Do Better December 11th 2014 Grace and other Everyday Miracles

11 Dec

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If you’re following along with Do Better December, you know that I had what I call a bump in the road the other day with my boys. I try not to dwell on those moments because it can cause a downward spiral in my attitude and emotions and that doesn’t help anyone. It’s interesting to me, though, how just a day or two later, I can be faced with a similar situation and react so differently. Last night was one of those nights. Last night, I forgot to sit with my son while he was doing homework. The night before, he had a band commitment. I had forgotten to check his progress on some of his homework, and last night it came back to haunt me. One assignment I had told him to do in chunks each night hadn’t been done. It was 10:30. I wanted to go to bed, but I knew if I did that the assignment wouldn’t get finished and the backsliding would begin again. Yes, there is a part of me that said, “Too bad, so sad; you have to live with the consequences of your decisions.” That kind of thinking worked with my oldest son. The idea of failing sickens him and motivates him to hunker down and get things done. This one is wired differently. Thinking about consequences is not motivating for him. He isn’t one who has to be the best at everything. I’m not sure he wants to be the best at anything other than being himself. I relate much better to my older son’s way of thinking. I am motivated by similar things. I work very hard to be a good mom, good wife and lately a better and better writer. As I was thinking about this, though, I do understand my younger son as it relates to two areas of my own life, housework and finances.

As much as I’ve tried over the years, I really don’t enjoy doing either housework or finances, and unfortunately my entire family seems to be the same way. It seems like most families I know have at least one person who is born organized. They revel in order and stave off chaos. I envy those families because I know how wonderful an organized and clean home feels. I’ve worked very hard to create that for my family with varying degrees of success over the years and with an improving attitude as well. There was a time that I would wait until things got bad or until I “had the time” to do housework. You know what happens when you wait until you have the time to do housework when you are an easily distractible people person? You never have the time until you know you are having someone over and you go into panic mode and make everyone around you miserable because you become what I call a cleaning banshee. You clean alright, but you complain and whine about how unfair it is that you have to clean up someone else’s mess, and God forbid if they try to help you because they will never do it good enough and you’ll either “fix” what they’ve done or complain about it not being done to your standards. I know I’m not the only one who has ever done that, and it leaves everyone feeling empty and unhappy. There have been times when I’ve wondered if having a clean house was worth the effort and craziness, but my friends, it is.

Because of my youngest son’s medical condition requiring daily medication and his ADHD functioning better with routine and less clutter, I was motivated and inspired to get my life together in the housework arena. Motivation is different than inspiration. Motivation is an outside pressure that forces you to change. Inspiration is an inside urge to change. Both can be powerful. Both can be fulfilling, but when you combine them, it is a force that feels like you can move mountains. The problem for me was that I didn’t know how to do what I wanted to do. My mom cleaned every week for a couple of hours and her home was spotless. I could spend four hours and not have my house look half as good as hers. I truly wondered if I had some defect when it came to housekeeping, especially when I thought about several other family members who had lifelong struggles with it as well. Maybe being messy was genetic. Maybe my creative side couldn’t wrap my head around how to make it work. Maybe I was doomed to be a housecleaning failure. Then, in a seminar I was attending in September of 2002, someone mentioned a website. Understand that in 2002, mentioning a website was not a common thing. Email was a fairly new addition to most homes and spending time online was something only a few people did, at least in my neck of the woods. I checked out this website and FlyLady came into my life.

For the first time someone was telling me step by step how to get control of my home. I had a system. It wasn’t perfect. It didn’t always work for me the way she said it would, but it was a start. Then I found her mentor, Pam Young. Pam’s approach was more detailed and a bit gentler. Instead of a friendly drill sergeant like FlyLady, I had a virtual big sister who was encouraging me to use her system to create my own. I “got” it for the first time in my life. I understood that I didn’t have to clean a house like my mother, who was a born organized person, did, but I could still have a home that I was proud to have people walk into rather than one that I was embarrassed to have anyone see. Twelve years later, I’ve learned some other important lessons. I’ve learned to make peace with the idea that if something more fun than housework pops up, I’m probably going to say yes to it and leave the housework behind, but when I don’t have something really fun to do; making time to manage my home brings a peace to the entire family. I’ve learned that lists are amazing things, and that my boys would much rather have list of things written down for them to do and check off than to have their mom nagging at them to do this chore or that one. I’ve learned that having a system to tell you what to do, a willingness to adapt it to suit your life and an openness to continually adjusting and making that system work for you can create miracles. I still don’t like to clean, but I love the results of what I now call blessing my home and the best thing that happened is that I “met” other people from around the world who were struggling like I was. We have become online friends, which I would compare to being the modern version of pen pals. They are group of women I’ve come to care about deeply and with whom I share my biggest challenges, my deepest sorrows and my greatest joys. They are a regular part of my life and the greatest gift from learning to manage my home.

The other thing I don’t like doing is finances. Part of that is because for so many years, we scraped to get by. We always seemed to have more month than money. We knew part of it was because of medical expenses. We knew part of it was because we only had one income. What we didn’t know was that the income we did make could be managed so much better. We read books by Robert Kiyosaki and Suze Orman and others. We read The Millionaire Next Door. We watched shows and wondered what we were doing wrong. Why did people who made less money than we did succeed when we seemed to struggle every month. Nothing clicked until we found Dave Ramsey. When we did, our finances finally began to make sense. Dave’s plan lays everything out in mostly laymen’s terms in baby steps that anyone can follow. We made more progress in two and a half years than we had in almost two decades. We understood things we’d never understood before. Our finances improved and so did our lives, and although we’ve not been as dedicated to the system as we’ve been in the past, we have already talked about how we will be re-visiting the system in earnest after the holidays and know that has kept our spending in check for the holidays as well.

How does this all relate to my son who doesn’t like to do homework? The answer is finding or developing a system that works for you. That’s what we’re doing for my son right now. We’ve realized that having someone sitting in the room with him helps him to stay focused. Leaving him to work on his own lets him get distracted. I know that by his age most kids are working alone and I’ve had that with my other children. I understand that to function as an adult, he will need to be able to work alone at times. I also understand that I much prefer to have company when I do a task that is unpleasant to me. If the housework seems particularly overwhelming, I ask my family to pitch in, even if it is just for 15 minutes. Those few minutes help me to feel supported. They lift me up and they give me hope that we can have the home we’ve always wanted. The same thing happens with finances. If my husband sits with me for just a little while, I feel like we can conquer anything, and we’ve slayed more than a few financial dragons together, including a $35,000 credit card debt, and we did it in two and a half years. My husband and I are a great financial team. My family and I are a great house blessing team. My youngest son and I are becoming a great homework team. Some people like my son and I work better in collaboration than isolation. In the workplace, getting the job done is important, but so is being able to work with others. While we still have some skills to work on, the system that currently works for him is developing other skills he needs to succeed in life. The older he gets the more I realize how much about myself I learn from him and how I can translate what works for me to his life so he won’t be in his forties by the time he figures himself out. My triumphs can lessen his struggle. My learning can lessen his frustration, and my willingness to give up some of my time can be the launch pad to his success. If we’re not willing to give up the time to help our kids succeed, what’s the purpose of parenthood? To me, it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make, now I just have to remember to make it and not have us both up until midnight because I’ve forgotten to put myself in the room with him. It won’t be forever, but it will be worth it, because after an hour and a half of working on an assignment with him last night, we both realized he wouldn’t have been able to do it on his own. We worked together to help him create quality work. We gave each other our time and attention and the result was slightly miraculous. The work was good. We were tired and not an angry word was spoken. We both knew we would be tired this morning. We both knew it would be tough getting through the day, but we also knew my son would be proud to turn in the work he did and that he learned something in the process. He learned about history, but he also learned about perseverance, that his mom’s got his back and that he can find the answers he is looking for. I learned that no matter how tired I might think I am, I can always dig a little deeper and find a bit of patience, and I am thankful for the grace in those moments. Last night seemed like a little miracle in my life. I look for them every day, and I am delighted when I find them. I am delighted even more when I can share them with someone else. Today I share that with you. As always, thanks for being you and have a great day.


One Response to “Do Better December 11th 2014 Grace and other Everyday Miracles”


  1. Do Better December 11th 2014 Grace and other Everyday Miracles | karenbemmes aka Better Living Daily - December 11, 2014

    […] Do Better December 11th 2014 Grace and other Everyday Miracles. […]

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