Over the past few weeks, our house has been painted. As we’ve cleared furniture and decorations from the walls, I have had this driving urge to remove every speck of dust and debris from my home. I have felt the shame of the sticky soot on the top of my cabinets. I have pledged to turn over a new leaf by consistently cleaning my baseboards.
With a family of 5 young children, this urge for cleanliness can easily turn into an unhealthy quest for perfection. I find myself snapping at my children the second they leave an item out of place. I feel shame as I inevitably unearth the next hidden trove of dust and clutter in my home.
“Why can’t my children just learn to put their socks in the laundry bin?” I rage in my mind. I feel a sense of anxiety and almost desperation as I get into “the zone” of wiping out drawers and re-configuring shelf space. I feel the weight of the belief that somehow, if I really had it together, my house would always be organized, spotless, and fresh-scented. The weight is heavy.
As I have felt this urge to deep clean and bring order to my home, I have found it helpful to remind myself of these words from the Serenity Prayer: “Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, Not as I would have it.”
Through recovery, I have become a big believer in this sinful world as it is. Although this may sound pessimistic, I don’t believe that it is. Instead, I believe this perspective has freed me from the expectation that anything is ever supposed to be complete or perfect, and stay that way. This has allowed me to live with more gratitude and to be able to accept what is without fear or resentment.
I have come to be a believer in perfect moments. These are the moments when the light of my Higher Power shines through, when my pavilions and defects have been cleared for an instant, and my connection to Him is strong and unobstructed by ego, expectation, and fear.
But with this sinful world as it is, the ego, expectation and fear are always one moment away. Recovery, serenity, and connection are a One Day at a Time thing for me, even One Moment at a Time.
And so why should my house be any different? It is ridiculous to believe that my home will ever reach some status of perfection that I will somehow be able to maintain, just like I will never reach that state of recovery. Instead, there may be perfect moments, when we all finish our chores and the house smells of bleach, freshly vaccuumed floors, and lemon wood polish.
And then 10 seconds later someone is going to spill a huge bowl of Froot Loops on the floor, step in the spilt milk and track sticky footprints through the house, gathering girls’ hair and lost legos to it. That’s the nature of this sinful world.
And, like recovery, if I can wrap my brain around the nature of the beast, and accept what I’m dealing with, I can live with that. And even be reasonably happy. And when I’m not barking at my children, they’re a lot more reasonably happy too.
So here’s to “Taking this sinful world as it is” when the kids ransack the house tomorrow. I will take a deep breath. I will enjoy the moment. I will accept the mess. Here’s to moms in recovery.