Monday, April 30, 2012

It's Good for the Soul

They say that confession is good for the soul. So, for the sake of cleansing my soul, I hearby make my confession.

For the past 12 years, I have used Eric's job as the reason for my inability to keep a clean house. And now, at 35, I have realized that really, I'm just not a good housekeeper.

What brings on this confession? Eric started his new job today which promises to give us a more regular schedule and a more stable and predictable home life. I have long used his unpredictable and ever-changing hours as an excuse for my less-than-perfect housekeeping skills. His job left us both drained from other responsibilities so there wasn't ever the extra energy that was needed to complete basic household tasks, you know, like putting away the laundry. Goodness, there wasn't even a hope that I might mop a floor or clean the bathroom.

But over the past three weeks, Eric has been between jobs. We've had no real stress on our plate and you know what, my house still isn't clean. There are still piles on the floor and counters and the laundry still needs to be put away.

I make this confession because thinking about how our life and family is changing has produced in me a great deal of paranoia and soul-searching. With Eric taking a job that has regular hours, I've felt a bit of the pressure that suddenly, I need to be the perfect housewife that complements that. And according to the cultural upbringing and other things I have heard, this means that the house needs to be perfectly clean, dinner on the table, and me "freshened" for the moment that Eric walks in the door.

Isn't it amazing how cultural stereotypes that may not even be applicable anymore still have an ability to haunt us? There are so many other things that do not bother me that I am surprised by how hampered I am by this.

All joking aside, I am actually a bit troubled by this one thing about me, as if my validity and effectiveness as a mother, wife, and housekeeper are hinged on this one thing. Which they are not.

Regardless, today is a big day in our house! A new job! A new beginning! A chance for us to increase our communication skills! A chance to practice grace as we adjust to this new way of living!

But, shoot, I just looked at the clock. Eric's going to be home in a few minutes . . .and I have to clean the house, make a gourmet dinner, freshen my make-up (when do I ever wear make-up?) Oh well, at least I could get off the computer and pretend to do something useful. Maybe fold a basket of laundry!


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Remembering Mrs. Meadows

My High School English teacher passed away last night. She flew from a body that was sick and broken into the arms of Jesus.

Today, I have been watching as past classmates of mine have left notes of remembering and grief on Facebook. And it has been sweet to remember.

Of all the wonderful teachers I had during my many years at ICS (Intermountain Christian School) in Salt Lake, Mrs. Janice Meadows is the one I remember the most. Oh sure, I can remember Mr Benson teaching chemistry or editing the school yearbook with Mr. Gutman or even trying to pay attention in AP Calculus with Ms. Schaeffer. But Mrs. Meadows. . .well, she impacted my life in so many ways.

First of all, I can still see how her classroom was set up--with all the desks facing the chalkboard, her desk in the back and her wonderful bookshelf full of books just waiting to be read. I spent much time in front of those bookshelves trying to decide what book to read next. I can see her sitting at her desk while we all tried to figure out how to cut out all our "it is" and "there was" from our essays. I remember the 5 step revision process and I can still see being handed back an essay that I thought was pretty good that was literally covered with red ink.

She helped me to fall in love with classic literature, diagramming sentences, and the well-chosen word. She got me my first real teaching job tutoring 2 twins in grammar over summer vacation. (Man, I love grammar!) Through her classes I read Beowulf, Les Miserables, hordes of English literature, and even some American literature. One Friday she told us our next book was "A Prayer for Owen Meaney." I went to the bookstore that night and bought it. Over the weekend I devoured it. On Monday morning she announced a different book because a parent had complained about questionable content. I was very disappointed and a little confused.

In her classes and through her teaching I learned that I love to write, to express thoughts, ideas, and emotions with the written word, that I love story. She helped me discover the path that I am currently traveling.

I can still hear her voice and see her red marks as I write today. I cringe with every "there was" that I write because I know it is lazy, boring writing. And because of this one sweet woman, I will strive to do better.

Thank you Mrs. Meadows, for you inspired me and countless others to do our best, to not settle for lazy, uninspired words.