Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Felix the... mom?

Recent conversation openings between myself and others:
Person: wow, did you read about such-and-such at so-and-so’s website today?
Me: nope
Here’s another:
Person: did you see this link, this is amazing!
Me: nope

And another:

Person: oh I can NOT believe this, such-and-so is sponsoring/advocating/endorsing/promoting this (insert heretical trend du jour) insanity, did you read this?
Me: nope, I have no idea what you’re talking about

In a nutshell, I am more or less out of the loop more often than I am in it. What's more, is that it's on purpose. The thing is, I’ve been intentionally “downgrading” for the last several years. One day out of nowhere the Lord impressed on my heart that my plate was too full and my priorities were all out of whack and things HAD to change. What I mean by downgrading is simply letting go of or getting rid of things that aren’t needful to my spiritual growth, or to the benefit and blessing of my family. This hasn’t been an easy thing for me to do, because I’m a creative & inquisitve person and I’m happiest when I’m doing something with my hands to create, or researching something or learning something. The problem with that had been, the things I’d been busy spending my creativity and research on. To be sure there were benefits in what I was doing but in the overall picture the time they demanded of me took time away from the more important things, and that’s the issue.

One of the most frustrating things in trying to do this, was that I'd let something go only to replace it with something else similarly time consuming. So then I'd drop that and before long I'd be doing the same thing again. If I were to chart that out, you'd see a lot of spikes on the chart where this would happen, even though the main line on the chart would be consistantly going down. It's those pesky spikes that I have a hard time with.

Part of this downgrade was closing my chat room that I’d invested years into. It was just time to let it go. Along with that, closing the forum I once ran that had over 700 members. It was a huge blessing for a time but it also needed to come to an end. I also had to step down as forum moderator/manager for several other forums over the last few years as well. Something else that simply had to go, was Emergent No. I learned a monumental amount of information running that blog (if you’re going to refute modern nonsense trends, you better be willing to do the legwork required and the prayer work required to be sure you know what you’re talking about), and I know it blessed and educated a lot of people, but in the end it took a huge toll on my physical health (this stuff is stressful!) and had taken too much time away from other things. Besides, it was just time to let it go.

Letting things go also means I am so pathetically out of the loop on the latest evangelical controversy or blog hoo-haa, that I wouldn’t be able to follow the whole thing if I tried. I just don’t have the time to do that. Honestly, I really don’t have the desire either. It’s a lot easier to catch the Reader’s Digest version when it’s all over and ask someone to explain it in a brief summary.

So what are these other things that are more important? I’m so glad you asked! First and foremost they are my family. After them comes running my home and persuing my goal of making my home a place of good memories for my kids. That is no easy trick, since I’m a high-strung person with standards often too high for any normal person to attain, but the Lord’s working on me in that area as well. Sewing and quilting, homeschooling, around the house cleaning & repair projects – just having busy hands around my house. I’ve been known to lament the fact that I am a Felix Unger in a world of Oscar Madisons (and if you never watched The Odd Couple, that means Felix was a near-nuerotic, neat freak and Oscar was a happy-go-lucky slob), so lately my big project is to train my little Sloppy Oscars how to be Orderly Felixes. They’re even learning how beneficial it really is to be a Felix in that when things are being cleaned up & cleaned out, you find all kinds of stuff you thought you lost! Then, the added bonus to keeping things neat and orderly is that you always know where your treasures are located.

We’ve been quite diligent on the daily chore charts, and the daily 2 room plan. At first the kids all rolled their eyes like I told them we were going to have to eat cat food for dinner or something (yeah, like I've never said that before, pfft), but after day 1 and working together we had all the bedrooms, loft, upstairs bathroom & hallway, stairway, living room and dining room DONE in less than 1 hour, they were pretty excited to see the results AND to see how fast it got done. I must say, I was also quite impressed. Then, the cat pooped on the freshly vaccuumed living room carpet and I was no longer as impressed, as you can imagine. Just a small setback, but a truly disgusting one, at that.

I’ll freely admit that part of the reason I’m doing this is because I just can’t function in a messy house. It just drives me batty to not know where things are, to see messes in every room and watch the kids walk right past something on the floor & not pick it up. If spontaneous human combustion were ever going to happen to me, that’s the trigger right there. Some day, one of the kids is going to walk right past a sock or a scrap of paper on the floor, and just keep going... then FLOOOMFFF, mom will be a pile of ashes on the floor, 4 feet away. If you ever read about it in the papers, know this ahead of time - it was because of that sock, or scrap of paper that went neglected.

The other reason I’m doing this is purely for them. More than just about anything (other than to see them all persuing holiness and living for the Lord) I want them to know a solid work ethic, and what it means to be responsible, and to help out even if it’s not your own personal responsibility. I can’t tell you all how many conversations I’ve had with my 8 yr old genius who constantly reminds me that SHE didn’t make such and such mess, when I ask her to help clean it up. Well, says mom, I don’t wear your clothes so I don’t think I’ll sort, wash, dry & fold them anymore either. For that matter, (mom continues) I don’t eat your breakfast, lunch and dinner, so I don’t think I’ll be cooking for you. I also don’t read your books, play with your toys or wear your clothes, so I can’t see any logical reason for me to continue to buy those. I always get the same look when I say this. It’s the look that says “I know you’re right, and I don’t want you to be right but there’s not much I can do about it”. I have to remind her that if I took the same attitude she takes about helping out when it’s not benefitting you in any way (or you didn’t make the mess!), that there’d be some pretty miserable kids roaming around this house in clothes too small and dirty, with old books and broken toys... looking for someone to feed them (or snacking on cat food). Of course it’s my parental responsibility to provide for my kids (and in all honesty I’m stunned she hasn’t called me yet on my lousy analogy) but she gets the point. She just has to be reminded of it, consistantly.

In a house with this many kids, and a house this size (it’s a big ole farmhouse with enough room to get lost in, without even trying too hard. Kevin lost me tonight and I wasn't even trying to hide, go figure), it’s a lot of work to keep it orderly & clean. It’s a lot of work because I have 4.5 kids still at home who have issues with putting things back when they’re done with them, helping to clean up even if it’s not their mess, and who until now, have never really had it impressed upon them DAILY to do their own chores. Oh sure we tell them to clean their rooms & make their beds & all that, but 10 minutes later something else is happening and then I'm doing laundry and that sort of thing and I just forget to check and/or stay on them about getting thngs done. That’s my own fault for not being consistant until now. I say 4.5 kids because our 17 yr old is pretty good about this stuff about half the time. She’s 17, it’s a whole different talk show/therapy session there, and one I don’t have enough Advil to get into just now.

So with school starting in less than a week and knowing full well I turn into a scatterbrained banshee at the sight of a messy house, I really wanted to get us all into gear and get started on the new routine of keeping the place kept up. So far, it’s working quite well and I’m convinced once we get it down to memory without having to look at the charts on the corkboard (yes, I printed them out and put them on the board!), I think by then we’ll have it down to a fine art.

Once we get there, then it’ll be time for me to have the extra time in the day to get back to my quilt (yes mom, I’m still working on it!) and my sewing projects that have piled up on my sewing table to such a height that if you breath on it too hard, it will fall over and it’ll take you an hour to clean it all up. I made 2 pairs of comfy fleece pajama pants for the kids last winter and they were such a hit, they all want LOTS more. They’re really easy to make but they’re just one more project piled in the pile, since I haven’t been able to really get it together around here.

I’m hoping that’s a thing of the past & this is something that will continue to work well for us (I know, it’s up to me to be consistant, which has never been a strongsuit of mine, except for when it comes to homeschooling and making to DIE for fudge, those things I can consistantly do and consistantly do in my sleep, if I have to), and that in the process it turns my little Oscars into Felixes. Well, without the nuerotic aspect, and as long as they don’t start ironing their pajamas, and get so obsessive they start cleaning MY closest. On second thought, hmmm. Okay yes, they can clean my closet.

All that to say, if you ask me something and without really answering I look at you like you have 11 heads, this is why. I'm just not in the loop, and I'm totally okay with that.