Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Not Keeping Up with the Joneses, part deux


I'm 80% back to where I was, oh, almost 3 years ago. Back in the Summer good ol' 2010, when we first bought this place, I was kinda kicking butt and taking names farm/garden/house-wise. Between Bill and I, we kept the lawn mowed, the flower beds mostly weeded, and the critters and kids safe, well fed and generally presentable. Darn those were good times!

Fast forward to the present. The yard is straight-up out of control, the girls are old enough to dress and style themselves, for better or worse (trust me, sometimes it's worse!), the house hasn't had a top-to-bottom cleaning since I don't know when, and the laundry... sweet baby jeebus, the laundry.

I feel like I'm treading water. I get the house mostly caught up, then it's time to put the garden in, and the house falls massively behind. Then the reverse happens, it's Autumn, and I can mostly quit stressing about the yard and garden and focus on the house, then a metric crap-ton of leaves fall and the rains hit and turn our yard and garden into muck soup, which will take massive cleanup come Spring...and the cycle continues.

I can't keep up. I can't mentally juggle the nutritional needs of four humans and 50+ critters and keep my carpet vacuumed and have a clean car and volunteer at the girls' schools and make my own cheese and keep my sanity. Something has to give.

So this school year, I didn't volunteer. So far, I haven't made cheese, though that is not something I want to give up, I just can't find the time for it just now, and my loss is the pigs' gain - they're big fans of our goat milk. My car is littered with latte cups and other weird odds and ends, and has a trunk full of clothes that I've been meaning to drop by the Salvation Army for, seriously, months now. On the whole, it doesn't bother me too much, because I know what my priorities are and why, but to the outside observer who doesn't know the backstory on our year of crap, it probably looks like I'm a giant slacker and a half-assed mom, and that bothers me.

So what do I do? Do I run myself ragged trying to keep up appearances when, deep down, I'm not terribly bothered by the fact that I have a dandelion forest in my front yard and a ring-around-the-tub? Or do I focus on the stuff that I feel really satisfies me - canning weird flavors of jam, knitting a million dishcloths, cooking from scratch and having dinner on the beach with my family?

It's no contest. I choose the experience of togetherness over the facade of always having it together.

Now, how do I make myself ok enough with my choice to hold my head up high and not explain or apologize for my messy car, my cluttered porch or my daughter's whack-a-doo self-styled hair? Seriously - how?

1 comment:

  1. The only "how" that seems to have worked for me is growing older, liking myself better, and learning to really not care what other people think. I hit 50 a couple of years ago, and since I had my kids in my late 30s, that means I still have school aged kids at home. I can't keep up with everything anymore. I feel like I run from one task to another and yet I still can't keep it all going like I used to, and my "used to" wasn't all that much to brag about!

    What I do is hold my head up high and constantly remind myself NOT to explain or apologize. No one really listens anyway and it makes me feel small and wrong. Since you are doing what you can according to YOUR priorities (which are spot on, btw), you should be PROUD! Acting proud is good, even if you have to fake it sometimes. Remember your drawer full of colorful knitted dishcloths (I have one too!), notice that your made-from-scratch meals are fabulous, and that your jam makes people swoon. Remind yourself of those things and still that nagging voice (mine sounds like my mom, who thinks my messy house makes her look bad for not training me "better").

    Keep practicing! Pretty soon you'll find you truly don't care about what other's think because you and your family are happy. The ones that are going to judge you aren't going to change their opinion if you offer excuses. They're just going to judge you more. Forget them. Once you quit volunteering at school and church, they'll eventually quit asking. Really. There's always younger blood coming along to do that stuff and people who make those things a priority in their lives. That's their thing, not yours.

    Hang in there. Keep doing what you are doing and have a dandelion salad while you're at it. It's an easy crop that grows without you having to do a darn thing!---Ann