But today I really wanted to write something about how I'm trying to be a housewife, sort of, and I was
looking at some other blogger's posts and suddenly something hit.
Mary and Martha!
That's it! That's the angle to write this from!
If you're not familiar with the story in the Bible of Mary and Martha here's a link. In summation Jesus visited their home, they're sisters, and while Martha was slaving away in the kitchen preparing food for their guests, Mary was sitting at Jesus' feet listening to his teaching. Martha gets fed up of not having help and asks Jesus to send Mary in to her, and Jesus gently reprimands Martha instead saying she's worrying about unnecessary stuff and that Mary's picked the better (to learn from Him.)
Truth is I am and have always been a Mary. Now I don't mean I don't ever worry and I am always righteously listening to Jesus. But truth be told I just don't get the Marthas much. They are so stressed, they worry, they nitpick, they judge and it makes me want to retreat to Jesus. I feel always hassled to give up what is "better" to focus on their unnecessary (but not necessarily wrong- I mean, feeding Jesus and his friends was a nice thing to do) stresses. Truth is most Christian women are Marthas. I love them very much, don't get me wrong, as I'm sure Mary did! And Martha owned the home, and I think Marthas are often the more accomplished and successful in many ways. I envy the Marthas a lot, I never seem to get my act together when it comes to practical stuff. (I always thought it was funny but also perfect for our generation that Martha Stewart has that name. Seems to be an association there!) But for me the practical drudgery type tasks like getting food on the table and keeping a clean task hold no appeal.
|Ryan accuses the kittens of making the mess worse. Truth is he's |
right... but they also make me laugh and de-stress me, so they make
the housewifery less of an ordeal and make up for it!
However, my husband is a Martha.
Oh how he is a Martha.
Now, one thing you should know about Martha. She also had amazing faith! See this Mary and Martha had a brother: Lazarus. If you're unfamiliar, Jesus brought Lazarus back from the dead! But before he did, he was approaching their house and Martha heard he was coming and ran out to meet him and says that she believes if he'd been there Lazarus wouldn't have died, that she believes even now God would do what Jesus asks and then proclaims Him to be the Son of God. That revelation, when Peter gave it elsewhere, Jesus proclaims could only come from the Father! You can read that story here. The tale of Mary and Martha is not one where Martha= bad and Mary= good. No, they are both wonderful women of great faith and it'll be awesome to meet them someday. It's just they have different personalities and therefore different weaknesses.
Housework is the #1 thing Ryan and I fight about.
My husband, Martha, can't concentrate if the house isn't clean. He freaks out that he's starving if I serve cereal (or other easy peasy stuff) too often. So he heckles me about it. And the truth is, I totally agree that stuff should be my department. For one, Ryan doesn't really know how to make anything but cereal on his own. (I have now taught him how to make eggs and tea, but before meeting me he didn't know how to make that.) Secondly, Ryan's the one with the full time job who is providing financially the roof over this house. Also, as the husband he's the head of the household so if he's thinking something is important it'd be wrong of me not to listen... not that I ever really haven't thought this stuff wasn't important. I just think other stuff is more important, so sometimes the dishes and laundry pile up and we eat the same food several days in a row.
|I *do* try though.|
Now here's where I can't possibly project my own weaknesses on Mary. Probably Mary was an accomplished cook; I have no idea. But I suck at housewifery. Yep, I said it. I'll put in four hours of work in a row and it'll look like someone else's 30 minutes. I think mainly this is because I get distracted halfway through. I go into the kitchen and see the full sink and start washing dishes, but then while I'm washing a mug I remember that mug I left in the living room, and while I'm retrieving it I notice the sweater Ryan left on couch. So I take it to the hamper in the bedroom and kittens distract me asking me for food. So I give them food and notice their litter box smells. I scoop it and take the trash out and then stand there and go, "What was I doing again?"
"Good enough" has always been "good enough" for me, but Ryan was raised by a Martha who thinks there's no such thing as "good enough" there's only "perfect" so mentally he's rejects the standards I feel are reasonable for him to hold me to... And the truth is I stress out when I clean. Like I feel it emotionally and even physically due to the effect of stress on the body. One hour of cleaning exhausts me like three or, no really five hours of another activity. It wipes me out. I am not exaggerating. I just don't have it in me to throw myself into cleaning with any sense of pleasure or satisfaction. My issues with it run deep. I can appreciate the beauty of clean things, but the work involved in achieving that look makes me feel as strung out and emotionally spent as someone else might after spending hours consoling with someone in the throws of grief or depression. I do think it feels similar, actually, having been around both, but I prefer dealing with the emotionally bankrupt because at the end of that I feel like I've really accomplished something. After a day cleaning the house I feel like crying because I know that in a day or two there will be no evidence left that I did it in the first place and I'll have to do it again! It seems like the definition of "vanity! vanity!"
I actually thinking cleaning (or rather, the need to clean) is the clearest, least able to be ignored mark of The Fall on this world. Nothing, nothing, nothing will stay clean/pristine/whole without caretaking. Everything gets dirty, rusts, breaks. "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal." Only two things we encounter are eternal: people and God. So I'd much rather invest my time in one of those than in making sure my counter shines! (See these are the Mary thoughts I have while I'm angrily scrubbing the pot I've already cleaned three times this week.) Still, I know that when I clean I am investing a teeny tiny bit in a person: Ryan. And maybe in being welcoming to a guest, but we rarely have people over.
|another cute pic of the kittens being "in the way"|
Because while I don't really care about cleanliness and fanciness, I do care about Ryan and his opinion of me and his overall happiness. But the truth is the only days he's really happy with how the house looks is days when I've done nothing else. And I don't think God's called me to clean and cook day and night. Honestly I believe this blog, other writings, shining His light through social media, praying intentionally, and being available to others for conversation is actually a deeper calling of God on my life. So while I want to please Ryan, I need to please God first, right?
Luckily, intellectually and spiritually Ryan agrees. He tells me not to neglect my writing. But emotionally he gets freaked out and upset if he sees the house a mess. He really can't function if it gets under his skin. The other day we stayed home on a Sunday morning because he got up before me and started cleaning the bathroom while I was asleep and it wasn't done to his satisfaction in time for us to leave, and so instead of leaving it half done and finishing it that afternoon, we didn't go. Seriously?? I admit I was really frustrated him. Not only did he take away my chance for fellowship and friendship, but also his "having" to clean the bathroom seemed like the biggest condemnation of his satisfaction with me as his helpmeet.
I just do not have it together enough to both be a successful writer and a successful housewife yet. There are just not enough hours in a day! And not enough cohesiveness in my brain. I do think I am capable of it, but I think it'll be like getting fit from being a total couch potato: you don't just get up and run a marathon. It's a day by day stretching of your limits, and there has to be rest days. And there will be a few setbacks. But if you endure, you'll get there, right? At least, you'll get to "running a marathon" within the limits of your body and your life. And truthfully due to my issues with cleaning and my personality type I think I'm never going to be a prize athlete. But I do think I'll get to the point where I can cross the finish line... but Ryan has expectations of fast time and that's laughable. But I'm trying. I'm also trying, in as gentle and non-resentful way guide Ryan to lower his standards, that is, to coach him away from being too Martha in this. Jesus did tell Martha Mary picked the better way, right?
I do honestly think we're getting better, at least by an iota. I think Ryan's starting to realize he's got Martha's issue (for months he was convinced he was the normal, sensible one and I was the crazy one.) I totally already knew I had issues, my struggle was not with denial but just with managing those issues.
|See, I can make yummy things. ;-p|
But I think that is totally another post, and one I'll probably write soon. But I think I've finally gotten this one down. This blog is in many ways calling on you all to witness my life and the truth is this is a huge thing in my life. It's a battleground and it'd be silly to not let you know it's been going on. And it's gotten worse since I got dengue and couldn't even lift my head. I am only just recovering from that really.
You know how I know? It was only this past week that I caught up on laundry. Yep, that's right, I had dengue back in September but hadn't caught up on the laundry until this week! At first it was just fatigue and exhaustion, from the dengue and then realizing oh wait, I'm pregnant and it was first trimester exhaustion. Then I was *nearly* caught up before Lydia's visit, but then water went out in our building for five days (yep, that happened. It sucked.) So we had at least a week's worth of laundry piled up when she arrived... bringing with her clothes that needed to be washed. I think we had even more laundry piled up after she left than we had had before she came because adding her clothes in (and she wanted to get them all cleaned before she packed them up, understandably) put our own laundry on the backburner. Also, our cats went through a deciding to pee on the bed phase, adding more laundry to the pile. And then the winter fog came, making everything take forever to dry... and the layering of the winter means we're literally producing twice as much laundry each day then we do during the warm weather. Sigh. So I only finally got it caught up this past week (THANK GOD!)
But obviously the dengue and first trimester fatigue wreaked havoc on me, housewifery wise. I was actually starting to get into a rhythm, I think, pre-dengue, but I totally lost it and haven't found it again yet. So that's one of my focuses right now. I want to get managing the house down to the, well, mangeable level. So you know, when the baby is born we all don't die of being buried in laundry and dishes. Haha.