Sunday, January 15, 2012

Guilt (Wherein You Discover That the Hobbit Needs Therapy)

Humble Readers...

I have just had a life changing experience.  My heart is racing, and my mind is whirling.  I hope that what I'm about to write here makes sense.  But before you read on, please go over to Kristin's blog and read her post about the Daffodil principle.  It's what started all of this for me.  Please go.  I'll wait. 

I adore my Mom.  She is a wonderful, caring, intelligent, strong woman.  She is a woman of faith and someone that I strive every day to be like. 

And I fail.  Every day.

You see, my mom is an amazing housekeeper.  Her house is always spotless.  She has a routine and she sticks with it.  Come hell or high water, she does her laundry on Tuesdays and Fridays, towels and sheets on Wednesdays.  She cleans the whole house every Monday, top to bottom.  Dishes are done after every meal, and the floor is swept every day. 

The idea that someone, be they family, friend, or stranger, could come to her home and not find it ready for a full home tour is horrifying.

I have always fallen short of her standard when it comes to cleaning.  Always.  My room was always a mess as a kid, and while I can actually clean to her standard, I don't as often as 'I SHOULD'. 

Enter the guilt. 

Because my house is never as clean as I think it should be (read: as clean as Mom's house) I think of myself as a bad housekeeper, wife, and mother.  I want to be clear, this is NOT something that my Mom has ever said to me directly, but knowing her value on cleanliness, and knowing that I don't measure up has always been a weight that I carry. (It also means that I clean like a mad woman before Mom and Dad come to visit)

Now, here's where things get odd.

I have developed this quirk in my personality because of this guilt.  In my mind, if my house isn't clean, then I don't deserve to do things that would qualify as 'fun'.  Think of it kind of like, you stayed home from work or school because you weren't feeling well in the morning, but by evening you're feeling better and want to go to a movie.  I don't know about you, but I just can't do it.  If I didn't do what I was 'supposed to', then I don't get to do what I 'want to'. 

Clear as mud? 

The thing is, there are things in my life that I have come to regularly deny myself permission to do, all because my house isn't clean.  They are things that somehow have taken on 'luxury' status in my mind.  Some of them are simple pleasures, like taking the time to read a magazine in the middle of the day.  Or working on a craft project like Ginny's baby book. 

But biggest, and most important on the list of indulgences that gets denied is my passion for writing.  Writing has been a part of how I have defined who I am as a person since I was 7 years old.  I never feel better about myself than when I am lost in something that I am writing.  Creating characters and places, dreaming up conflicts and situations that I don't yet know how they will get out of. 

And yet, somehow over the years, the act of writing has become the equivalent to a day at the spa or that super rich dish that you only let yourself eat once in a blue moon.  There's this voice in my head that nags at me as soon as I sit down to write... telling me that I am selfish for taking time from what I should be doing to do something I enjoy.  And there is always something else that I SHOULD be doing. 

Like laundry.
Or dusting.
Or scrubbing the kitchen floor.

Today that changes.  Today I give myself permission to write, and to enjoy it, no matter the state of my laundry hamper or kitchen floor. 

I may not write much to start, especially as my writing muscles are sorely out of shape.  But every small bit of writing will add up and maybe in 10 or 15 or 20 years I might have something that resembles a manuscript. 

To quote the Daffodil Principle, "When we multiply tiny pieces of time with small increments of daily effort, we too will find we can accomplish magnificent things. We can change the world."

Time X Effort = Wondrous Things



  1. Life is too short to feel guilty for not being someone else! Be who you are and who you want to be. Take care of yourself!!

  2. I'm going to hold you to that my friend. So very glad that beautiful story meant so much to you.

  3. Oh SO interesting! I read your post up until when you linked Kristin's post, went to Kristin's post and commented that I HAD to start blogging again! Granted you writing not me blogging, but it is along the same lines. We need to get our thoughts out and writing via blogging or creating characters, does that for us. You DO deserve to write, even if the laundry needs to be done. Good for you!

  4. Good for you! I totally agree, I've had similar thoughts myself, but I really like the Daffodil story as a way to think about it. I share a similar trait, that I can't use my time to indulge in things that seem "frivolous" when there is so much work to do, although what I end up doing in the end is wasting time. I'm trying to get better at planning my time, though, and using some tools I've found online to do it. But anyway - like I said, good for you! I hope you DO start reaching for your dreams and writing!

  5. YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I struggle with the same thing (although my mom is a terrible housekeeper!), and especially being home it's even harder. G bought me a journal for Christmas and told me he expects it to be full of "whatever it is you write about" by Easter :) It's amazing what a difference that "permission" has made in my attitude. Good for your for giving yourself permission!

  6. I really like this! Thanks for sharing. :)

  7. Hard to compete with a born organized person like your mom. Impossible. She does have some great routines she follows. One source of inspiration I find is at flylady dot net. She helps set up those routines and finally love yourself! And find time to write. One "Daffodil" at a time.

  8. Yay! I'm glad that you are going to write! And thank for cross posting that-it applies to me as well. great words to live by!


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