Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Being a blessing

When I first got married I had the humbling realization that I wasn't going to have a happy, healthy marriage, and be constantly adored just on the merit of my charming personality. I needed to learn to be a contributing member to our home and our partnership. This especially hit home in the area of our house.
I grew up untameable in my messiness. I saw it as part of my free-spirited personality. Procrastination was my middle name. My mom tells stories of telling me that I "at least had to make my bed each day!" So, I made it once, and then slept on top of the covers every night to avoid the daily chore. Once I got married I realized (and was told) that this attitude wouldn't be accepted. God chose to mold my, and my husband's, characters by letting two opposite personalities fall in love.
My husband is a very driven, hard worker, with high standards for himself and everyone around him, who never puts anything off that could be done immediately. He can't rest in a space until its clean, uncluttered, and beautiful. If I planned on "doing it later" he in frustration would end up doing it himself and resent me for it. I struggled with my unwillingness to love and serve him by better caring for our home. To add to this challenge, I got pregnant immediately after getting married which sent out the window our plans for me to work to put Ben through grad-school. I refused to put my son in day-care. Therefore, Ben worked long hours at a few part-time jobs to pay our bills and I slept continually, exhausted by my first trimester of pregnancy.
Once I had my son, my husband started a full time Masters program and fostered the growth of a small tutoring business he had started. I began trying harder and harder to do a better job of caring for our home, but I had SO MANY years of bad habits to unlearn. I would be incredibly proud of a baby step and my husband wouldn't see its worth as the overall cleanliness of our home was still sub-par. I started working two exhausting part time jobs when Rowan was 4 months old, and left him either with Ben or with my mom. This didn't improve my abilities as a homemaker. Obviously, this all put a huge strain on my marriage and at some points it felt that we were barely hanging on.
We never would've thought there could be such screaming matches and disillusionment due to cleaning! We had gotten along so well in dating, but living together was hard. Honestly it went deeper than just cleaning habits. It was a heart issue. I was not willing to serve my husband in the ways he needed to be served. I loved him how I wanted to and not in the ways he could receive that love. And he perceived that. It put such a burden on him to work so hard while I wouldn't pull my own weight.
Finally, this year my attitude changed. I loved him so much I wanted to bless him by giving him a peaceful home to return to each night, esp. now that he is working full time and I am full time at home. A huge help for me has been the Fly Lady system that humorously, with understanding and grace, has helped me to become more organized, and to replace my bad habits with good ones. I have made friends with other young moms who could share in my struggles and achievements when before I had no one to walk with me in that way. I started attending mother's groups through my church, and following Blogs such as Home Living, A Fruitful Vine, and At a Hen's Pace that all mentored me in how to grow.
I had been so scared of losing my identity and my free spiritedness that I was allowing myself to cripple my marriage and be enslaved to constant chaos. Now that I've become willing to change, I find that I can still be myself while having a handle on my life. And Ben loves it! He loves to come home to a clean house, a hot healthy dinner, and a happy well rested boy. (well... most of the time! :0) We now enjoy each other without constantly bickering over things.
I'm still taking baby steps on this path, but the results are so gratifying and immediate that its encouraging me to run. I enjoy being a blessing and now that my home is less chaotic I have so much more energy to not only bless my family but to bless others as well and build life giving friendships and community. Thank you to all of you who help me to be a blessing.
Please pray for me as I continue to follow this path.


Rachel said...

Your humility and vulnerability in this blog are impressive. I have the opposite problem, I really have to try hard to not see the mess, not let it sour my interactions with Tyler when there is so much to do, so much to clean... I often envy the Mary's of this world, like yourself who can just relax and BE, those able to unload, at least momentarily, the burdens of housekeeping and life in order to experience the moment, not let order ruin the best moments that often happen in chaos. My relationship with Tyler has been a continuation of this lesson for me, one of letting go, not just of chores and housework but of the reins which I fool myself into thinking that I hold on life. And while I do hope to work towards a more team approach to the upkeep of our apartment, I have to appreciate that balance that Tyler's perspective brings to my life and to our relationship.

Xin Lei said...

I love how beautifully you've allowed yourself to be transformed...thank you for your sincere words! Mother's groups have helped me tremendously's a sounding board I look forward to every week. All the stereotypes that come with being a stay-at-home-mom scare me too...once the superficial layers have been peeled back, it's amazing how many of us young moms struggle with the same things, eh? Keep up the lovely posts...I look forward to reading more!