Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Best Laid Plans

Why is it that I'm able to be organized in some areas of my life, but not in others? I'm capable of keeping church music well-organized and for all the years I worked on church bazaars, I was diligent in keeping workshop schedules and supplies in order. For over 25 years, I was a member of a local group which sponsored art and craft shows. When I held office in that group, I was able to keep exhibitors' records and other information organized. But here in my own home, I sometimes cannot find my reading glasses or my shoes.
My history includes vounteer work for the community and for animal welfare. I've participated in craft shows for about 30 years and for many of those years, I was able to keep a daily routine whereby sewing and crafting were scheduled along with household duties. So I know there are some things I can do fairly well, but keeping clutter from invading my work space and living area isn't one of them.

I have a theory about all this. When we are asked to chair meetings, assist with Girl Scouts, join the PTO, volunteer at churches, hospitals, or nursing homes, we usually desire to make sure those requests are seen through to completion. Could it be that's because we receive more positive affirmation for our efforts in the community than we receive for doing household chores? I believe our spouses and children appreciate the things we do, but they don't always express their thanks. So why should we feel eager to continue doing things for which we receive little affirmation?
Another part of my theory is that when we do the same tasks over and over, often re-doing what was done just days ago, we feel exasperated and our efforts seem futile. We might go around the house picking up after everyone (and ourselves), yet all our efforts can be undone in very short order if just one person forgets to put things back where they belong. Nothing we do seems to stay done.
Someone once wrote that doing housework is like stringing pearls with no knot at the end of the string. That says it all. I know full well when I finish this week's laundry, I'm going to be doing some of the same laundry again the next week, and the next, and the next. When I unload clean dishes from the dishwasher, I then re-load it with dirty dishes, and on it goes. This repetitive cycle zaps my enthusiasm for trying to keep an organized home. I often wonder why I bother at all. A magazine article I read a few years ago suggested that an empty laundry basket and a full cookie jar were two joys of life. I now believe that.
My spouse goes off to work each morning so that we can have a nice home and things with which to fill it. I do appreciate that and freely admit I don't tell him 'thank you' as often as I should. I'm confident that his incentive for going to work each day is the paycheck he receives for doing so. Although he may not literally receive pats on the back, he is given a paycheck to compensate his efforts. I call that a reward.
Homemakers take pride in what they do, but no one is willing to reward them for their time and effort. I think that's often why they/we feel unappreciated. I'll go further and suggest that might be why some of us (but certainly not all of us) let things slide until we end up with closets and drawers full of useless stuff. Where's the incentive to sort through those things and clean out the clutter? Who's going to notice and who will congratulate us (or compensate us) for making the effort?
I'd much rather go somewhere and do something for which I'll receive some positive affirmation. I'll admit it. I need those strokes. Don't we all? I think that's exactly why I loved participating in craft shows for so many years and why I had a difficult time adjusting when I decided to retire from those endeavors. The positive comments I received from people, whether they purchased items or not, was good as gold to me.
It's starting to become clear to me why it's been so easy to close the door to a cluttered room or ignore corners and cupboards that need to be cleared of un-used things. I'd rather find ways to receive positive affirmation than to deal with unpleasant tasks for which there are no perceivable rewards. Even when volunteering to help people and/or animals in need, there are emotional and spiritual benefits. I don't suggest those are the only reasons to be kind and helpful. But most of us like the feeling of knowing we've been needed and that is a reward in itself.
Perhaps when we cook, clean, or de-clutter, the end result should be the reward, but for me, that's just not enough. I crave more. I'm very aware that no one is going to offer to pay me for doing chores in my own home, but what, then, WILL be the incentive to do them? As I get older, I find that trying to keep this house reasonably clean and in some semblence of order presents more of a challenge every day. I'm desperate to find out why I should be content to plan and fix meals, grocery shop, cook, clean, do laundry, and try to keep clutter at bay - for the rest of my life. Is it even possible to be happy doing those things?
I was blissfully unaware that I was signing up for lifetime tasks before I married my beloved. Perhaps I should have known that was part of the deal, but I was only 20 years old when we married and future household chores were not on my mind back then. I guess I'm still naive' in some ways - or do I live in a constant state of denial?
There are days I complain about having so much laundry to do and I wonder why the dust in my home always comes back just hours after I've removed it. I want to know why the bathroom doesn't stay clean and whether I'll ever be able to retire from MY job while my spouse is eager for the time he can retire from his. Maybe I've never fully accepted that these are simply facets of the life I chose.
I'll continue to search for answers and when I find some, I'll share them.


kmclaughlin said...

love the blog!! i am a newbie too. you are doing a great job!!
hugs, kim

Kady said...

Thanks Kim. I do tend to ramble a lot, don't I? LOL. I'm finding this very cathartic. So you have a blog too? Please share your link.

Donna said...

I have found that the emotional rewards for doing those mundain tasks are found within you. It is a matter of pride in having a clean and well-kept house. Chores that are undone are a source of stress for me, and I want to reduce the amount of stress in my life!

Kady said...

That's what my last blog entry was leading up to - the reward for doing housework and other mundane tasks much lie within, because we sure don't receive monetary rewards for those things.

I looked at your profile and saw you're an RN too. And, you have a cat. I have 7! Some of us sure sem to have a lot in common. Thanks for your comments.

Donna said...

That's Kim who is the RN with a cat. I am a retired engineer with no pets. LOL!

Kady said...

Sorry Donna. I thought I was making a reply to Kim, after having viewed her profile and her blog. I'm still learning how to navigate thru this thing LOL.

Thanks for bearing with me.

Donna said...

No problem, Kady! LOL. BTW, I am loving your blog topics because I am wrestling with similar issues.

Kady said...


I think a lot of people struggle with the same things we do. If I can help someone by posting about some of these issues, then I think that would be helpful. I appreciate your comments. Thanks!