Keeping Track Of Joy

Sunday afternoon we had a crew for lunch. I stood in the kitchen doing dishes and a young man – young as in dating and probably hoping to get married soon – propped his elbows on the counter and leaned in towards the sink. “So, how is marriage and being a mom?”

Asked because he wasn’t exactly sure what else to discuss with a mom with a litter of children, washing dishes after feeding nine people lunch.

I said it was awesome. Because it is. I said marriage just gets better year after year. I said raising kids is hard and rewarding. I said, “I’ve learned that I am not the judge of my husband and that my job is to walk beside him and forgive and encourage and remember and give and not act like I’m the one to help him change or be someone different, etc. It sounded pretty good. I was impressed with my answer. I think I made him feel good about marriage and kids.

Well, that was Sunday. If he would have propped up those elbows Wednesday lunch.
I was mad as a hornet at the mess in the house. Mad as a hornet that stuff was thrown all over. Shoes and clothes and pickling supplies. Towels and bathing suits. Books and pencils. Always pencils everywhere. Projects unfinished. Tools scattered from one end of the house to the other. There was some string and tape and glue and straws because someone wanted to make something that never got made. Rolled up maps and notebooks with stories and songs and records of veggies from the garden and stories of the chicks littered the floor.

There were veggies piled high on the counter and tiny pieces of shredded cabbage on the floor. For real guys, “I am NOT the maid.” Heaps of unfolded laundry stashed away tipped the iceberg of toilets in need of scrubbing and floors covered in dog hair and crumbles of cinnamon bread (that my sweet George Wilder had made for our snack so why not go ahead and dash my hopeful chef’s dreams by huffing about over the cinnamon crumbs). And we could all work so hard in the garden, but no one wants to help keep the house tidy!

I wanted to be right and wanted everyone to take note of the disgruntled mother and quickly jump to attention and swing magic wands to fix the situation of life overflowing.

One of the wonderful things about being married to George -- he always hunts and searches for the truth of what is going on and he wasn’t going to let me just throw away all the awesomeness for a mess.

That doesn’t mean he is clean and it doesn’t mean he wanted to clean it up just perfectly for me. He didn’t and doesn’t and won’t try to do it the way I do it.
He knew that my rambling frustrations were not about a mess.

We were scheduled to eat dinner with friends and had to go. I washed tears off my face. I wanted to stop crying so my face wasn’t swollen and pathetic when we arrived for dinner.  I stepped it up a notch and decided to dig a little deeper into my very sad soul to see what I could find to be the problem.

Suddenly, I felt it. I knew it. I’d lost joy. I’d lost the joy of this life that is piling, mounting, overfilled with incredibleness (my word that you are more than welcome to borrow if you’d like).

I had lost the joy in the mess.
I’m thankful to my George for willingly admitting he isn’t very tidy about his projects and that he isn’t really aware of the mess that things create, but he isn’t willing for me to just rattle on about the mess that everyone is making without having a resolve or a fun plan or a sweet way to address the things that I seem to find so very important to our well being.

Thursday morning, I woke ready to tackle just one little piece of the pile – with joy. The children are responsible to “sweep” the front and back porch. The day before, George Wilder had swept the front porch – around pants and cups and shoes and plastic bags and tools. He just left them there and swept around them and certainly didn’t reach into corners. It was one of the reasons I’d been so disgruntled.
I took the children out to the front porch and told them to watch and learn. They sat holding Hannah while I “swept” the porch. I walked through the entire process of what exactly I expected from them when they had porch duty. They loved it. We had the best time looking to see how easy and silly it was to take care of such a simple task that I had not really shown them how to do before.

Tonight, the dishes are done. The floor isn’t vacuumed. There are some notebooks and games and books and pencils here and there. Always the pencils. The laundry is mostly done, but there is also some laundry stashed. . . And I’m eating chocolate chip cookies and smiling and heading off to bed.


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