Action Expresses Priorities

May 2, 2014




I got an email from my cousin recently. She stated simply, if rather tongue in cheek, that she was not sure she could continue to read my blog, because my house was always too perfect and it was beginning to make her feel bad about herself.  I laughed as I looked around at my kitchen, in complete and total disarray, snapped a quick pic on my cell and sent it to her. I told her that the photo was a much more accurate representation of my home, than the blog.


She was very relieved!

I'm not going to lie, I am a total clean freak and I do like my house to look magazine photo worthy all the time, but that is just not realistic. I have kids, a husband, other interests and responsibilities, all of which add up to a rather messy existence sometimes...lately, more times than I would prefer.


When the kids were young, it was so much easier to spend time with them. I taught nursery school where they went and when we came home, they ate lunch and watched a little tv to relax, while I whipped around the house to clean up. Then we left the space, all tidy, to go to the park or a friend's house. After dinner and baths, I would stay up late and clean some more, so everything would be pretty for the next morning. It was simple, routine, they were small and easy to contain.

However, my kids are not babies anymore. They are on the brink of adulthood and will, most likely, be leaving home in a few short years and the life I know and adore now, will be gone forever.  As it is, their extracurricular and social schedules leave little room for family time. So when they are home, eating, making a big mess, I want to be with them, engaged, chatting. I don't want to be cleaning. When they need a ride, I am happy to drop what I am doing (more cleaning) to carpool them around, get to meet their friends and casually "overhear" those valuable conversations with peers.

When my daughter asks me to watch a favorite show with her at 10pm, I do. I used to multitask, fold laundry or pay bills during this time, but not anymore. I want to be fully present. We laugh together, I get to hear the details of her day during commercials and we share inside jokes and comments about it long after.

So there may be a few dishes in my sink or a kitchen table full of bills strewn about some nights when I go to bed and you know what, that's ok.  I have stopped being a slave to my house. My priorities are different now. I would rather spend my time with the people I love than miss out on precious moments, so my house looks perfect every minute of every day. 

I still love it when my home is at its best and most days it's pretty close, but a clean kitchen will not laugh at my jokes, the laundry is not going to hug me and ask me to watch a movie and that never ending pile of papers is never going shoe shopping with me.

My mom used to tell me that as you get older the house becomes less important, you will come to value other things more, she'd say. I used to laugh. She just didn't get my love of design, the joy I derived from feathering my nest, the sense of peace I felt inside when I looked around my pristine home before bed. We were different, she and I. I would never feel that way.

My mother is in a nursing home now and you know what, clean clothes still get dirty, mail is delivered and needs to be attended to each and every day, dust accumulates on the dressers and shoes pile up at the back door...and they will continue to do so long after my mom is gone and my kids have moved out.

Chores are infinite, what I hold most dear, is not.

Well, enough of the heavy stuff, I am off to make my beds now...I mean after all, I haven't totally lost my sense of priorities.




Update: Here's my kitchen this morning, in case that first shot was making you nervous! ;)



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54 comments:

  1. LOL! Amen to evrything you said Kim! My house esp. my kitchen can be a mess too, but cleaning up is not my priority now as well, time with the kiddos and hubs, makes me happiest of all. :-)

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    1. Sometimes a messy kitchen is the evidence of a really fun time or a really great meal together ~ I try to remember that when I am looking at the mess! :)

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  2. Hi Kim, wow now I don't feel so bad and that it is just me! My dining room table gets like that with everyone throwing their stuff on it. Yes time with the kids is more important because time goes fast. Have a nice weekend. :0)

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    1. That table gets covered up pretty quickly, doesn't it Julie? As soon as I get it cleaned off, they are back with more stuff...some days, I would just rather leave the mess and go out for ice cream!

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  3. Well spoken! I like things tidy too but there are times that it looks like a tornado came through. My thing is that I'm a worrier...keeping things clean makes me feel better. It's one thing I can semi control. I do want my family to remember that we had a beautiful welcoming home and not that I was too much of a perfectionist to have fun.

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  4. Great topic, Kim, and you expressed your opinion well. xoxo I empathize with how you feel. Disordered is how my "madhatter" library looks:current projects are all over the floor, and the other day, I hurt myself when I slipped on a bead, and fell. Slipped, because the floor is concrete and the bead rolled, and I went with it. I have discovered that people don't click on my ugly photos, so I decided not to post them anymore or put them lower down in the post. :) Social media has changed how we interact, and so quickly. Our closest friends and family members have seen the real messes, but in blogland many people are just looking for inspiration. Have a great weekend!

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    1. Oh Su, I am so sorry to hear that you fell. A fall on concrete floor sounds painful. I hope that you were not injured. I agree with you, beautiful pictures and eye candy are certainly much, much more popular than the reality shots of people's lives. I am actually surprised that this post is as popular as it's been! I know that my cousin was joking about feeling bad (her kitchen is stunning...and always clean!), but I wondered if others, non-blogging readers, were also getting the wrong impression. I guess that's why I felt even more compelled to post. Life is messy, raising a family is messy, even redecorating, creating and crafting is messy...and all good at the same time!

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  5. Kim-We are kindred spirits...and I am ashamed to say I let too much of my kid's childhood slip away in my quest for the ever-perfect home. I would stay up half the night cleaning because I couldn't stand to get up to a dirty (to me-probably not to anyone else) house. I did give the kids rides and we had a lot of kids in our home but I know I could have spent more quality time. Even if I was sitting I was doing "something"..needlework-folding clothes, etc.

    I am glad you figured this out at your age. You still have all that time with your kids to enjoy it. I am enjoying it now with my grandkids-and am much more relaxed about it all-something I never dreamed would happen. As I type, there are two heavy dishes soaking in the sink that could have been scrubbed 2 hours ago----lol I've come a long way, baby! xo Diana

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    1. Good for you, Diana, let those pans sit and enjoy those grandbabies! I am really trying to let some things sit, although it is not a natural state for me. I really do like a perfect home, too. Trust me, I still reach for the laundry some nights and then the kids say, "Mommmm...." and I put it back down! I guess sometimes a mouthy teen comes in handy!!

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  6. Kim, you are still, and especially, my hero! And this is quite timely. We have a weekend home, where we have obligations in the community every Saturday night. When we arrived last night, I looked at the projects all over the living room and was discouraged because it seems there is never a weekend when the place doesn't look like that! I do have to decorate a few 'flat spots' that have been collecting junk, and then it will look some better, but the point is that all those projects represent something that I'm doing for someone else. And that is important, too. I have all week at 'home' to do stuff for my husband and myself.

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    1. Nancy, it sounds as if you are doing wonderful work for others. Mess is part of creation and although it's tough to relax in its presence, you're right, what that mess represents is lovely!!! :)

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  7. Well done! I believe your almost adult children will remember your time with them for a lifetime! Thanks for sharing and lovely kitchen BTW! :)

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    1. I hope so, V and thanks for the kitchen compliment! :)

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  8. You are so right, Kim! As my kids get older, I realize more and more how our time with them at home is going by quickly. My son is a sophomore this year. His game playing equipment used to be in our basement but we temporarily moved it upstairs recently and now I think it's staying even though we have controllers and game boxes all over the place. That's okay because now I see him a lot more and we tend to have many more conversations. Definitely worth living with a little messiness!

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    1. Funny, right, JoAnne? We spend all this time making fabulous family rooms and basement play areas to cordon off the mess and thereby our kids...only to realize that we crave the "mess" after all! :)

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  9. What a great post! Actually its 2:00 pm on a Saturday afternoon and my kitchen really looks like the first picture. I think you're mother was right, chores are always there waiting, opportunities for people you love or things you enjoy are not. I retired less than a year ago and all the things I thought I would do are not happening. I am secretly wishing for a condo or something that doesn't require as much work as my house does. The older you get, the less you care about the "things." Geez, and I just finished accumulating all of it thinking that would be what I'd want when I had the time to spend with it. I was wrong. :)

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    1. Oh boy, maybe I should print out your comment and pin it to me fridge as a sage reminder when I feel the urge to buy! I say leave the mess there Linda and go out and enjoy your retirement!

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  10. Oh, Kim...I am so very much like you...wow! I need to read this again and learn from...so beautifully written in so many ways! Beautiful soul of yours, indeed!

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    1. Thank you, Jen. I am always so flattered by your words.

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  11. Beautifully expressed, Kim! -- and I have to agree. I am embracing Myquillyn's (The Nester's) sentiment that it doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful! Yes! Be in the moment. These moments are fleeting.

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    1. Exactly Sally and I want to be present for these moments! Thanks for the comment!

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  12. I tried so hard to keep everything neat and clean when the kids were growing up, but so many hours were spent away from home. We are empty nesters, but the puppy leaves her toys out and I have to go through the house each night before I go to bed to put things back in order to start the day.

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    1. Haha! Oh boy, always someone to pick up after! At least she's cute!

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  13. I love this - such a great post! My boys will be out of the house in a few years too, and I feel the same way you do about spending those precious moments together. By the way, your kitchen is gorgeous, clean or not :)

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    1. Thank you, Lana! I am letting go of the need for everything to be super clean, so I can hold on to them a little tighter!

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  14. Beautiful post! Perfectly reasoned and executed. Love this: "casually "overhear" those valuable conversations with peers." That was my favorite part of driving my kids around to. My youngest (of 5) starts driver's ed tomorrow morning. My days of driving her and her friends around are almost over. I'll miss that.

    Happy Sharefest, a day late!

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    1. It goes by so quickly, doesn't it? The dishes can wait! :)

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  15. Very well said, Kim! I love listening to the kids' conversations with friends--you learn so much that way! :)

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    1. You do learn a lot that way, Dee! It still amazes me, what come out of their mouths with me, right there, in the front seat! ;)

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  16. So much wisdom in this post, Kim. I'm impressed that you "got it" so young. It took me much longer. :)

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    1. I'm still "getting it", Nancy! Sitting with a mess is not in my nature... but cuddly children make a it little easier! ;)

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  17. Hi, I'm visiting from A Stroll Through Life's Inspire Me Tuesday. This was a wonderful post to read, it spoke directly to my heart! As an "almost empty nester" also, I can relate to what you are saying, priorities do shift when you get older. As a soon-to-be grandmother, I hope to relay some of this insight to my daughter-in-law in a caring and sensitive way, I see so much of me in her and wouldn't want her to get discouraged if the house is not picture perfect all of the time. For the longest time, I gave that too much importance. Thanks for the wonderful read!

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    1. It's a hard lesson to learn, Siggie and one that I was resistant to as well. My mom kept trying to tell me and I just couldn't fathom that this place I have put my heart and soul into wouldn't be the center of my existence forever...but back then the kids and my husband (the real center) were always home! THAT is what made being here and tidying so appetizing! :)

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  18. I don't think any of us have a perfect home all the time. Like you I try, but there are times when no photo for me, it would scare everyone. Thanks tons for linking to Inspire Me.

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    1. Oh Marty, I guess it happens to all of us, but it's hard for me to picture you house in a scary state! ;)

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  19. Boy, it is so hard to keep the house perfect when you have a creative mind racing you here and there!!! :)
    “hugs” Crystelle
    Crystelle Boutique

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    1. That is true Crystelle! I like your take on it! :)

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  20. Absolutely agree! Even being retired and empty-nesters, our home can still get pretty messy. I am married to the greatest guy who is so very good to me, but he is VERY messy. When those little piles of stuff here and there start to bother me, I remind myself how much I would miss those little piles of stuff if he were not here. I also find that if I have made our home too clean and perfect prior to our children and grandchildren coming for a visit, it really makes the little ones' parents feel ill-at-ease. They don't say anything, but I can tell; so I stopped doing that. They are grateful to see some dust on the tables and newspapers here and there. I'm more relaxed, too!

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    1. Hi Carol, I totally get it. People come here and don't know where to sit in fear of wrinkling something. Now I clean up AFTER the guests come instead! ;)

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  21. That bedroom just is gorgeous! I must admit that I am working on a balance between a clean house and other priorities. When my house is clean, I feel more able to think and focus, but it seems like groundhog's day keeping it clean. Same thing: pick up toys, make a meal, clean dishes, pick up toys... Anyway, still seeking balance, but life is beautiful! Thanks!

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    1. Exactly Elizabeth...Groundhog's Day!! That is just how I felt, so why not take a bit of break and enjoy what I really love!

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  22. Just when I was about to get all teary you lifted us up with your "perfectly made bed"!!! LOVE IT! As I was reading this, I thought about last night while I was running around vacuuming while my two daughters (7 & 3) were eating their bedtime snack and watching a little tv. I should have been cuddling with them instead! Oh if we only had more hours in the day!!!!

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    1. I do like the comic relief, Amberly! I am glad it saved you from tears! :)

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  23. So very, very true! I found myself hanging onto the kids' last years at home by doing what they wanted too. Poof they were off to college then poof now they are out and on their own. I wouldn't trade those precious times with them for a spotless house at all. ( I like a clean house, don't get me wrong!) So enjoy! I'd say you have it right!
    Thanks for stopping by the B Farm too! :)

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    1. Thanks Cecila! It's hard to look at the mess sometimes, but I agree with you, I think I have it right! :)

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  24. Nice...I like that you don't mind keeping it real. It's good to see we all have messes from time to time that need to sit until it doesn't. You are surely making choices you won't ever regret. Thanks for sharing! Blessings, D

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  25. Thanks D! My blog is all about finding beauty in your own surroundings. Sometimes life (and kitchens!) are messy. I am glad that I can see past all of the dishes and find the beauty in family life!

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  26. Love your post and keeping it real! I think those who are not bloggers do not even think about the real life factor. Thanx for partying at THT!

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    1. I agree Pamela! If you're not a blogger, it's all real life! ;)

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  27. How refreshing! None of our homes can be perfect all the time! Thanks for your insight into this!

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    1. Thanks Susan! Certainly no perfection going on around here! ;)

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  28. Such great advice, Kim! Thank you for sharing. You are one of the fan favorites at the Sunday Showcase from the Make it Pretty Monday party at The Dedicated House. Here is the link so you can check out your feature. http://www.thededicatedhouse.com/2014/05/sunday-showcase-from-make-it-pretty_11.html Hope to see your prettiness again at the bash. Toodles, Kathryn @TheDedicatedHouse

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    1. Thanks so much, Kathryn! It's always a thrill to be featured!

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  29. No it wasn't making me nervous at all..it was real life :)

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