The Chaotic Pursuit of Home Improvement

Who would have guessed that running a household is so much work? I know this is the age-old lament of anyone who’s at home full time, and I have been aware of it for a long time, but lately it’s just been feeling overwhelming. As soon as I deviate from the ordinary path of household maintenance — meal prep, dishes, laundry, sweeping the floor, diaper changes, making beds, picking up toys — everything else seems to fall to pieces. There is barely enough time in the day to do those things, let alone try to branch out and be a bit more creative or productive. Any kind of in-depth cleaning, for example, and suddenly I haven’t stayed on top of the other basic tasks and the house starts looking like a disaster zone. (Not that that’s a serious problem; the urge to deep clean rarely hits, if ever.)

Over the past few days, I’ve been frantically trying to paint the living room but, as usual, everything happens all at once. New beds arrive tomorrow, so the upstairs needs to be totally rearranged according to our new and improved floor plan. The paint on the living room walls requires more coats than anticipated, which delays moving furniture around by a day or two. I have been sick for the past several days, battling a nasty cold while standing on my tiptoes on a chair, trying to paint as fast and well as I can. The rest of the house looks like a bomb went off. It’s too cloudy to hang out laundry, so I’ve been slacking and there are piles of dirty things everywhere. We have guests arriving on Friday and I really want the house to be ready by then. I feel frantic, as if I haven’t stopped moving for days.

As much as my mother’s disastrous housekeeping skills drive me nuts (she knows it), I have to give it to her for prioritizing with brutal honesty. If she kept on top of the housework, she’d never the skilled painter she is today. If I chased down every dust bunny and picked up every toy, I wouldn’t have a blog. If I didn’t let the other things slide in order to decorate my house in a new way, it would never look any better. Creativity is important to cultivate in whatever form it takes, I realize, and I can’t let it get suffocated under a driving desire for order. Often out of chaos does come beauty.

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