23 August 2014

I Don't Do Ho-Hum

Making progress on the front!
High school ended over twelve years ago but sometimes, I feel like I'm right back where I was, especially when someone criticizes something I've done, either behind my back or to my face. At various times of my life and at various stages, whether a missionary, stay-at-home mother or woman in leadership positions, I've heard my fair share of unkind words directed unmistakably at me.
Remember what the house looked like a few short months ago???
This week, I was the unintended recipient of an email where someone said I'd done a ho-hum job on a previous social event that ironically, I thought was quite enjoyable. I know I wasn't intended to read what she'd wrote, but there it was, written for me and several others to see. I was mortified. My heart raced and I trembled with both anger and embarrassment. I am intimately aware of my own flaws and imperfections but I couldn't help thinking how unfair it all was.
Covered in raspberries.
My insecure self (who interestingly enough, feels the same way as she did way back in high school) constantly worries that people think her home is ho-hum. That she's a ho-hum person for staying at home with small children rather than fighting her way through the workforce and squandering her talents on little children who couldn't possibly appreciate them. That she's a ho-hum mother for having dirty-faced, rowdy, screaming girls who are in a constant state of motion.

The list of ho-hum seems endless.

And then I thought:

I don't do ho-hum.
The best way to enjoy ice cream: messily.
Though I feel the same insecurities with a familiar sting I've known ever since I was a little child, I have been blessed to learn from them. It hasn't made the anxiety go away, much as Paul was given a thorn of the flesh that he just couldn't be rid of, but I believe the beautiful lesson has been learning how to react to my own weaknesses.
Reaching the height where my knees begin to shake while painting...
Our home may underwhelm people at first but a ho-hum homeowner wouldn't be facing their fears, gripping the top of a ladder while painting to renew the facade of the house. They wouldn't tackle siding and making shutters and putting in new stairs and refinishing old floors and painting everything from living rooms to decks for hours on end. They wouldn't lovingly put up crown molding or fix electrical or pluming issues that no one will appreciate or enjoy. They don't get to know their house's every quirk and oddity and come to love it because it's unique. And they certainly wouldn't do it at the cost of their own blood, sweat, tears and pocketbook.
Ironically, Claire DID break this egg.
A ho-hum mother wouldn't let her kids get dirty (that would mean an extra bath), she wouldn't endure the ear-shattering screams of pure joy (that could mean a headache for her) or risk them getting sweaty or scratched or chewed up by bugs (that might mean using up all the bandages). She wouldn't bother battling constantly against clutter and certainly wouldn't budget or scrimp or save to make the underappreciated, often unnoticed role of stay-at-home mother happen. She'd avoid ice cream at all costs (too drippy), helping in the kitchen (they might cut themselves) and couch jumping (too much rowdy fun). The children wouldn't be allowed to help with construction (they might hammer a finger), touch bugs (they're gross), collect eggs (they might break them), help in the garden (they might step on plants), go in a canoe (they might fall out) or ride horses (they might fall off).
Hold on Kate! You might fall off!
By experience, I've learned at some point, people will start admiring how nice our house is. I've just been blessed with the ability to see it's potential early on and the drive to do the work. Some people may be sour about children, but my children are having a full and rich childhood that is shaping them to be fantastic, compassionate, fun-loving adults. And though some look down their nose at me raising our children rather than competing in the workforce, my husband is supportive and more than willing to make the sacrifices needed and work harder than the average to make it happen.

Ho-hum is a state of mind more than it is a statement about an activity, day or event. Unfortunately, some people think that grandiose, elaborate entertainment is the only worthwhile way to spend their time. While grand certainly is fun once in a while, more often than not, the small, unassuming moments are what matter most.
This song always pops into my head whenever I want to be unforgiving.

Really though, the most poignant lesson I've gleaned over time is in regards to the people who make me feel less than adequate. It is a measure of my own personal progression. While I'm still far from perfect, I'm learning and trying. To the woman who, for an instant, made me feel ho-hum, I initially wanted to lay into her and let her know just what I thought of her rash, unfair, ridiculous accusations. It would be easy to make her feel the way I felt by dragging her down. Rather than being petty, shallow, rude or allow an all-consuming grief take over, I swallowed my pride, took a breath, said a prayer (and spent a few moment furiously painting) and then, chose to forgive.

After all, I don't do ho-hum.

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