Old Fashioned Elegance
Take what you like and leave the rest.
I don't know about the rest of you, but sometimes it feels like frustration lives with me.
Like earlier this week when I tried to clean the cats litterbox and the cats insisted on using it during the cleaning process.
Or when I had just finished actually scrubbing the kitchen within an inch of it's life, dishes and all, when my roommate smilingly brings in an entire tray full of used glasses from his study.
It's a conspiracy, make no mistake about it.
The Universe was not meant to be a clean place. Dis-order, chaos and dust are the rule, no matter what physics tells us.
In no place in nature do brooms exist of their own free will, nor do vacuum cleaners grow naturally in any corner of our planet.
Given the opportunity, all things attract dust, muddy dogs prefer the couch, sticky children are attracted to keyboards and spidermites prefer favorite plants.
Somehow, in our household, I was elected to work against tremendous odds, doing the impossible, fighting off the inevitable.
I don't remember volunteering, nor do I remember accepting the draft notification. It is my responsibility to keep the house shining and beautiful.
I've pondered about this for years (no comments please), but I have yet to come up with a solution.
I have thought of four basic ways to handle the situation, none of which are satisfying.
1) I ignore the situation entirely. I go and play with my art stuff or read my books and have a good time. This works, but only for a short time. Sooner or later I will want to wear clean clothes or drink from an unsullied cup. And it is depressing to live with unrelenting dinginess
2) Pay someone else to do the cleaning. This works only if you have a family budget which can afford such luxuries, which ours doesn't. I strongly suspect there still things that fall unattended to, anyway.
3) Blackmail other members of the household to do part or all of it. This is great theory, but it seldom works in the real world. My dogs cower at the sound of a vacuum cleaner, and so did my Ex. The cats simply Hate dishwater and so do children. Friends, however, can be trained not to date the messages they write in the dust.
4) Compromise. Do the best I can with the time I've got. It will never be perfect, but I might sometimes be able to make it livable.
The real trouble comes with expectations.
My EX used to say that I am sometimes too all-or-nothing in my thinking, and I suspect he was right. I want my home to be perfect, otherwise why bother?
I expect myself to be perfect.
I forget that I can't be.
I compare myself to Grandma Moses, Betty Crocker, Sister Wendy, Mother Teresa and Princess Di, all at the same time.
Even they only had to be one of them at a time.
Yet again and again, I forget that I cannot be perfect. I drive myself to distraction, trying to juggle two jobs, church work and community service, the household, my animals, artwork, reading, fixing up the house, and trying to do it all perfectly.
Instead, I collapse in a heap on the floor with dust bunnies larger than cats playing all about me.
I remember when I was a little girl, my mother would set me to folding the towels and then she would tell me a story when she was finished.
Nobody is here to tell me stories now, to reward my work, so I must remember them for myself.
I remember stories about a faerie named Alexandria who rode chipmunks as her steeds and glowed when the sun touched her.
I remember stories of a pony named Jack who took his rider by the seat of her pants down a lane to get home in time for dinner.
I remember stories of a pig named Billy Bumps who played with cats til they ran up a tree and left him alone in the grass.
Sometimes I sit on the porch with a dog under one arm, the little girl who lives upstairs under another, and a cat trying to sit on both laps at the same time.
We sit and watch the birds chasing each other and tell each other stories.
We go to a place of magic and giggling, and we leave the dishes to sit and the laundry unfolded.
In ten years, in fifty years, no one will remember if my floors were clean this day, or if the cabinets were neat.
But someone might know the name of the dog who snuggled with us, or remember the stories we told.
The necklace we made of clay & love might still be circling some other little girl's neck.
If you are looking to me for some words of wisdom, some magic spell which will help you to do it all, or to remember that you don't have to do it all, I can't help you.
If I knew it once, I have forgotten it.
I only know that sometimes, once in while, I remember, briefly. I remember to tell stories while I wash the dishes, recite poetry while I fold the towels, and to sit on the porch with a dog and a cat and a kid, watching the birds.
May you find the strength and time to do the same.
So Be It.