Sunday, September 7, 2008

Keeping House - reading about it, not doing it

Even though apparently only other bloggers read blogs on the weekend, I still want to share some quotes from the book I mentioned yesterday.

Oh wait! Nobody actually GOT to the bottom of yesterday's post to notice the book I mentioned. Everyone stopped reading and commenced to commentin' at the fact that I divulged my sitemeter statistics of 77 visits per day last week - average.

I knew all this Truth in Blogging and Transparency would some day blow up in my humble face. I guess there are just some things you don't share in a public forum. We live in a number-phobic world, girls.

Let's not let our worth be tied up in other's approval, OK?

It is OK, isn't it? Because if you think it's not I'll delete it right away! Seriously, just say the word. (insert big grin, here..because I don't know how to do html yet..)

Back to the book, Keeping House: The Litany of Everyday Life by Margaret Peterson -
these next passages are from the section on "handling emergencies and disruptions in the home."(I'm skipping a lot of her introductory remarks - You really need to get the book...Or borrow it from me a couple of weeks. But if you buy it from amazon, wait a day or two until I take Jodi's advice from her comment yesterday. I just might be able to profit off of you and your desire to be a godly homemaker.)

"Routines are obviously a good thing on routine days- days when nothing out of the ordinary happens, when no circumstances arise that make it difficult to go through with things as planned. But what about when such circumstances do arise? Life is unpredictable, after all."

"A truly human life is one that is lived not only in life's strengths but in its weaknesses as well. A well-kept house is thus a house in which it is safe to be weak, because the members of the household take care of one another. And in a more everyday way, it is a house in which it is safe to be hungry (there is food in the cupboard), safe to be tired (there are places to sit and places to sleep), safe to need clean socks (there are some in the drawer)."

"Efficiency can be the enemy of hospitable housekeeping, especially in the face of small or large emergencies. All too often, efficiency is just another name for being spread too thin. A few years ago there were massive cascading power failures all over the eastern United States that were eventually attributed in part to design features meant to make the distribution of power as efficient as possible. It turned out that because all parts of the system were working at maximum efficiency all the time, the system as a whole had no way to adjust to problems, and small-scale disruptions rapidly became large-scale catastrophes.

Maximum efficiency in housekeeping routines can have the same effect. If we are working as fast as we can, all the time, there is no way to adjust to the inevitable disruptions. Moreover, maximum efficiency easily turns into no rest for the weary.

You are never done because the plan is never to be done; the plan is to be working at something or other, full speed ahead, all the time. And maximum efficiency tends implicitly to devalue the work itself or to reflect its devaluation by others. You are working as fast as possible and doing as little as possible - - why? Perhaps because you are inclined to think the work has no intrinsic value or pleasure associated with it. Or perhaps because you know that no one is going to help you, so it does not seem feasible or worthwhile to give any more time to it than absolutely necessary."

"Nurturance and caregiving are notoriously inefficient. Insofar as housekeeping participates in and forms part of the infrastructure for nurturance and care, it makes good sense for housekeeping to be designed not for maximum efficiency but for appropriate redundancy. We need to plan to take enough time to do the work - perhaps not always as much time as might be ideal but enough time that on a normal day most of the things that need to be done can get done and on a hard day there are corners that can be cut."

The part that struck me in what Mrs. Peterson said was the erroneous mindset of thinking work has no intrinsic value and no pleasure can be gained from it. A "just get it done and move on" attitude. I must admit, for me there is great pleasure in the "fruit" of a job well done...but not necessarily much pleasure in the performance of the job itself.

That's definitely my attitude about cooking - and maybe that's why I don't enjoy it more. I work hard at it (because it does not come easy for me) and the family eats it - and then it's gone (hopefully.) And then they're hungry again a little while later and the process continues. "Appropriate redundancy"....hmmmm.. I need to think about that for awhile.

And seeing work as part of my nurturing and caregiving should bring more of a sense of purpose and pleasure, maybe even worship, since it's the job He's called me to do. Right?

This book has inspired me- and I'm going to try an attitude change this week and see if it makes a difference in my cooking.

Is there an area of housekeeping that could use an attitude adjustment on your part?

Confession is good for the soul, friends. Let us know what area you'd like to work on seeing more as a part of your nurturing and caregiving and less as something to do quickly and efficiently in order to get it out of the way.


Laura said...

I like the part about the well kept house is a place where it is safe to be weak because the members of the house take care of each other. That is what I want to happen in my house.

I need improvement in teaching and instructing. Most of the time it is just easier to do it myself. Then I get distracted and it doesn't get done.

Kelley said...

Yes, I like that part too!

I guess I shouldn't detest mopping my floors every other day as much as I do. This will challenge me to think of it as an act of love/worship since it does more than just keep me sane...

I'd love to borrow the book! Do you deliver?

Katie said...

Thanks for your sweet comment. I could so use you for a mentor!!! Wow, God has used you and your life in amazing ways. I can't wait to read more. Take Care-

jax said...

I read yesterday's entire post! I guess your sitemeter thingy doesn't tell you which of your readers are the most loyal. :)
I probably should view laundry as something other than the bane of my existence ... although at first I couldn't think of anything I do "too efficiently"! (I still can't ... somehow your perfect-housekeeping genes didn't really get passed on to me.)

lea said...

ooh i might need that book. let me add it to my 4,786 books i need pile on my amazon wish list. i do tend to think in terms of "get this done and checked off my list" even though it will need to be done every day or every week. i consider all housework/cooking etc to be things that must be conquered before getting on the the things that really matter... but maybe sometimes the mundane things are the things that really matter.

homeschoolerz said...

I, too, need to change my attitude, especially when it comes to the things we do over and over and over again, and no one seems to notice, unless it's NOT done! Thanks for a great, thought-inspiring post.

Kahlua Keeping Koala said...

I need help organizing.

Debbie said...

OK, Kanani - I'm penciling you in for an organizational date. Call me. I prefer my pay in chocolate.