Where is my “To-Do” List on my Priority List?

I am a bit list addicted…
I learned a while back that the best way for me to stop that droning litany in my head of what I have to do that so often drowns out the quiet little jewel-moments that creep up like little gifts, without demanding my notice or competing with the “so much to do, so much to do” is to make a list. Then I can banish the repetition and trying-to-remember from my mind and I am free to focus on those treasures that disappear so quickly as my children grow from one beauty to the next.
But then I fall into hyper-organizing my list, trying too hard to streamline, and complicating what is simple… I try to put it in order of priority, of time required, of oldest to newest… and in reverse. Sometimes I spit on my hands and make a list of things that “I *will* get all this done today”. And again I miss the moments of joy; in misapplied efforts to serve, I fail to enjoy those I want to bless. And what they really want, what they really *need*, is to be enjoyed.
I am learning to walk the line between two things I see as important. I want a clean home for my family. We all enjoy cleanliness, it is easier to relax, easier to be happy, easier to play… and in maintaining a clean home, I am tailoring their “comfort zone” if you will, for the level of cleanliness that they call “normal”, and that will become habit for them as they have their own homes 20 years from now. I train them and give them responsibility in the daily things that it takes to have a clean home, and these things will become automatic habits for them, things that aren’t chores or tasks to be learned but are just part of everyday life. But I love to clean, and I love to have things “just so”, and it is hard on me to accept that with 7 young children they just won’t BE “just so”. I keep thinking that I can do it if I try “just a little bit harder”. And I probably could. But at what cost?
Because on the other side of that line is the knowing that my children need most to be enjoyed, listened to, played with, taught, comforted, led… That these moments are only fleeting and that I will definitely regret missing them, and that a clean house will be a bitter consolation. And the knowing that I am shaping memories as well as present moments. Do I want memories of a clean house and a cranky, fussy, *driven* mama who never had time to play and wouldn’t let you muss the blanket on the couch? Or, when my grown children tell *their* children about “when they were little” do I want them to tell stories of laughter, and cuddles, and games, and learning, and deep talks about heart issues, and crying together…
Do I want to inspire nostalgia, or of gladness to escape?
And I am struck again with a quote from an article:
“you’d think “tending the flower garden” was a fruit of the spirit.”
I am guilty of that. Judging my own and others’ spirituality and successfulness by housekeeping, scheduling, color-coordinated-ness…
But what did Jesus say?
Is *that* love?
Now I will say that having a clean home *is* love, it is serving my family, providing them the pleasantness that comes with cleanliness. But it is when that supersedes the loving and the enjoying and the *living* that it becomes that which robs me of my family, and my family of me.
So today, I made my list. It is a list of things that need to be done. It is a list of things that I would *love* to get done today. But the test comes when I make the list, and walk away to change the babies’ diapers while the kettle heats for our oatmeal, and come back to find my kitchen gravelled by a child who finds the sparkles in the granite so very pretty. Will I fume about the mess, and bustle to sweep it all away, and be grouchy about how the sweeping is taking time that I could be spending on accomplishing my List? Or will I smile into those loving little eyes, and see the dusty little hands that labored to bring beauty into Mama’s kitchen, thank them for the love-driven work (oh that I could learn more of this love-driven work that these beauties walk in all the day!), and take the time to move the rocks together to a “better place”?
I already know that if I do the right thing today, if I make the right choices, if I am to go to bed with a clear conscience, then my list will not get finished.
I have to decide to be ok with that.
It is hard.
I am ashamed that it is hard.
So, I will try. I will look at my list every time I have a moment. I will choose the task that is best fitted to the needs of my family & to the time I have available, and I will choose a helper or two to learn with me how we “keep house”, and I will determine that this time is more about spending time enjoying working together than it is about having my house look like the pictures I see and covet of other’s homes.
And I will be content with doing my best, because if I am not, my children will feel that. And it is possible that they could come to the conclusion that our time together was worth less than a cleaner house.
Worth Less than a cleaner house.
Worth Less.
Is THAT what I want to say???

Posted on September 12, 2011, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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