So, I have this friend, Hedonism, that is a bit of a leech. She hangs around ALL the time, and she's constantly persuading me to do whatever I feel like doing while I ignore what is important and best for others. In fact, there have been many times when I have chosen Hedonism over my husband, my children, and my friends.
Hedonism and I go way back. This is particularly most evident in housekeeping. I have struggled since my teenage years with being tidy. I am just not neat. I'm not pigsty filthy, but I am not tidy. I am messy. I leave a trail wherever I go. You could look at my house most days and see where I have been and what I have done, cooked, and eaten.
I married a man who is tidier than I am. He generally picks up after himself (except for his shoes and doctor mail), and unfortunately, he is really laid back as well. This does not bode well for a procrastinating, untidy wife. I can count on my hand the number of times he has asked me to pick up my stuff or told me that the house is making him feel a bit overwhelmed.
The funny thing is that I feel overwhelmed by it, too.
So yesterday, I told him how I was feeling about my job as housekeeper. I have considered hiring someone to help me with the house. After all, I do have three children who keep me busy, right? Wrong. The deal is this: I do whatever I want to do whenever I feel like doing it. I rarely don't have time to clean; I just don't want to. So, I don't. I have a hard time making myself do things that I don't want to do (of course, this is part of the fun perks of being an adult--there's no one to boss you around and make you do the stuff you don't want to do!). Yet, someone has to do them.
I'm a bit of an extremist--all or nothing--never half-hearted. So, back to my conversation with my melancholic/phlegmatic husband who is too gracious for words. I asked him, "How do people who are organized by nature motivate themselves to do the undesirable, boring, and unpleasant things in life? And, what should I do about my problem? I waver too much between legalism and grace (all or nothing). I am either too hard on myself about it or too lenient. I can't seem to be balanced."
"Maybe you should set some limits for yourself--like only play The Sims for an hour a day?"
Problem. When my hour is up, I don't care, and I keep playing. (Yes, I play computer games. Too much. I also sew, crochet, read, play on Facebook, talk on the phone...and too many times, I do these things while my kids watch PBS or Boomerang.)
So, I LOVE IT when people ask me, "How do you have time to do all the projects, etc?" Well, I do whatever I want to do. Sadly, though, it is often at the expense of my family.
While I was in the shower last night, I began talking with Dave about breastfeeding (a subject I am very familiar with and talk about a lot because it has always been difficult for me). I have nursed all of my children, and each of them has had some crazy issue that has made it incredibly hard--Sam would have nursing strikes that would leave me in tears, Maryn had a horrible latch which was incredibly painful for me for the first two months, and Lucy had horrible reflux, was losing weight, and would refuse to nurse because of her pain. A lightbulb suddenly went off in my head. Why did I persevere with breastfeeding, especially when it was so hard and unpleasant? Why did I do the things that were hard? Where was hedonism in those moments?
I persevered because it was important to me. I believed strongly that what I was doing in breastfeeding would set the tone for my kids' development and our bond. I wanted the best for my kids. Hedonism took a backseat because breastfeeding my children was more important to me than my own interests. It was sacrificial on my part. They took preeminence over my comfort.
So, now I am asking myself? What is most important to me here at home? Perhaps I haven't had the motivation to keep the house tidy or play more with my kids because I haven't considered what is most important. Is Hedonism going to win while my kids are rotting their brains (okay, maybe not so much with PBS...) in front of the TV? Is the peace that comes with a clean home worth it for my family and for me?
Hedonism, it is time you left the building.