Friday, November 19, 2010

Not Cut Out for This

(warning -- major really DON'T have to read this.)

I'm losing it today. I probably shouldn't, but I am.

I'm not domestic. I wasn't raised to be domestic. In fact, my parents did a terrible job imparting domestic skills to me. I got punished and berated quite frequently for not doing my chores right, being organized, etc., but they never bothered with actually teaching me HOW to do these things or imparting these habits. Being ten years younger than anyone else in my household, my mother just thought it simpler to clean when I wasn't around. The few chores they did give me, such as vacuuming, I never did right. No, that's not the way it was said. Usually, my mom would look over the room and say "You didn't vacuum this."

These skills didn't matter. I was going to go to college and have a career. That's what I was told was important from when I was little. They kind of overlooked the fact that I still have to live somewhere and eat...even without the unthinkable possibility that I might end up "wasting my life" at home with my kids, doing a sucky job keeping house.

So I suck...REALLY suck at keeping house. And I hate it. Not that I haven't done Flylady, read books, etc. I still suck. And for this post, please spare me the "this worked for me bit." Because that's not the point.

I can say that I understand the VALUE of keeping house. I respect the sanctity of the home, the love that it imparts to my family, and the noble ideas of it all. But I still hate it. I WANT to like it. I know all about the doctine of vocation, too, and so I don't need to hear from the traditionalists who want to tell me that if I wanted to do anything else, I would be disobeying God's will. Bite me.

I went to college to be a therapist, to interact with the world. To help others. Now eighteen years later, I still don't have that frigging Masters degree done because of kids and moves and other stuff. I know that raising good kids is probably the best way to help the world not go down the toilet. I even know that to a large extent, despite all my "issues," I'm erasing a lot of the damage that my parents passed on to me.

I have managed to teach myself to cook, and I'm damn good at it. But cooking means cleaning. It's a never ending Sisyphean battle. When I clean, I find that I get extremely angry. I feel the paralyzing rage that I felt being stuck in those no-win situations growing up. I can just feel it flood up within me....which is probably the plus side of my also not doing a good job of imparting these skills to my children.

When I was growing up, the promise of the future was that I would be able to study something I was interested in and spend my life doing something that I enjoyed. Instead, 80% of my life SHOULD be devoted to something that I completely despise and suck at (and I'd be happy just to feel like I merely tolerate it). And I am surrounded by the proof that I suck at it.

This has become all the more clear this week, because I generally avoid the distress by eating out way too much, because eating out means no dishes, no food falling on the floor, etc. But I recently learned that I have celiac disease...or at least all the symptoms of it. There are now very few places that I CAN eat, especially cheaply (and no, I don't want the list of those, either). This is probably a blessing in disguise, because it means that rather than cooking 3-4 times a week, I am cooking every day, for most all meals (and no, I really don't want any advice here, either...or any recommendations on great gluten free pasta or baking products). I've lost ten pounds, and health-wise, I feel better, and the rushed trips to the bathroom have lessened considerably. But it means I am even more immersed in dishes and dirty floors, and stoves that need cleaned, and more time in a house that is a constant reminder of my inadequacies.

And I still suck at it.

I am completely overwhelmed.

I know I finally need to grow up and finally do this. But right now, I just want to hide in bed and cry...and punch something...repeatedly.

Thanks for listening. I may want some of those tips on all of these things later. Just not now.

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Elephantschild said...

There's no should in housekeeping. If you don't like it, if it doesn't bring you peace, don't do anymore than you absolutely have to to not smell bad and not starve. Don't let anyone put guilt on you because you're not a natural-born housekeeper. Your kids are thriving and your husband loves you like crazy. That matters more.

It's ok.

Might I point out that your family benefits from your deep thinking, your passion, your intelligence, and your humor in humongous ways? All those things are borne out a woman who went to college to have a career. All those things developed because you didn't - like I didn't - spend time wistfully sighing after being a Perfect Housewife someday.

If you WERE good at housework, I doubt you and I would be such good friends. You'd be one of those rather boring women who obsess about the minutiae of their children's lives and can't talk about anything else at all. :) So there.

Dan at Necessary Roughness said...

Two kinds of housekeepers: those who aren't cut out for it, and liars. :)

I bring home the bigger check and yet I somehow end up doing most of the cleaning, laundry, running kids to school when necessary, manning the cash register at the PTO's book fair when volunteered (seriously, wth?) :)

I am NOT content. Somebody else should be doing it. I know who would do it two or three generations ago, but in this generation it doesn't get done unless I do it. The kids are only seven and not that helpful yet. ;)

Things are just left to us to be done. We are poor miserable sinners, free in Christ to serve our neighbors, our spouse, and our progeny. Being a sinner sometimes means we don't like it. But you are still God's gift to your family (and sometimes to blog readers). :)

Glenda said...

I'm sorry. I know a little of how you feel. I think, however that I probably enjoy being domestic more than you. But I can so understand the feeling of anger when you start cleaning and the feeling of simply not wanting to do it.

I hope you have something you can punch, repeatedly. I hope that you can do what needs to be done and be able to once again go punch something, repeatedly.

Robin said...

It's okay, RPW. I, a PW also, suck at it too. Such is life. As long as their isn't mold or other health hazards and everyone can find clean socks... you're good. Hang in there. Some weeks are easier than others to keep up with the mess.

The Rebellious Pastor's Wife said...


There is such thing as "shoulds" in housekeeping when the house doesn't belong to you and relationships that can make life difficult are challenged should they see it...and have seen it.

And also when the quality of housekeeping gets in the way of getting those few basics done..and it effects how I feel about my home because I can't have it the way I want because of money, other people, and other issues. I know you know how I feel.

I also know you are right, completely right. But today I'm in a pit. Tomorrow might be better.

Dan -- I'm sure my husband can commiserate with you. While its not his strong point either, he has it together a bit better than me. My sympathies.

Glenda, thank you.

Robin, clean socks? Nope, that's above my paygrade.

I think most of the moldy stuff is gone for now. Not being able to have bread helps with that. And food isn't going bad because I am actually cooking it, rather than buying it and forgetting about it.

There's a plus. on that note, I'm going to bed.

The Rebellious Pastor's Wife said...

That being said, E.C. I'm good enough at putting the guilt on myself. It's not really anyone else's expectations, its mine. And I'm gentler on myself than many I know. I'm just VERY frustrated at the moment.

Susan said...

No advice from me. Just a hug. And I wish that I could be domestic for the both of us while you held down the job, and we could split the pay. :-) Communes -- here we come!

PS: {{{another hug}}}

Julie Wenzel said...

I'm a PW too...and am not cut out for the domestic thing. I work - mostly because we need to for our finances, but the other benefit is that I'm not home cooking & cleaning. My kids are older - but I birthed them to give me eventual slave labor...which I am now able to "collect" on a regular basis. As far as making dinner goes...I think eating is over-rated. :) Loved your post. I found myself in're not alone. Dan is right...those that "like" keeping house are just big, fat liars. :)

The Rebellious Pastor's Wife said...

Susan, that sounds like a good arrangement. :) Thanks for the hugs.

Thanks Julie, too.

It also just occurred to me, this being 1 week grain and sugar-free, that this is a detox crash.

Lord have mercy on my family the next few days.

Maybe there's a bright side out there.

Okay, bed. I mean it now. Thanks, friends.

Anonymous said...

Do you have room for one more you're not alone post? -- No advice, just that statement. Sorry about your stomach. Not feeling well, does not help. Hope today is a better day for you.

Beth said...

You know, I think you and I have alot in common.

The way housekeeping wasn't taught in childhood... emotionally crippling feelings of inadequacy... fear of having people stop by the house unannounced... sound familiar?

I've coped by teaching my older girls how to do many things around the house. I tell myself that this is because our family operates as a team and they're learning good skills that will serve them well once they grow up.

But part of me knows that it's also because I hate to clean. I'm sure I'm just giving them a whole different batch of issues to bring into their adulthood than I have.

May the Lord have mercy on me, and on us all. We are all cripplingly inadequate, in some way...some more easily observed than others.

Elephantschild said...

I'm sorry, my friend.

I was trying to help, but perhaps didn't. How I wish I could trade tasks with you, and thus lighten your burden.

The Rebellious Pastor's Wife said...

Yeah Beth, that sounds familiar. Very.

Honestly, the few things that go well in this house are the things I've handed over to my kids. The dishes get emptied, the living room gets vacuumed. The team idea makes sense, no matter what our real motives are.

E.C. -- You definitely helped. I was just clarifying what I meant. I <3 you

Ellen said...

I'm generally just a lurker on your blog, but this post made me wish there was something I could do for you. I live on the west coast and therefore cannot be of much practical help to you, but I would like you to know that I will pray for you and your family. And while I can't vouch for your domestic skills, your writing has certainly been a blessing to me.

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh...are you my twin? I loved this post and can really relate...I have often felt "surrounded by reminders of my inadequacies" as a housekeeper.
From another pastor's wife - keep up the blogging!!

Cecilia said...

I will pray for you. :o)

Jennifer Saint Joe MI said...

Thank you for being so mad even out in the open! It is so hard to have God given gifts, lay them aside for the present challenges of family and then find we are making this up as we go and as critical, unforgiving eyes look on. often our own.

Nothing really new to relate just another hug from a new reader to your blog. You are so dearly loved by an amazing God who does not size you up, leave you undefended or shake you down. He just loves. Irrespective. No matter what. Incomprehensible. Too simplistic? Yep, but still true.
I hope you feel better really soon.


Jane said...

I love you, my friend.
So much of what you said goes for me, too. I didn't particularly expect to be a mother, and for sure not a stay-at-home one. I go through the periodic bouts of, "This is not my life," when I can't fathom how I got here instead of into the career I was supposed to have.
I regularly experience the total embarrassment when someone comes to the door unexpectedly.
My kids have been lifesavers for me in the housekeeping department. I am dreadful. They have all learned to be at least average. :) Not sure what I'll do when the nest empties.
No advice from me, I'm just glad you're you.

Cheryl said...

More and more these days it seems to me that God actually places us in situations we are not cut out for. (I refuse to write "situations out for which we are not cut.") It seems like I know a lot of people who feel like this right now, myself included. If God doesn't actually put us in these situations, well then, He definitely uses them to remind us of our weakness without Him. I am someone who wants to always be in control--managing, handling, and fixing whatever comes along. In the last 10 years I have had one reminder after another that I am not in control, that I can't fix it all, that in fact I am not nearly as competent as I would like to think I am. It sucks. I don't have any great words of wisdom for you, Lora, except to say that in many and various ways ;-) you are a model for other women. If you were also a bang-up housekeeper you'd be dang near perfect. I pray that you are able to come to terms with this particular challenge in your life and find a path you can live with but that in the meantime God uses it to come to you in your weakness and remind you of His love, which cares not whether the socks are sorted or the sinks are scrubbed. God bless you and give you His peace.

Dakotapam said...

I was raised much the same as you it seems. And, like you, I detest housework. I want things clean, but I don't want to do it. And my poor , sweet Rev. really craves neatness and order. It kills me that his home is not the haven he really craves. So the kids do a lot. We are all part of a team.

Jenn said...

WOW! So could be me, except for a few things, like no celiac, and I had CHORES - too many, but never taught properly. I HATE housework. And I don't know how to do so much of it. :(

I've learned to love to cook. Honestly though, I can't stand teaching the kids. One of the biggest stresses I've got right now is that our cousin lives with us and I always feel under pressure to perform b/c she will judge me as a failure if I don't. I'm not keeping up with the stress. Oh, and she doesn't judge me. She's worried I'll judge her. Aren't we poor miserable sinners a mess? ;)

Thanks for writing this post. It's always nice to know I'm not alone.

And I think I figured out I want to do when there's no more children in the house.... ;)

Aside from hiring a maid.

Bethany said...

Now that you're feeling better, I'll draw your attention to some of the blessings I read in your post that may be easy to overlook.
You write well and people care what you have to say.
You are a damn good cook, and you taught yourself.
You have something at which you can point and say "my talents lie there."
Blessings abound! Rejoice! (as you are able)

The Rebellious Pastor's Wife said...

Yes, Bethany. You are very right, most ofall that I couldn't be blessed with better friends. And things are a lot better.

Thank you for your kind words, everyone. God bless you