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The Dichotomy of Me

September 14, 2015 - Stacey Sacco
As is normal. I’m reading two books at the moment. I have two floors of my house and it’s necessary that a book be within my reach at all times. I never know when I’ll get a moment to read a page. Obviously.

The two books I’m currently reading are a study of opposites, yet I feel a connection to both authors. I have learned from both books, although the lessons may cancel each other out.

The first book is Kim Brenneman’s Large Family Logistics. Although it would depend on your perspective if we qualify as a large family, she has some very practical advice in this book that would be great even for small families. It was highly recommended by some other homeschooling mamas and I see why. In the book, she explains how she “does it all.”

My initial thought was that her method is nothing at all like the system I have for cleaning. Then I realized that I have less than half the number of children she has and my house always looks like we keep wild animals. I’m sure hers does not. Maybe I should pay a little bit more attention.

So while I was reading, I was making lists, dividing up chores, assessing our trouble spots (the whole house?), and scheduling cleaning times. She advocates for routine and while we can schedule a little down time, she reminds us that as mamas we have too much to do to be idle during the day. I’m sure this includes time spent on Facebook, Pinterest, and blogs.

While I realize I probably don’t have the dedication and desire to do what it takes to have an immaculate house, there is certainly room for improvement. And maybe she’s right that a few small changes in my cleanliness and general attitude about the messes would make a difference in the attitudes of everyone else. Perhaps a little extra effort from me would mean a little extra effort from four other people.

In the last few weeks, I’ve become better at keeping up with dishes and laundry. I’ve been cleaning the table after meals and running the vacuum more often. And she’s right. I feel better. I’m not sure anyone else in my house notices, but I do and I like it.

The second book I’m reading is Mary Pipher’s Seeking Peace: Chronicles of the Worst Buddhist in the World. As you could guess by the title, it was a very different book. It’s an autobiographical account about how Pipher became overwhelmed and lost sight of the important things in her life as well as her sense of inner peace and then regained it.

She discussed meditation, mindfulness, and prayer as ways to regain what we have lost in our lives in terms of direction, focus, and peace. And, wow, is she right. I spend way more time being worried about who I am letting down and what I haven’t accomplished than I do taking care of my mental and spiritual well-being. I let all those lists and schedules keep me from experiencing joy and peace.

I can just picture these two women having a conversation, Brenneman confident that a peaceful household comes through organization and cleanliness. Meanwhile, Pipher taking the more laid-back attitude that giving ourselves grace to be in the moment is the way to feel contentment. I heard this while reading both books and I really feel both ways, if that’s possible.

I know that things will run smoothly if we are organized. A family that is a well-oiled machine would be much easier than the chaotic mess we are. But is it realistic? Much of Brenneman’s book is a plan that relies heavily on child involvement, which is wonderful when you have teenagers. My nine year old can and does unload the dishwasher and set the table. But the younger kids aren’t capable of doing laundry and scrubbing bathtubs.

I think what is right for our family is a bit of both. A little more effort in the housecleaning and organization department and a little more grace in expectations. If I can be easier on myself, my husband, and my kids, much of my stress would disappear. Or maybe I’m just phobic of committing myself to one lifestyle completely. I’m not much of an extremist in any realm of my life. I’m certainly not going to start with the way I keep my home. I like having a little freedom depending on my mood for the day.

I’m trying to keep up a little better, but don’t expect miracles. I need some peace too, after all.


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