It was productive, of course, in that I did some reading and thinking and processing life, but really, I do a lot of those kinds of things already. What I need is to emerge from the chaos of all the other little details of life that don't involve much reading, thinking and processing--things like following through on committments and cleaning grimy bathrooms.
So here it is 4:30 and I am sitting in the public library, waiting for my son's filmmaking class at MAPS Media Institute to let out so I can drive him and his friends to their high school youth group and finally make it home at about 7:30, just before my daughter gets home from volleyball practice. I will just have enough time to eat a bite of dinner and do up the dinner dishes before my 8:00 end-of-the-workday deadline arrives. So my day is done. I did a lot of blog surfing, but not much in the way of emerging from the chaos.
That is, unless I can somehow count one of my blog side trips as productive. Hmmm...
I was over at Tina Hollenbeck's blog, Being Made New, and began browsing through her 31 Days of Being Real series. Like me, she didn't grow up well-trained to be a homemaker, although some of her friends have different impressions of her because of the awesome concoctions she manages to pull out of her kitchen occasionally. Same with me!
Because I cater meals for my husband's woodworking school, I have had to learn to cook--and in a hurry. I have about a dozen dishes now that I can do well, really well, plus a handful of tasty desserts that always please a crowd. In addition, I have learned from necessity how to throw together a simple meal out of whatever is in the pantry, mixed with whatever leftovers are in the fridge. I've become a bit of a legend, actually (at least among my own immediate family members) for pulling amazing things out of what appears to be nothing. Rabbits from hats, baby. They aren't always pretty meals, but they will soothe the savage beasts that are my hungry husband and kids.
I also like to throw a party. If I have adequate time to enslave my children into a chain gang style work crew, and clean, baby, clean, then dim the lights and set out a bunch of candles, then insist that the majority of the party takes place outside on the deck or out at the fire pit, I can throw a great little shin-dig. And I love doing it, even though it is rare. So, Tina's friends' conclusion that she is a total Susie Homemaker, even though Tina herself knew the real truth, really resonated with me. One friend, who happens to be bilingual in Spanish, even began calling her Tina Cocina, a Spanish version of the same concept. Don't you just love that name? (Cocina is Spanish for kitchen, in case you're lost here.)
Here's what else Tina wrote that made a lot of sense to me:
I...keep plugging away at keeping a nice home because I'm convinced that's part of my role (which I don't see as a burden at all), and I want to do my best. But the reality is that I don't have the gift of homemaking - the natural inclination toward it - the way some of my friends do.
And the beautiful thing is that I don't feel bad about that. Just as evangelism is every Christian's responsibility but some believers' gift, so, too, I've accepted the fact that homemaking is my responsibility (one I want to embrace to the best of my personal ability) even if it's not my gift. And God has been so faithful to bless me (against all odds) with what ultimately matters most to any committed mom - an ability to love my kids with my whole being - that I'm okay with the fact that I really have no desire to sew my own clothes or can 100 quarts of tomatoes.
I like that. In emerging from my personal and our family's chaos, I need to remember that making a nurturing home that is basically tidy and organized (at least to the point where a little candlelight on a rainy autumn night like tonight makes it cozy and pleasant), and nutritious meals are served around a table full of love, does not have to be a natural gift of mine in order for me to pursue it with excellence. I am not a women's libber, friends. I am just fine with my husband being the primary bread winner and me taking on the bulk of the homefront responsibilities.
How else would I get to blog?
I am happy with the job I have been given as a home maker. It's an honor to be the one who gets to set the tone for our home and family life, even though I never aspired to such work and it doesn't come easily to me. I didn't EVER set out in life to be a caterer, either, and honestly, I don't come by it easily either. I have really had to work to get to the point where I am now--able to serve big beautiful meals to well-to-do clients, twice a day for two weeks straight at a time. Did I mention, though, that we get to serve them outside on the deck or in the upper room above the woodshop? In the house would KILL me. But I have grown into the job because I have focused on growing into the job and pursuing excellence in that arena.
I need to adopt the same attitude toward home making. I am not a natural at this stuff, but I can work at it and improve. I can strive for excellence. That is where I need to focus.
Focus, Sherry, focus!
Thanks, Tina, for the pep talk you didn't know you were inspiring when you wrote your post. As my 11 year old daughter said on Monday, when volleyball practice was getting very intense and she wasn't improving as quickly as she wanted to and she was feeling like giving up:
Well, Mama, I was getting really tired and it was so hard and I was getting so frustrated, but then I just slapped myself in the face, mentally, and said to myself, "Ellie! You are stronger than this! You are better than this! Get back in the game and do it! Don't let this beat you!" Then I felt much better.Discouraged today? Feeling like the chaos is beating you? Take a lesson from my Ellie. Slap yourself in the face, mentally, and give yourself a pep talk.
Maybe someday your friends will call you Tina Cocina. And maybe, just maybe, they'll be right.
Oh, I just realized that I finished tonight's blog post here at the library, which means my schedule is free during my usual blogging time. I can still get some things done after all! Cool beans!
Wait a minute...did I just utter cool beans in response to finding time for housework?
It must be working, friends. I must be climbing out of the chaos, one little bit at a time. Thanks for cheering me on.