Posted in Blogfest Entries, Just for Fun!, Life Writing, Love Is In Da Blog, Parenting, Uncategorized, Unschooling

#LoIsInDaBl Day 5: Love, Service, and Paradigm Shifts, Oh My!

 

Put a Little Love in Yours!
Put a Little Love in Yours!

How do you show others that you love them? For that matter, how do you know you do? And, while we’re on the subject, just what the heck is this love thing, anyway?

Today, Bee‘s prompt urges us to consider opinionated love – the darker aspects of the feeling. My own idea for the day was to write about love through service. I’m going to combine these ideas.

This last week, I cleaned every piece of the kids’ wooden train set. The kids used it often when they were little, but hadn’t for a while. But when I suggested giving it away, they balked; they still wanted it. So I cleaned each piece with oil soap, and scrubbed the bin, making it usable and inviting again…it was a high-detail, time-intensive activity, and it made me happy.

There was a time, a few years ago, when I saw life very differently. Back then, it seemed that my whole life was wrapped up in maintaining my obligations to my extended family unit. I often felt, hugely taken advantage of, used, taken for granted, and left holding the bag.

My pet peeve was, and, sometimes, still is, cleaning.

All cleaned up! I finished while watching Shakespeare Uncovered.

When I saw so much of life as odious duty, I expected to be appreciated for “getting it done”. When someone made a mess in an area I had just cleaned, I was and furious to have my work “undone”, my limited energy “wasted”, my time “devalued”.

My hard work and constant struggle to live up to standards of cleanliness was in conflict with the realities of my life. And, when it got to be too much, I would explode at the nearest targets.

One night, when the kids were about 5 and 2, my Accomplice came home to find them both sitting on the low steps to our sunken living room, sobbing – and me in the room, screaming and screeching while I gesturing wildly and flung things around. He called me a monster, and I turned on him. I knew what it was to live with abuse; this was nowhere near as bad, and these kids were lucky to have me as their mother.

I thought that I showed my love by being a good mother, and a good wife. I measured my ‘goodness’ by how I kept the house and kids, and by being vigilantly, by instilling values into my children, by doing things that could be easily measured.

But my children were afraid of me when I yelled, and my husband thought I was a monster, and I was echoing things that had been said to me when I was a kid – things I’d sworn I would never say, if I was ever anyone’s mother.

And then I read this amazing post on service.  It changed the way I saw my role in my family. Over time, it’s made a huge difference in the way I approach the matters of home and hearth – what I now call ‘hometending’, to remind myself of what my objective is in doing it.

A new resting place.

Now, I do only the homtending I want to do each day, and, I try to do them with a spirit of service.

I don’t expect things to stay clean forever, once I clean them. Clean spaces are meant for living in, and living, at least here, tends toward a degree of untidiness that can spiral at times of intense activity or intense growth.

Learning how to remain calm when I’m overwhelmed – but I see that learning, too, as a gift of service, not only to my family, but to myself…because it doesn’t help anything to launch into a diatribe about it, and it makes the problem feel insurmountable.

These days, I’m more likely to ask someone to pitch in, when I’m overwhelmed. I accept that ‘no’ is a possible answer – and I accept that I can say no, too. I even do, sometimes, when I can’t bring a spirit of service to my hometending.

And what about the trains? They were almost immediately back in use…after which I found them a new place in my study to live, so that they won’t get grubby again…

Cleaning them was a service – a labor of love, and a way of showing, not that I’m a “good mom” who keeps kids and house clean, because other things didn’t get cleaned while I was busy with the trains – and, let’s face it, it’s rather invisible as efforts go.

I was demonstrating my love, my willingness to go “out of my way” for their benefit. I could’ve left the bin grubby, or given the trains away over protests; there was a time when I would have done one or the other, most likely as a “logical consequence” of some perceived misdeed.

Instead, I cleaned the trains, and got to see the joy they brought Annalise when she was able to use them again. I also got to see her clean them up, without anyone saying anything about it – her own act of loving service.

It’s ridiculously easy to say “I love you.” People say it all the time; they don’t always mean it. It’s not so hard to do things, and say it’s out of love – even when it’s hurting the ones we love.

When I show my love in the form of willing, happy service, magic can happen. I’m filled up by the offering, and again when it’s received. Better, by far, to have a house less tidy, and flowing over with imagination and laughter than one that’s clean and filled with screaming and crying.

I think, in order to truly show my love, I have to live it. I have to be willing to extend myself to and for those I love. I need to see my beloveds, and tend to their needs in ways that honor them – and me.

This post is part of Love Is In Da Blog! Read or join in anytime!

Slightly untidy house, happy train play. WINNING! Photo credit: Annalise S. Burton

Author:

I am myself. I own my life, and live with three other people who own theirs. My intention is to do only those things that bring me joy, and to give myself wholly to those things I do. Writing has been my passion throughout my life, and this will become the home for my writing life...because it brings me great joy!

14 thoughts on “#LoIsInDaBl Day 5: Love, Service, and Paradigm Shifts, Oh My!

  1. I can relate to the screaming banshee because someone messed up what I had just cleaned up. Not proud to say that I’ve done that too. So glad you were able to make a shift to a place where you and your family are a lot happier.

    Hubs and I spent the last couple days cleaning the house from top to bottom for an event we are holding here tomorrow. Tonight we were both basking in the pleasure of having a clean house. It is a good feeling, even though I’m not crazy about the effort it takes to get there.

    1. I seldom yell about anything anymore. If, back then, someone had told me that the vast majority of the solution was in shifting my own perceptions – I probably would have screamed at them.

      I didn’t realize how broken my own family dynamic was until I started to heal myself, and my family. Growing up, our house was a lot cleaner than ours is now – and it was like living in an armed camp in a war zone (a lot like M*A*S*H), where I never knew when the next skirmish, ambush, or out-and-out war would crop up.

      Here – it’s peaceful. Sure, people disagree, and sometimes there’s turbulence, but it’s different – the stuff of life with no cruelty. Usually, things work out fairly quickly once tempers settle and we can think it through more rationally.

      I actually love days when my Accomplice and I putter with various projects. We do our own things, or work together, and intersect often. We did it more often before the kids, but we’re finding our way back to that now that they’re older. It’s fun, and kinda sexy, to tend our home together that way! =D

  2. What a wonderful post. I love the word “hometending.” My big paradigm shift was to learn to focus on the things my Mate finds important, that I don’t–like pushing chairs back to the table when I get up, or closing drawers all the way–rather than thinking him silly or fussy for wanting them that way. And guess what…he reciprocates. 🙂

    1. Just learning to use this word really helped me to make the shift.

      And, maybe expectedly, learning to see hometending as a service helped me learn to respect the preferences of my beloveds.

      Not to mention that I’m a lot happier! =)

  3. This is such a great approach. I know people who beat themselves up because of the way their house is (or isn’t). That attitude of service is inspiring. I like the term “housetending.” Lots to think about here. Thanks! 🙂

    1. Deborah, I’ve missed you! ❤

      I used to be one of those people…it's a little less tidy, but a lot sweeter, today.

      Looking at it as "hometending" really helps me to focus on the benefits for us all, rather than the work.

      Popping right over to see you!

      1. It’s been really difficult for me to find my way back, even though I really want to be here. But I’m working through the things that will get me back to the US. And I’m trying to do some blogging to keep my hand in until I have a little more time to do it more frequently.

        I can see how the “hometending” concept works. It’s a way of consciously changing attitudes and perspectives about the tasks. ❤

        1. It seems that the most important changes can also be the trickiest to implement…at least in my life.

          I love your clutter challenge idea, and I’d jump right in, except that we’re heading to Oregon for a family vacation mid-month, and getting ready for that is taking up more and more of my time, as we get closer to it.

          If you decide to do it again, or extend it, though – I’ll join in. March is a relatively wide-open month for me, before I dive into intensive writing challenges April-July.

          The simple change from ‘housekeeping’ or ‘chores’ to ‘hometending’ has reshaped my perspective almost totally – and it extends past home maintenance and into other areas of life, too! =)

          1. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I like the idea of a March challenge. But for me personally, I have my Intensive Writing program for 20 students who will be visiting our university from Japan. However, it occurs to me that I could make a few blog posts about their visit my goal for a March challenge. hmmmmm, have to think about that. 🙂

  4. Oh dear, the household thing. I used to be pretty messy even though I had a habit of cleaning up once a week but I felt it was a real chore. Until …. well I really don’t know until when. Today I do a little bit every day and can keep a cleanliness balance we all are happy with. But it’s easier for me as the kids mainly live with their mother and two adults alone just do not live as intense in a household as two added children do. I think you achieved a lot and you showed your children that change is possible. That I believe is a very important message.

    1. Unschooling is many things, to us – tidy and orderly aren’t consistently among them, although it’s gotten gradually better, in fits and starts, as the kids get older.

      The last couple of years, we’ve been looking at problem areas and trying to find solutions we can all live with. It’s amazing how quickly that jumble of coats and boots and STUFF conglomerating by the front door was tamed by the simple act of repurposing a cabinet (now a pantry!), hanging enough hooks for everyone to have a place for their coat, and the dog’s lead, too, and ading a basket for shoes and boots. Simple and inexpensive – we had most of what we needed already. All we really needed was to see the possibilities instead of just the problem.

      And, yeah – there have been vast changes here, from the time they were 7 and 4, so they totally get that things can change profoundly, and so can people. =)

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