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Finding peace of mind at the bottom of a bucket

February 18, 2008 - Betsy Bethel
As I headed toward my freshly detailed car this morning, I felt a calmness I haven't felt in a long time.

It's amazing what a full day at home can do for my peace of mind.

It's also amazing what I can accomplish when I don't feel entitled to be lazy.

Sunday dawned with my usual wake-up call -- "Hey Mommy! Hey Mommy!" coming from Emma's bedroom. Downstairs by 7:10 a.m., I felt motivated to whip up some homemade pancakes for us in honor of Daddy's birthday (which is today). While my husband and the dog went out, Emma and I measured and poured the flour, milk, baking powder, salt and sugar. I added the egg Emma stirred. What fun! By the time he came back, the first three pancakes were hot on Dave's plate.

The day before, I had cleaned the house in preparation for a babysitter to come over so Dave and I could go out to his favorite restaurant for his birthday. (Drover's Inn in Wellsburg still has the best wings we've ever had. It was a great night of reconnecting and reminiscing. I love birthdays.)

So on Sunday, because the regular cleaning was already done, I could concentrate on some ends that have been hanging loose for way too long. I cleaned out my briefcase, caught up some paperwork and the checkbook, practiced my bagpipe music, took down the snowman decorations and got out the spring decorations. And yes, I even detailed my car, scrubbing the seats, vacuuming the floors and Armor All-ing the interior.

After Dave went to bed last night, I made his favorite dessert for his b-day dinner tonight and straightened up the house some more, even making sure his travel mug was clean and accessible (instead of in the dishwasher or buried under pots and pans in the dish drainer).

When I went to bed, the dining room table was uncluttered, recent pictures of Emma and Christian (Dave's teenage son) were framed and displayed, the kitchen table was cleaned off, the sink was empty and Dave's birthday card was propped up by the coffee maker. While not everything was in its place by a long shot, things had a pleasant order about them.

As a bonus, my heart soared this morning when Dave mentioned how nice it was to have the house so neat and clean.

All this is why I felt so at peace this morning after I dropped Emma off at her grandma's. I felt relaxed, unburdened. My gait was a saunter; my head light (not a stretch for me, some would say!). I felt freed from the shackles of clutter. When I got in my car, I was greeted with a dust- and grime-free interior that brought a smile to my lips. Getting the checkbook in order also seriously lightened my load. Even though the balance is way below our comfort level, at least we know exactly where we stand.

Why don't I live like this 365 days a year? I can give you loads of reasons, but what it really comes down to is my feeling of entitlement to laziness. After I put Emma to bed at 8 p.m. on weekdays, all I want to do is sit in my chair and read or watch a movie. I feel like I deserve a break. On the weekends, when I'm not working or out of town, I just do as little as I can get away with.

Yes, it's good for my mental health to take it easy and to spend as much time as possible interacting with my daughter. Obviously that's not a struggle for me. What I have realized is, my mental health gets goosed when I make the effort to stay organized and in control of what I CAN control at home.

An hour a day is probably all it would take.

So, who do I talk to about lengthening the days to 25 hours?


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