Several months ago, I wrote a post entitled What’s Your ‘One Thing’? in which I went on to explain that MY ‘one thing’ is Organization — and even more than that, it’s Home Management… or Homemaking.
Anything to do with running and managing my home (and home life) is just about tops on my list of “favorite things to do”. Whether it’s cleaning, organizing, decorating, renovating, gardening, or even more mundane tasks like meal planning, budgeting, and scheduling… those activities bring me joy and fulfillment.
I’m certainly not saying that those are the ONLY activities I do or enjoy each day, or that I’m obsessed with keeping a spotlessly clean home and a perfectly weed-free garden, planning immaculate weekly meals, or purging every teeny tiny bit of clutter the minute I see it. I’m simply trying to explain that the reason I keep my home neat and organized, the reason I meal plan and budget, and the reason I spend hours gardening and renovating is because IT’S WHAT I WANT TO DO AND WHAT I ENJOY DOING.
I’m not doing these things to impress anyone or make anyone feel worse about the state of their own home. I’m not doing these things to make myself feel better than everyone else. I’m not doing these things to make a living (although I will admit, that is a nice byproduct!) And I’m certainly not doing these things because I have nothing better to do with my time.
I thoroughly enjoy running and managing my home and my family (yes, I totally understand if you think that’s crazy)… and since I really enjoy these tasks, they are very easy for me to want to do and to make the time to do.
However, if I’m really honest, there have been plenty of times over the course of my life when I have felt embarrassed and/or ashamed of doing my ‘one thing’ well.
I can not tell you how many derogatory and sarcastic comments I’ve gotten (from others who obviously don’t share my homemaking and/or home management enthusiasm). I realize many of these comments are meant in jest, some come from simple misunderstanding, and others are just out of jealousy.
These comments truly do NOT bother me that much; however, I do think there is something to be said for the number of times we (yes, I do it too) inadvertently and/or purposely make others feel bad about themselves for doing something they love to do, just because it’s something different than what we love to do.
An example from several years ago:
Over the holiday season, I was part of a cookie exchange. This was before kids — so I had plenty of free time to bake, bake, bake! I made about 10 dozen relatively elaborate Christmas cookies and it did take me a lot of time — but I enjoyed every minute of it. I was so excited to bring my cookies to the exchange, until several women felt the need to make comments about how I clearly had way too much free time, and how I obviously didn’t have children yet, and how I was trying to “show the older ladies up”.
So, the next year, I was part of the same cookie exchange and decided to simply bake “normal” Christmas cookies as to not cause any commotion or make anyone upset (I saved the fancy ones for our family parties!) Well, wouldn’t you know, I got the third degree because I was “slacking off”, and “getting lazy”, and “finally learning what the real world was like”.
Needless to say, I did not attend that cookie exchange again 🙂
Another more recent example:
Someone who had never been to my house before stopped by just after lunch a few weeks ago — and I will admit, our house was very clean at the time. You see, we ALWAYS pick up everything before lunch, and then I clean up the kitchen while the kids are eating. So when she walked in, you can better believe I heard all about how clean and organized my house was and how she certainly wouldn’t have time to keep her house so clean because she spent all her extra time with her kids and with family (blah, blah, blah). Yes lady, I’ve heard it all before!
She had to stop back over a few days later — and it was at a different time of the day so we had plenty of toys and books sitting out as we were in the middle of playing. I thought certainly she would feel more comfortable knowing that my house does in fact get messy too — but instead, she got all sarcastic and had to loudly express how she couldn’t imagine “Andrea Dekker’s house having any amount of clutter sitting out”.
I was going to explain that toys we are currently playing with are not considered clutter in my home… but then I just figured there was nothing I could say to make her happy, so I just smiled (something I’ve gotten SO much better at since having kids!)
Obviously, in each of these situations, the people saying these ridiculous things were just acquaintances, not friends or family members — so like I mentioned above, I was in no way seriously bothered by them. However, they did help spark the idea for this post 🙂
I hope that most of us wouldn’t be so blatantly rude to people we don’t even know that well… but at the same time, if we are honest, I have a feeling we all say little things here and there that have the potential to cause others to feel ashamed of the things they enjoy doing.
A few totally random examples:
- To the Health Nut: “You know… a little processed food won’t kill your kids.”
- To the Crafter: “It must be nice to have the time to work on crafts. It’s probably because your spouse is so much more helpful than mine.”
- To the Reader: “I’m not sure how you always find time to read. I just have too many other important things to waste time with my nose in a book.”
- To the Runner: “You’re insane for waking up so early JUST to run. Why are you so worried about what you look like?”
- To the Organizer: “You know… it’s just going to get messy again. Don’t you have anything better to do?
- To the Volunteer: “I would do more volunteer work, but my family always comes first and they need me more.”
- To the Super Mom: “My kids need to learn to entertain themselves as I won’t always be there to play with them.”
- To the Homeschooler: “I would go nuts if I spent all day, every day with my kids cooped up inside.”
- To the person who enjoys getting dressed up and looking nice: “I don’t know who you are trying to impress…”
And it doesn’t even need to be THAT obvious.
What about the times when we’ve simply said something like: “It must be nice to have so much free time… ” when that person might very well be as busy (or busier) than we are, and just choosing to spend his or her time on different activities than we would.
As you can imagine, someone like me (with a love for cleaning, meal planning, budgeting, organization, etc.) hears quite a few of these types of comments on a very regular basis.
However, I know these comments are not exclusive to those of us who are clean and organized. I find that these comments often target anyone who is passionate about doing their ‘one thing’ really well.
If you’re REALLY into exercising, running marathons, eating healthy, being outside, etc… you WILL get comments.
If you’re REALLY into cooking and making everything from scratch, eating only organic unprocessed foods, restricting your intake of certain foods, and/or not letting your kids participate in school parties because of all the sugary foods… you WILL get comments.
If you are REALLY into crafts or decorating and always coming up with cute gift ideas, creative ways to decorate your home, or one-of-a-kind projects… you WILL get comments.
If you are REALLY involved in your church, school, and/or community and always looking for more ways to help out or be of service… you WILL get comments.
If you are REALLY good at coming up with fun activities and learning opportunities for your kids, taking them on field trips, and planning fun outings or projects… you WILL get comments.
I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea!
Those of us/you who are very passionate about something and work really hard towards reaching certain goals or living your lives a certain way will inevitably get somewhat rude or sarcastic comments from others with very different priorities, others who are jealous and wish they were more like you, or others who are just somewhat lazy and can’t comprehend why you would spend any amount of time and effort to go above and beyond.
However, you know and I know that when something is a passion, it doesn’t feel like any extra work or any extra hassle. We love doing those specific things… and we’re good at them too!
So what’s the point of this post?
For me, the point is two-fold.
On one hand, I’ve been trying hard not feel like I need to explain myself or excuse myself for doing MY ‘one thing’ really well. I just smile and nod when people made rude comments, or say “Thank you” when people give me a compliment.
On the other hand, I’ve been much more intentional about watching what I say to others. I KNOW I have made comments that could potentially make others feel ashamed of doing their ‘one thing’ really well… and although I’d like to think mine were all made in jest, I know they most certainly don’t always come off like that.
I guess I’d like to challenge you all to do the same.