giving up on good

I’m linking up with Jessi for this post. She & Hayley have started a thought-provoking, soul-searching, heart-convicting series that inspires women to give up something good for something better.



I enjoy a clean house, and it’s one of my strengths. I do a pretty good job of keeping up with five kids and two dogs, as it relates to housekeeping. This reminds me of Jenna’s famous backdoor bragging on 30 Rock, but it’s true. I’m not the world’s best cook, but I can shoot an iPhone photo or entertain a surprise visitor without embarrassment more often than not.

The problem is, I let it consume me. I resist the sweet mom quotes about messy houses & happy homes. I make list upon list for everyone in the house who can walk. I snap at my family when I feel crumbs beneath my feet. I typically refuse to do anything for myself until my house is neat. It hurts me to ignore the laundry and relax on the couch. I’ve let my own meals go cold before, because I want to clean the dishes before I eat. I can’t let the kids move onto the next play area without cleaning the previous.

I know part of it has to do with control, and we can psycho-analyze me on this topic for days. But a big part of it is deeper and dirtier than that. It’s about approval. I’ve sort of made a lifestyle-choice spectacle of myself over the last several years. My marriage, my education, my career, my child-bearing, and my parenting have all raised an eyebrow at one time or another. I want family & friends to see my house and give me the “yes” nod. My home is not the biggest or the fanciest. But they can step inside and know that they don’t have to worry. I’ve got this.

Until this week.

Note from husband: do not mix Dr. Bronners with vinegar. Mirrors don’t like it.

I quit. I’m waving the white flag. Not as a martyr to a dirty home, but as a woman to a choice. My kids could care less about dirty mirrors and strewn-about puzzle pieces, and I’m taking a lesson from them. I’m giving up on good for better. I will spend less time chasing tedious tasks. I will spend more time in the Word, more time painting that dresser navy blue, more time playing intentionally with my children, more time outside… the list goes on. For example, I recently caught up on some reading (on my unmade bed) with this as my backdrop:

I still put all of this clutter away before bed, and I managed to scrub a few sinks and toilets… but that was therapeutic. And we have a lot of boys. But the rest can wait another day or two. No more staring at Chris in bewilderment, asking him how he manages to enjoy time to himself in the midst of our chaos. I’m grabbing some for myself. I’m enjoying the grace and freedom of a not-always-neat house.
I’m giving up on good.

18 thoughts on “giving up on good”

  1. [“My marriage, my education, my career, my child-bearing, and my parenting have all raised an eyebrow at one time or another. I want family & friends to see my house and give me the “yes” nod. My home is not the biggest or the fanciest. But they can step inside and know that they don’t have to worry. I’ve got this.”]

    I just want you to know I’ve literally never read a post I’ve related to more than this. I just found your blog and I’m pretty sure it’s going to become one of my everyday reads now.

  2. What a great post Rachel! I, unfortunately, have an opposite problem. I’m praying God gives you the peace to continue to relax amidst the occasional clutter.

  3. YES! This post is definitely speaking to me right now…and I only have one kid (so far)…and she’s only 1! As our family grows…it’s definitely going to take a lot of reminding for me to remember what is truly important. Getting down and dirty…and letting the clean up go by the wayside now and then. Enjoy your newfound philosophy :)

  4. Ok I am your exact opposite. I LONG for a clean house but I can’t seem to make it happen. I also long for a pretty decorated home, but I can’t get that to happen either. Now my work . . that’s another story.

  5. How your home “feels” is more important than how it looks, that’s what your kids will remember – the “feeling” of home…

    1. I know, but I also want my kids to feel comfortable in a home free of dirt and clutter… always knowing where things are, etc. Organization does wonders for kids’ anxiety issues, and we’ve seen that firsthand. Now, to find the balance!

    2. I completely agree. I identified with the you in that you sometimes let it consume you. My daughter is a natural born organizer, I never have to ask her to clean her room, she definitely gets anxious if things aren’t where they should be. Keeping house seems to take up what limited free time there is, even when you’ve got the whole team pitching in, finding balance is something we working mommas do in a lot of areas though, right? I applaud your resolution, I took time to take some photos in the garden this morning before tidying the kitchen after breakfast…
      Your children are beautiful, your home seems like a place where everyone feels at home, and I hope you find the balance you seek!

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