Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The ever-illusive balance between people and stuff

If you are human.. wait a minute... all of you reading this are probably human. If you are a normal human or just a zany mom like me, you probably suffer from guilt. It's the kind of guilt that goes with the territory of having too much to do and too many people to love. When I'm working on things, I will often feel guilt about not spending more time with people. And, when I'm with people, I'm thinking about how much stuff I need to do.

When will I ever just start enjoying both?!!!

If you don't feel guilt, congratulations. Go read the blogs by people like you, the people who have it all together and don't feel guilt, and you can all meet together in one 8'X8' room somewhere and exchange good thoughts.

For the rest of us, what's to be done? Forgive me while I work through this in the presence of the entire internet community. Ah, the joys of being an utterly transparent extrovert and pathetic all at the same time...

So, getting back to the dilemma: people and stuff. things and relationships. duties versus love.

First let's talk about people. I love people. I really love meeting new people, but I enjoy the old too. I like working with people who have it all together, but I find certain comfort in people who are utter basket-cases, and everything in between. But people take time. and energy. and energy. did I mention energy?

And you really can't be too goal-oriented about people. No one really enjoys being a project--not even your kids. You have to be.. well... smooth.. not crunchy or bumpy or lumpy. Sometimes I feel lumpy bumpy. And I'm not just talking about my ever-growing muffin top. I say stuff. It flies out like crack from a campfire burning green wood. And then I wonder, "Who just said that?" And then the really sensitive people are like... offended. They aren't laughing because you have an elf on your shoulder telling you to say stupid stuff.

So, let's say I have an entire hour? where I haven't said something stupid, (like that would happen), and I think,
"Wow, I'm really getting somewhere with this person.." and "aren't I just the best?!" and other forms of nonsensical weirdness. Seriously, I think I would rather leave the conversation deflated than puffed up.

So, dealing with people takes a lot of energy: energy to be humble, to be in prayer, to be thinking on your feet and most of all, not listening to that elf on the shoulder.

So, now there's stuff. It's almost like God said, "There's only so much interacting any one female should do with the world, so I'm gong to make sure that most of her day is filled with stuff."

And we're always fighting against it, aren't we? If it's not the cry to "simplify" or "get organized" these days, what is it? I crave it. We all crave it. Order, simplicity, calm, clean homes.

So, we sit there and look at the piles and try to find some reason why we have them. We can't remember why we bought it, and we call it clutter. And then we remember. Oh yes, a family to feed--that's why I have kitchen things, And a family needs clothing--that's the laundry, ironing, mending portion of it. Oh and school--the 10 million school supplies, games, creative projects, and the list goes on and on.

And when you get right down to it, almost everything you still kept (after you have de-cluttered 17 million times) is exactly what you need. And all of the duties associated with the stuff: cooking, laundry, cleaning, schooling, ?? are exactly what you should be doing. And the time it takes to do all of that.. is.. probably exactly the way God wants you to spend your time.

And so that's it, isn't it? The key to this is accepting of his will for this stage in life: the stuff and it's responsibilities, and the time it takes to do them. And the people he brings along in whatever form or fashion he brings them (whether they are your own family, outsiders or a little of both) and all of the energy they consume from you. And for the guilt, I'm not sure that will ever go away. Perhaps, it's inherent in the description of motherhood.

Motherhood: the time of your life where you have never performed better in all areas of your life, and yet, very rarely have enjoyed it because of constantly feeling like you have never done your best or measured up to your own standards.

I would like to think that those who have reached grandparenthood can look back with glassy eyes and a hazy look and say, "I was a good mother, wasn't I?" and really mean it. Until then, I'd like to think that God smiles with love and compassion every time he looks down a mother, even if she's a pathetic extrovert with an obnoxious elf on her shoulder.


Mrs. Parunak said...

Love it. This one is so charming and so true. I especially loved your line, "Ah, the joys of being an utterly transparent extrovert and pathetic all at the same time..."

I was reading all gushily, and I got to the end and had to laugh at myself because, sure enough, this was another "highbrow" post. You know how I always love your highbrow posts.

Jena Webber said...

Mrs. P, I write these ONLY for you, since you are the only one who "gets it". The rest of my readers aren't being gushy; they are just glad I'm not in the home yet. LOL. Unfortunately, this is as high brow as the girl gets. I'm back to cleaning my dungeon and knitting.

Nicole {tired, need sleep} said...

I loved this post. You articulated perfectly so many thoughts running around in my head lately about exactly the same thing. I no longer need to write my own post about this, I can simply direct people here. (Well, I'll probably still write my own post, but I'll include a link here for sure. ;)) And I have to say I laughed out loud when I saw it was labeled "high brow". Love it!

Anonymous said...

The joys of being an utterly transparent extrovert and pathetic all at the same time...

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Jennifer said...

Hi, again... You will understand that with my brood (4, 3, and 1) I don't get here often, but thank you for your thoughts! You are so funny and your post was the laugh I needed (was coming up the stairs to 3 neighbor children I don't know IN MY HOUSE! The oldest is 1!). Thanks!