My Domestic Church: Why keep house?
When I was a little girl visiting my great grandmother's home, I innocently wandered down the hill to my great aunt's little house and popped in for a visit. My Aunt's house was a complete mess. Every free inch of space was cluttered, stacked or dirty. There was no place really to sit and no place really to put anything else. My aunt seemed properly embarrassed and apologized to me (which still stands out in my mind because I really was only a little kid of 8 or 9 at the time). She explained that she had not been well and so the house got away from her. I totally accepted that explanation. My dear aunt is sunny and sweet and probably one of the kindest women you would ever want to know, but her house never got any better and in fact she eventually moved from that house to a trailer, to another house - all because each one eventually became to full of clutter!
As a young woman, I remember visiting my sister-in-law's home while she was raising 4 healthy, happy and rambunctious children. Her house too was always in a state of chaos. Pleasant, happy, kid chaos but chaos nonetheless. I remember mentally wondering why she couldn't keep up her house any better. But she was a doer. She made clothes for her kids, she cooked all their meals, she helped at school, she photographed just about every significant moment in their lives and kept them in albums! Housekeeping was of lower priority. The result was 4 pretty amazing young adults who have become wonderful members of their communities and have warm memories of their time at home with their parents. And now my sister-in-law's house is very clean and orderly!
I like to think my house falls somewhere between these two. Although we did have our moments when it was astonishing to think that a child could learn to walk with all of the stuff on the floor, we did learn to manage taking care of kids and work and still keep the household in relatively good working order.
I am still learning and growing in this area and a certainly looking to keep a beautiful home. But as I read housekeeping blogs this year some of the things I read there just rubbed me the wrong way. The strict regimentation, the over scheduling of cleaning activities, the high standard of dust patrol; all of it just made me wonder is the housekeeper keeping house, or is the house keeping its keeper!?
Don't get me wrong. I know organization and a certain amount of scheduling is very important in running a household, but I think there is more to being a gracious homemaker than just having a spotless home. In fact I think if your house or regimens keep one from having an open and warm and friendly home, there's something wrong with that too. My aunt and my sister-in-law wouldn't have won any homemaking awards, but one never left their company without feeling blessed for having had a chance to spend a little time with them!
So I was pleasantly surprised to come upon the blogger at Plainsong's homemaking goals for the next year. I love that these are based on Mary's service to Elizabeth (all our housekeeping should be in the service of others and not to glorify us as super housekeepers!) I also love how she incorporates prayer and people into it, because that really is what it's all about! So if you're interested, drop by Plainsong and let her know. Share your plans on your blog. This may just revolutionize what gracious housekeeping really is!
Strive for these Goals
1. Invite the Blessed Mother to my home. . .daily, with a Memorare for the intention of asking her to visit me as she did her cousin, and to help me keep my eyes toward heaven.
2. Begin my day with a Morning Offering-to offer my all to God
2. Follow a simple organizational routine
3. Take on little things to help our household stay beautiful and joyful.
4. Write about household topics and link others' blogs who are motivational
1. Remember People are more important than things
2. Remember that messes look bigger than they are
3. Small things done in the home can add beauty
4. Stay real: we will never be perfect, especially with children around us
5. Keep a sense of humor
6. Forgive myself for imperfection and limitations, focusing on those thing I do accomplish