Sunday, October 4, 2009

Hedonism and Me

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."

His answer?

"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.


  1. i enjoyed reading this.... as one of those melancholy overly-organized types, i am interested to see how the other side approaches order. and, believe it or not, i think there are pros and cons to each end of the spectrum. and, no matter how organized i am, i still want to do what I WANT to do! here's my strategy. i decide what i need to do during a specific day. then i come up with rewards for myself. ie, clean the bathroom and you can watch The View. put that laundry ALL away and you can read for a half hour (or more sometimes...). everyone needs their own strategy, but it may work for you!

  2. Good, darling. So good. I lean more toward too clean, but that's a problem too. I find myself running around the house all day doing things that need to be done. Well, quality time with those cute little ones is something that needs to be done too!

  3. I am so with you on this post! I have great plans of cleaning and organizing, but alas, there are more fun things to do and unfortunately, I, more often than not, choose the fun things. However, when the muse speaks and I swing into action, I can accomplish tremendous things, my family is impressed and I feel great about it. I've not managed to make a habit out of this yet though! Hope springs eternal though!

  4. Manda, I appreciate your vulnerable honesty. Sometimes I feel like the blogging world is a little too perfect and even those "I'm so awful posts" end up being like an answer to that question in interviews, "What's your greatest weakness?" Reply, "Well, I guess I'm just too motivated, it's hard to wind down and stop working." :) So, thank you for that and maybe it will spur me on to read and post the good, the bad, and the ugly. Love you much and good luck.

  5. Thanks for sharing. I have been struggling a bit with some things lately too... been a bit selfish lately... I am with Dena, my need for orderly tends to lead me to get short with my children and spend too much time putting things away... Starting to homeschool Bowden has really helped a lot because I have to take that time each day and focus on him... it is just the girls who suffer now!!!!

  6. So So So well written!!!!
    It is just like what Steve and I have been talking about "At the end of the day you did just what you wanted to do."
    I love how you wrapped this post up with the conclusion on breastfeeding. Sometimes I think women struggle because they had mothers who obsessed about the house and now these women go in the opposite direction not wanting their kids to grow in a home like that, or it is the other end of the spectrum, they had a mom who did not teach them (my story) the mom did every little thing for them so they did not learn good habits. It has been all up hill for me to develop a balance in the home.

    It really hit me the first few years that being a stay at home mom you do not have a traditional boss telling you a list of what to do, each morning WE decide, there are no progress reports and such, or people watching really, so self motivation does play a HUGE roll.

    Oh Amanda I wish you were over for tea in my messy house right now and we could sit and chat about this at length! LOL!

    lots of love,


  7. I can kind of relate with the whole getting my dissertation done. It may seem simple, but I feel simple and realistic goals are the best approach. I enjoy making schedules and marking things off and such. But any way you go about it, just give it your best effort....and of course, pray over it.

  8. You are such a great writer. I check your blog a lot to see if it is new. So, while I'm up at 5am I'm so glad to be reading your new post. I'm not always motivated to do chores either, but then after awhile (when the toilets are brown from our hard water) I think to myself that I have to do something while Brian is out working so hard for us. So, I treat chores like eating nasty vegetables when I was a kid-you know how you put off eating them until they are cold, nasty, and totally unappetizing. With chores, I don't let myself do all of the things that I want to like sewing, watching tv, facebook, talking to you... until my chore for the day is finished. When I actually get to doing the chore it rarely takes me long. I guess that it is just the idea of doing something other than what I want to that is hard-I totally relate! So, to me it's just like eating spinach when I was a kid. It was never that bad if I would just choke it down and get it over with, and then I could get on to the good stuff that I liked like dessert. Can't wait to see you!


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