Tuesday, 22 May 2012

To do, or to be?

Morning, Father.

And what a beautiful morning. The sun is shining, the sky is a cloudless blue. There's a breeze to blow the washing and cool me down when I start to get too hot sitting on the bench with my coffee. 

I could sit there for hours. I don't have a problem being still.  I do it very well. I've even got a good book at the moment that I'm looking forward to getting back to. When I fell asleep last night the hero was in a tight spot and all was very tense. 

What to do. Hmm.

I have a few hours this morning before I need to be somewhere this afternoon. I am waiting for the washing machine to be finished on it's second load of the day (nice weather, so I'm catching up while I can) and so I have half an ear waiting for the pingpingping that tells me it's finished. 

This is Great Britain. Nice weather today doesn't mean nice weather tomorrow (or even this afternoon). There's a sense of urgency every sunny day; I need to make the most of it, because it may be rainy, frosty, windy or sleeting tomorrow. So I should be out in the garden, should I? Plenty needs doing in the garden. Dandelions are driving me mad, and I confess I became a little snippy with my daughters the other day when I saw them blowing dandelion clocks near the flowerbeds. Not that they're not already overgrown with weeds.

So gardening it is. But then I have some projects on my computer that need attention as soon as possible. Deadlines. I need to concentrate. Find somewhere peaceful to work. Get out my papers and notebooks and settle down. And then when I do sit down and open the lid of my faithful little machine, I find that I want to come and pass the time of day with you. So the project gets a bit sidelined while I come to chat. 

From where I'm sitting I can see a layer of dust on the bookshelf. I've just been in the bathroom and although I wiggled the toilet-brush round and squirted the squirty stuff where it needs squirting the job isn't done. The mirrors need polishing and the floor mopping. The bath has a bit of a ring round it if I look closely, so I do my best not to look. 

Priorities. I have no idea where they should be. I have tomato, cucumber and pepper seedlings on the kitchen window sill but if you walk about barefoot you'll probably step on a rice krispie or three.  I have fresh flowers in a vase but they will probably still be right where they are now when they're dead and dry.  The stair carpet is ageing prematurely because I don't vacuum it often enough, but it's so difficult with a heavy vacuum with a long bendy hose that's difficult to manoeuvre...and that sounds suspiciously like an excuse. 

I have two bathmats so that one can be in the wash while the other is on duty. Quite often the second bathmat is in dire need of a clean and the other is still curled up waiting for its turn in the machine. I have some beautiful pictures framed and in a pile waiting to be hung on the wall but they've been there a month and are likely to be there in another. 

There are many things in our house that don't have a place to live, and so they flock together to make piles in a few prime locations.  The kitchen table. The counter where the filing lurks. My bedside table. The little shelf under the coffee table. That's a good one. Out of sight, out of mind. Whole families of plastic animals have colonised that spot, unnoticed. Important paperwork has remained there until dates have expired and opportunities lost. The wings from Katy's fairy costume were there for months until one day she discovered them and fluttered away. I have no idea where they are now.

Look at Mr Gorgeous. 
There was a wonderful dragonfly on the wall basking in the sunshine in our front garden the other day. If I'd been in the house tidying I'd have missed him completely. 

I am not the sort of mother who spends the afternoons cooking amazing meals from scratch for their children's tea. I have no idea what we'll eat tonight. I need to survey the contents of the fridge and see what I can put together in a hurry. Since it's a nice day we might picnic in the garden. They love to have tea in a lunchbox and eat it sitting on cushions on the grass. If I throw together a carrot, some salami, some grapes, cucumber, apple, a bread roll and some blueberries they call it 'Bits and bobs' and it's among their favourite meals. They have it far too often as it's so easy. 

The beds need making. Some stay-at-home mums do a round of the house as soon as they return from the school run. They clean and they tweak and they straighten and they tidy.  Most often my girls climb into the same bed in the same state that they left it in that morning. I put clean clothes away each evening but discarded socks can roll around the floor like tumbleweed sometimes before I scoop them into the washing basket.

I clearly have my finger on the pulse of family life.

The clock in the hall died more than a year ago and tells the right time at 12.45 in the afternoon and then again in early morning. It needs repairing. The double glazing on the front window needs some attention as there's condensation between the panes. The gravel needs raking and weeding before we disappear behind a giant dandelion. I bought some beautiful heather plants from a garden centre about six weeks ago and they have yet to be planted. I think they've already flowered in their little pots. 


Lazy?  Yes, partly. I'm sure that's it. If I got more exercise I'd be more energetic. I don't get much exercise because I haven't got much energy. That's true.

It's not just that. The dust always seems ok to wait until another day. The plants need planting but before I can plant the soil needs preparing and the weeds are knee high in places, which is a totally different job and nowhere near as much fun. I love to see the children enjoying a meal I've cooked but I so often don't want to spend precious quiet time preparing it. I like seeing them eating a picnic too. 


I like spending time with you. I come to you and start to chat and at the end of our conversation I feel different. Better. Sometimes challenged, sometimes convicted, but always better. I feel better able to take another step. 

In need of weeding.
Friend to wildlife. that's me.
I like to sit and look at what's around me. From where I'm sitting now I can see the blue sky and the clothes on the washing line dancing in the breeze. The birds are feeding on a net of sunflower seeds that mum has put out for them. Sparrows and blackbirds and starlings and collared doves and the odd thug jackdaw to scatter them all. The hawthorn tree is laden with white blossom and the cherry that we transplanted from our old house finally looks healthy at home after two and a half years. 

I love to sit with a coffee and let a ladybird wander over my finger. I love to see the bumble bees on the aubretia. The forget-me-nots are taking over. 

Elizabeth tied a ribbon to the clothes post and it gives us the wind direction like a weathervane. I like to potter in the greenhouse and see my little seedlings poke their heads above the parapet. I love to plan what to do in the garden; and at the time of planning (coffee in hand) I firmly believe that it will all come to pass...

Maybe I need to intersperse more 'should do' between all the 'like to do', do I, God? Does anyone do it all? Those mums with clean houses and sparkly children who fingerprint and don't seem to mind the mess, who eat home-cooked-from-fresh-organic-ingredients meals each day and have such a varied diet that trips to restaurants don't entail a nightmare or menu-scrutiny; do they have daily wrestles with themselves about how to spend a precious uncommitted morning? Or do they just get on with the bed making and dusting selflessly and without hesitation like the generation before us? 

I don't know the answer. I am not that house proud. Oh, don't get me wrong, when it's house group night my kitchen, living room and cloakroom are spotless. All other doors are closed. What a ridiculous thing to do. Maybe I do my bit also to perpetuate the myth that we can all do everything. Maybe I should let the vulnerable, dusty, untidy underbelly of my housekeeping show once in a while, just to make everyone feel better. But what if, horror of horrors, they don't need to feel better because their houses are spotless and their beds all made and children buffed and beautifully presented without toothpaste or marmalade on their school faces? 

My house isn't so filthy that we are likely to get ill from it. In any case, a bit of grubbiness is good for the immune system, isn't it?  If there's fruit and vegetables and carbohydrates and protein in their Bits and Bobs meals they are reasonably healthy, aren't they?  If there are wild areas of the garden it's nice for the butterflies and bees, isn't it? 

I like spending time with you. I like looking. I like noticing. I like telling you about it. 

To do, or to be?  Probably there's a balance to be found. Somewhere...

I could do with losing the guilt, but then perhaps nothing at all would get done. If I got that clock mended then maybe I wouldn't be late everywhere. 

Well, food for thought. Thankyou. 

I'm going to make a fresh cup of coffee because this one has gone cold. And then I'm going to go outside and sit down and close my eyes and turn my face up to the sun. 

Or maybe I'll look for ladybirds.

1 comment:

  1. Don't stop the 'being'... I am sure it is where so much of your inspiration comes from for writing this wonderful blog!


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