I want my house to be clean and look fairly nice, but I used to feel very differently about the way my house looked. I obsessed about it too much. I wanted things to always be neat and cute, and I am not sure why or who I was trying to impress. Mainly, my efforts to create a "nice" house caused me stress because I could never make it look like the ones in the magazines, and I just decided, kind of gradually, that the stress wasn't worth it.
Now, I should qualify this blog post. If you're a person who needs a lot of order to be happy, then you shouldn't change yourself, of course. But, if you're like me and mainly just worry about how others might "judge" you for your house being a bit of a mess, then maybe it's okay to let go of that.
I've been trying for a long time to find balance in my life--balance between work, my boys, my husband, cooking (and no matter what Michael Pollan says, it takes me more than 20 minutes to make a home-cooked meal), work, our farming. It's hard to fit in cleaning most days. Plus, I have a little boy who loves to "decorate" with Legos. We also have a pretty big old house. It's not huge, but it's big enough that it seems impossible to have every room clean at once.
On top of this, while I am interested in decorating and enjoy one or two HGTV programs on Netflix (we're cord cutters to save money), in a big house, it's kind of costly to decorate, even when you're really frugal about it.
So, I made a choice. I decided that, to be happy, for me, I was just going to have let go of the notion that everything must be in order and beautifully decorated. Our house feels "real," and it's also warm and full of love. And color. We do seem to like color on the walls, and I might be a little too fond of orange. I'm pretty sure a decorator would hate it, but that's okay.
An epiphanic moment a couple of weeks ago has made me feel a lot better about my decision to let things go a bit. My youngest son drew a smiley face in purple marker on the windowsill. Interestingly, it was right above a crayon line that I had missed when he drew several crayon lines on the same windowsill a couple of years ago.
When he had drawn the original lines (he must have been about 4), I scolded him a bit, scrubbed and scrubbed the crayon marks, and told him not to draw on the walls.
When I saw the new smiley face on the windowsill, I noticed a crayon mark left over, one I had missed and then forgotten about. I realized there had been some crayon on that windowsill for like two years. And guess what? It didn't kill me. I didn't even notice it there. On top of that, I realized that the smiley face was, in fact, pretty awesome and that, ten years from now, I would give anything to have smiley face back. So I left it, decided to admire it, and took this picture of it. Now, I am memorializing it in this blog. Why not, right?
Thankfully, my husband and I are totally on the same page with this. He was like, "That is an awesome face." And that's how we roll...because we decided to roll this way.
I have two children, one is 19, and my youngest, the budding artist, is 6. I am no parenting expert, but I study people and listen to other parents as much as possible--and I read a lot as well. I will have more "sage wisdom" on parenting in other posts, perhaps, much of which may or may not be relevant to anyone else, but I do think I know this: You definitely want your kids to grow up to be good, kind, people--and happy people; but there are many ways to accomplish this. Why not enjoy the whole process along the way? We should at least try, right? I'm pretty sure that means not sweating the small stuff.
It took me awhile to get to a place where I do not sweat the small stuff, and I still do sometimes, though I try to catch myself. I think figuring out ways to slow things down has helped, and connecting with nature through our garden and animals has helped me as well. But, of course, there is no "right" path to living a patient, more thoughtful life. Each person is unique, but for me, honoring the smiley face on the windowsill is a step in the right direction.