Yesterday I agreed with the devil.
Let me explain…
When I was a little girl, I was incredibly untidy. My parents (especially my mother) despaired of my slovenly ways. My bedroom looked, at all times, as though I had been burgled. My clothes were flung into piles… dirty mixed with clean, wet towels, (I think my record was 8) wellies and high heels vying for position with makeup, school work and books. Rare sitings of the carpet happened every few months when my Mum made me purge and clean the foulness therein.
I used to wail, “I don’t know where to start!” at her as she waved her finger angrily over the mayhem. My mother’s shortly delivered, stock answer was always the same… ‘Start at the door and work round.’
The baton of tidiness in my life has been firmly gripped by my husband who hates chaos of every kind. His is an ordered brain. He sometimes comes home to find mess in every room and I can sense his equilibrium shifting as the spirit level of his patience is tested to the max. I try SO hard to make it otherwise. Honestly. But it is not natural to me. Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE living in a tidy house. I just really struggle to keep it that way. And I can’t always blame the kids. I can make a meal for eight people in eight minutes. I do so with aplomb but also a tinsy bit of mess… Cups, spoons, plates, bowls, packets just seem to…well… multiply. A tasty meal but a healthy 45 minutes of tidying and cleaning is created. And this is when I am TRYING to be tidy.
Yesterday, I had one of those days where I needed to say sorry to myself, my children or God about once every three minutes. Esther is sleeping very poorly at the moment, so I am very tired and headachey. Reason one for grumpy mummy.
The boys were having a day when they were playing for about 0.2 nanoseconds before lamping one another with a metal object. Reason number two.
Esther was having a day when she would not be put down. She cried and tossed her head back every time I did anything other than snuggle her into me. Reason three right there.
It was pouring with rain, and my boys (who are like dogs and need ‘walkies’ each day) had not had their customary outside time. Reason four.
We had new friends over (the story of my life) and I was trying hard to be all magnanimous and hostessy… but to be honest, having 6 children under 6 in your house when you feel shocking isn’t easy at the best of times. My kids were foul. Lunch was a torrid affair and the new friends made a sharp exit. Reason five.
Halfway through the afternoon, I knew I had to cancel some friends coming for dinner. I just knew I couldn’t handle cooking again, knowing the house already looked like a war zone with lunch not yet cleared away and a now splitting headache. Reason six.
I texted Jon one of those ‘Help me!’ kind of texts designed to make him realise that calling a late meeting with his team was not a wise option. I hate having to do this. Reason seven.
As I tried to load the dishwasher, whilst carrying Esther and mediating between my warring boys, I began to list in my mind why I felt so stressed. But I simply didn’t know where to start. Reason eight.
‘Father!’ I said ‘Look at my life today! It’s such a mess!’ That’s when I heard my mother’s phrase of my childhood.. ‘Start at the door and work round..’ I smiled wearily and thought hard for a while. I began to tidy from the door of the kitchen. As I did so, I wondered why this day had started off so badly. What had made me feel so unworthy, tired, belittled, and just generally unable to do things? What had been the ‘door’ of all of that?
Then I remembered. The very first thing I heard when I woke up was not the voice of God over me. But I agreed with it in my spirit. I heard (not in an outloud, shouty, Hollywood trailer way, but in my inner being) a voice just telling me I wasn’t good enough. And I had the audacity to agree.
Looking back, everything I was trying to do yesterday was a losing battle. Because deep down my spirit had already given in and given up. I went to bed last night at 8pm. Early, even for me. But I needed to think and pray and get my head to bang less hard. As I shut my eyes I said sorry to God, yet again, for handling things so poorly. I felt like I was at an AA meeting. ‘Hi my name is Ems and I am a grumpy woman.’ As I worked through the day with my Father and mentally and spiritually ‘hoovered’ it with Him, I breathed deeply. He began to restore my frazzled soul. And He told me that rather than a failure, in HIs eyes, I am a royal princess. Deep, deep sigh.
Be careful what you agree to. It will change your whole day.