Lately I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about “home”. I’ve come to realize I feel little peace and find few rewards in my day job, but often discover great joy and focus when I am at home.
This is no coincidence, I am sure. And I often feel a little guilty about my drive to do things around the house.
I tend to get a little embarrassed when I talk about my “to do” list or write about tackling chores at the end of the day. It makes me feel as if I only focus on the menial. It makes me feel as if my life is about the small, tiny tasks and not the big picture. It also makes me sound very obsessive-compulsive. Don’t try to convince me otherwise, I read this blog too.
However, as I stew over this thought and for that matter what you must be thinking, I realize that perhaps it’s not as shallow as it might seem on the surface. It’s my home, afterall, it’s our refuge. It’s our safe place. It’s where we build memories.
And after reading an article by Lindsay Crandall at Art House America, it all came together for me. Comments like “labor is good for the soul” and “housework is important work” resonated with me. It made sense.
This is that sense of reward that I get each night when I settle in, knowing that Cynical has fresh clothes for the morning; that our garden is watered; that our bed is fresh, clean and welcoming us; that our dishes are washed and ready for the next meal; that our towels are fresh and folded for us as we are about to start our day; and that things have been tidied up and put away, clearing our path. It’s not that everything is perfect. It’s not that everything is “just right”. It’s just that sense of making a home, that sometimes intangible feeling of order and place, that brings us peace.
As Crandall said, it’s about being hospitable to ourselves, and to our potential guests. I’d never looked at it that way.
I am sure that my chore impulses are not solely due to this noble cause. I know that some of my habits come from the deep-seeded self-loathing that I tend to wallow in and the desire to dig out of that, to be good enough, to work hard enough, to be organized enough and neat enough. I know, in part, it comes from also being a “collector” of sorts, filling my house with a lot of stuff that just simply needs to be managed.
I do clearly realize that I am calmer, happier and more at peace when things are in order. I know this about myself. It’s what makes me organize my stuff in the hotel room, stack my magazines neatly and feel the need to toss everything in the fridge.
I also know, however, that I also find great joy and accomplishment in making things for my house; and creating a space I want to be in that is expressive of both of us. Whether it’s a knitted dishcloth, a painted jar or a garden or muffins from a mix, I find reward in doing it myself and building something unique to us.
I’m not alone in this, am I? Pinterest is proof enough. We all want that sense of doing, doing for our families, ourselves and our homes.
Of course this also feeds the need in me to make something useful out of something collecting dust. It’s a treasure hunt and engineering challenge all wrapped into one. Whether it be corks or old jars, I like finding a use for them, a sense of place for them, a reason for having this or that.
Last night I tackled the film that seems to be plaguing our dark, high shine floors. It’s silly, I know, but it was eating at me. I literally envisioned the judging faces as they entered the door. Faces scowling at my filmy floors. Silly. I know.
And as I crawled around, dragging a bowl of rubbing alcohol and baby shampoo, wiping down each board, I realized it was less about “them” and more about me. I couldn’t wait to show Cynical our shiny floors. I couldn’t wait to hear him say the house smelled good. I couldn’t wait for him to be home. And honestly, I couldn’t wait to brag about “what I’d done”.
As I sank into bed after my floor cleaning tirade, I felt that wonderful sense of accomplishment. I enjoyed the breeze coming through the window, listened to the cat tossing her toy around and realized that this is home, my home. . . a home without cloudy floors. And it was good, very good.