Post by Anjanette Barr, Contributing Writer
I had been married for almost three years and was desperately in love with my life. My sweet little boy had a permanent place on my hip and I couldn’t wait for my husband to come home so that I could tell him about every second of fun we’d had during our day. I’d never felt so fulfilled, so womanly, or so confident in my purpose before.
But every time I saw the kitchen sink overflowing with dirty dishes, or the mountain of laundry, or the ring forming in the toilet bowl, my heart sank and I battled with despair.
I loved being a wife and I loved staying at home with my son, but I felt completely unequipped to be a homemaker.
My husband knew that those things were difficult for me (not like he could miss it!) and was wonderfully sweet about not making me feel worse than I already did. Still, after three years of listening to me groan over every chore, he reached his breaking point.
You Are Making This Too Difficult!
We stood together chatting in the kitchen after dinner one evening and I felt the guilty internal nudge I always felt when I knew I should be doing something to remedy the mess that surrounded us. I half-heartedly rinsed a few dishes and then turned to the stove-top, which was covered in crumbs and food spills. I love to cook and use my stove top for every meal, so even though it had only been two days since I cleaned it, it really looked disgusting.
I grabbed a rag and my bottle of kitchen spray and brushed the crumbs into the trash can as we spoke. But then I stopped. I hated this part. It took so much elbow grease to rub away the baked on food and I was already so tired. I turned to my husband and lamented that I just hated how much work cleaning the stove-top was and I wish it didn’t take so much time.
I was surprised to see that the expression on my husband’s face was not the tolerant look I was used to. And then he shocked me by abruptly grabbing the rag and spray from me and saying, “It’s just not that hard. You are making this too difficult!”
My first reaction was indignant anger. I wanted to throw a sassy retort back his direction and call him a meany, honestly, but I was too stunned to say anything and I just watched him clean. And goodness, did he CLEAN! I stood with my mouth open as he scrubbed that stove-top until it sparkled… in about 60 seconds.
We didn’t actually have a conversation about cleaning that night. He tossed the rag in the sink and went off to do something in another room and I stood fighting back tears and trying to decide if I was more angry at his harsh demeanor or the point he’d made.
I won’t say I was convinced then and there that I had been making mountains out of mole-hills – my pride needed a little time to recover from the trauma – but I did get the rest of the dishes finished in record time that night.
He later apologized for losing his patience, but by then I felt I owed him a thank you. Something in my thinking changed drastically in the days following our little melodrama. Every time I was tempted to balk at a task, I got this image in my mind of my husband scrubbing away, plowing through the obstacle like it was nothing. It was tremendously a tiny bit irritating at first, but without my familiar excuses to fall back on, I pretty much just had to complete each job – like it or not.
Just Do the Next Thing
In the years since those mountains crumbled (praise Jesus!), I have not become the world’s most amazing homemaker. In fact, when we announced that we were moving (from Kansas City to Alaska!) and shared the floor plan of our new condo on Facebook, a friend lost no time in replying with, “Oh no! What are you going to do? Now there will be TWO bathrooms to clean!” Yes, sigh…
Still, things DO get clean, even with two more children to “motivate” me. 🙂 I have learned to tackle tasks whole-heartedly and I try to make it my goal to be as thorough as I can be at top speed. I know that if I work hard and fast, I’ll be able to move on quickly.
And most importantly, I no longer feel hope falter when I write out my to-do list or enter my kitchen after an evening entertaining friends.
Instead of taking in the full scope of all of the things that could use my attention in my home at any given time, I look at every small task as a project that I can knock out in no-time.
My personal homemaking motto has become, “just do the next thing.”
When I unload the dishwasher I think, “Done! Wohoo!” I do a little mental victory dance and then think, “ok. Next?” And then I start a load of laundry. “Wohoo!” All day long.
Just let me know when you are coming over so that I can close the door to the second bathroom.