I’ve gotten a lot done today, but I am tired with a capital “T” and ready for bed. Last night was the second of two consecutive nights that I’ve stayed up late and gotten up early. I can’t even remember why I was up except that I got engrossed in something on television, and at some point, it began to watch me rather than me watching it.
Today was a grocery day and I wanted to get out early to beat the crowds. The superhero, whose night was almost as late as my own, graciously offered to go, but I was already up and so let him rest. Truth be told, I hadn’t completed the list as I should—the death knell on a budget—and taking the time would have crushed the goal of an early start. I felt like treating myself to an early morning cup of coffee, and I couldn’t resist a rare chance to praise the Lord alone while driving. I plugged in a great wake-up-and-get-to-dancin’-and-shoutin’ tune—Dietrick Haddon’s “I Gotta Praise (Holy One).” Man, I hated to get out of the car.
The Muzak pumped out 80’s pop music, and every now and then, I reminisced of my college days and sang along. Inevitably when I’m alone, though, my mind somehow finds its way to my life—what am I doing, am I doing what I’m supposed to be doing, and what I could do differently, whether better or worse. I enjoyed my time with my thoughts amongst all the hustle and bustle, but I couldn’t help but people-watch as I filled my basket.
So many don’t enjoy grocery shopping, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but I get a kick out of meal planning. It’s one of my favorite household activities. Past the joy of eating (smile), I like managing the budget, and consequently setting the course for what we’ll eat. I love making the list, experimenting with new ingredients, and observing how the whole process translates to where we’ll shop—a regular grocery store, a whole foods store, a fish market and/or a produce market, dependent upon the beginnings of the process. The superhero is often the “legs and feet” of this process—the one who actually shops. It works for us: he likes to be out and about, and he often shops on his way home from work.
Anyway, I’ve been reading Cheryl Mendelsohn’s Home Comforts (subtitled ‘The Art of Science of Keeping House’) after seeing it on Ambleside as a suggestion for a living book on home economics. I’ve not gotten too far, but will hopefully delve further into it during this summer’s vacation. Though our home is far from immaculate, and more often than I’d like it’s not even company-ready, I have learned to embrace managing the household as more ministry than misery. I don’t dance with a broom just yet, but I realize more and more each day that, as the author says much more eloquently than I would, all of the tasks that we manage, and the associated value that we place on them, are a function of what we want people to feel while in our homes. “People,” by the way, can be those that live in the home every day, and not necessarily company. How we manage the home is about safety, health and wealth, and the mind, body and soul.
The oldest and I will cover parts of this book together in years to come, although I can already see that we won’t subscribe to its ideas cover to cover. I enjoy a clean, neat home, but I don’t want household management to become burdensome for me so I’ve never been a fan of the Fly Lady, etc. (my apologies to those of you who are). I’ve already noticed that as she talks about routines in cleaning, she suggests working “high to low.” I’ve not figured out why yet, but I know that, for this home, low to high works best as the downstairs is about as far as 95% of our guests travel. She also begins early in the book with how to make the perfect cup of coffee. Though I still enjoy coffee, I don’t want to pick it up again as a daily habit; I had the worst headaches when I detoxed from caffeine years ago. I did feel good that those items that she lists as daily habits were in line with I instinctively do anyway. But, I prefer to be ministered to by her precepts of what managing a household is about, and to be transformed by the renewing of my mind in this area. The next time someone wants to make you feel less than worthy because ‘all you do is stay at home,’ consider this:
‘Housekeeping requires knowledge and intelligence…, the kind that is complex, not simple, and combines intellect, intuition and feelings. You need a memory good enough to remember how things are done, where things are, what the daily routine requires, what everyone in the home is up to as it affects housekeeping, the state of supplies, budgets, and bills…The ability to split your attention in several ways and stay calm is essential. You need to exercise creative intelligence to solve problems and devise solutions: efficiency measures that save money or time; psychological or social measure to improve cooperation; steps to improve physical comfort; analyses of why and how some routines break down. Housekeeping comprises the ability to find, evaluate and use information about nutrition, cooking, cleaning, and safety. Above all, housekeeping must be intelligent so that it can be empathetic, for empathy is the form of intelligence that creates the feeling of home…’
Mendelsohn, pg. 10-11