When you become a mom it’s like the last little bit of selfishness that you managed to hide or disguise from your spouse gets eradicated and put on display. They say “if momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy,” and I believe that is absolutely true…if you substitute joyful for the word “happy.” When my heart is selfish and grumpy and discontent, the whole family feels it. Yea I’m a stay at home mom and I wipe bottoms and feed hungry bellies and clean crayon off the walls, but my responsibility is ultimately to be the pulse checker, gatekeeper, and pace setter for the family.
When I’m flipping out, there is no one checking, keeping or setting anything for our family except chaos, control issues, selfishness and greed.
This is real y’all. I know that sometimes just writing these lofty ideas and confessions makes it seem so foreign. But let me just give it to you straight up, here’s my real life confession: I hate hate hate a dirty kitchen. I hate when MY kitchen is dirty and I have the habit of letting it steal my joy. The kitchen is the heart of our home; I need (want) it to function at it’s most efficient and that means I need (want) it to be clean. Cleanliness leads me to order and peace, that’s just how I’m wired.
But when my clean kitchen is the cornerstone of my peace, what space do I leave for the Holy Spirit’s work of peace within me?
That picture up there represents a mommy milestone for me. My kitchen stayed like this all day long. All day. For most people this isn’t a big deal, but for the Monica Gellars this is huge. (and if you haven’t watched Friends, just stop and go binge it on Netflix right now, this is a pop culture icon and you can’t miss it) I know I sound like a neurotic crazy woman. I think that some moms struggle to care about housework and some moms struggle not to care so much. And that latter mom…she’s me. Please please hear me clearly on this: I genuinely do not care about the cleanliness of your kitchen or your house, this isn’t about some passive womanly competitiveness or judgement on how things should be done. This is about balance and joy in the middle ground and how very very illusive it is for me, the personal, actual me: Katy Tullos.
I tend to live between the extreme poles of ALL OR NOTHING.
I am who I am. I like the house clean. The tricky side of that coin is that sometimes houses can’t be clean. Sometimes you have to run out the door for preschool pick up with a sink and full of dirty dishes. Sometimes you have to choose between family time and folding laundry. Sometimes you get the chance to have friends over and you can’t do an overhaul of the entire house first. Sometimes you have to choose.
Sometimes you have to choose.
Boom. And that’s where it all comes crashing down for me on a bad day. I’m a chronic pick-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps, make-it-happen, get-stuff-done girl. This is both my greatest strength and weakness. Because for girls like me, when there are only square pegs and round holes, we just force the thing and then end up really really frustrated. It sends me into this cycle of striving, striving, striving. It’s not good for anyone.
Typically, I chuck joy out the window and burn out from all the striving and then just give up all together. But recently someone challenged me to find the middle ground. Maybe the kitchen is better off being sorta clean. Maybe the house can just get dirtier and dirtier all weekend so we can maximize that quality time together (and then Monday comes and we recalibrate hallelujah).
I have to loosen my grip. I’m strangling the joy in my own life and certainly not bringing any glory to God when my peace flows out of a bottle of multi-purpose cleaner instead of the Holy Spirit in me.
I have to let go of perfection and take the grace instead.
The middle ground is a different place for each of us. What is it that you need to loosen your grip on? Where do you need more grace and less striving? It prooobbbabblly isn’t a clean kitchen, but what is it that has the power to fuel or steal your joy besides the Lord?