didn't clean up before hand.  "Hmm" I thought.  "A good opportunity to practice being OK with the condition of my home."  After all, the kids were not in school and they were all up, so the house was full.  Every room that I stepped into was a disaster.  Breakfast on the table (and the floor).  No wonder there are ants.  Laundry all over the couch and chairs.  Beds not made.  Toys out all over the floor downstairs.  And the laundry room?  Good luck finding a path to walk in that room!  Shoes covering the floor of the mudroom.  Dishes in the process of making their way to the dishwasher.  Clothes and wet towels covering the floor and vanity in the bathroom.  SIGH.  Another day in the Andreasen home.  Why doesn't anyone come to my door between the hours of 11pm and 7 am?  It is clean then...cleaner at least!  I did pretty good.  I didn't say anything for the longest time, and then I couldn't help myself.  "I would apologize for the messes, but it will look like this when you come again next month."  Not silent, but maybe just a half apology?  It is consuming I guess.  Sadly.  Boy, what would happen if I put as much time into prayer as I do into worrying what my house looks like.  I think my home is a reflection of who I am.  Maybe who I am is a reflection of my home. 

I must remember, as Tim gently reminds me often:  "Teach.  Continue to teach.  Getting mad about it is not going to make your day better."  He says, "Set a goal to have laundry done in 18 years."  I guess that kind of puts it into perspective.  Seems maybe I would have more time to play if I broaden the time frame of my goals.  :)  In the broad scheme of things, it's just a house.  It is more important to focus on who dwells here.  Maybe I need to let the sunshine in me, through my windows, and focus on Who dwells here.