Saturday, January 24, 2009

think on these things

"When Mr. and Mrs. Huleatt came, they brought-"
"Mommy," Peanut Butter demands quietly only seconds after Christopher Robin's unnecessary interruption.
I turn to him. "I'm done reading," I say. "What do you need?"
"Umm, Mommy... um... Me need fan on."
I close my eyes in frustration and impatience. "No, you do not need the fan on. That was a silly thing to stop the reading for, wasn't it?" as I put the Little House in the Big Woods book back in its place on the dresser. Christopher Robin cries pouting tears of disappointment as I close the door behind them.

I make my lunch quickly and sit down at my computer to eat and read and have a break. After a while of quiet my composure is restored, and I get up to make a cup of coffee. My thoughts begin to wander to the book I've been reading in the mornings, Laying Down Rails: a Charlotte Mason Habits Handbook. I look at the messy kitchen around me and think of how I have been trying to get in the habit of cleaning up right after lunch so that the kitchen can be clean all afternoon until supper time. The struggle is that I'm always hungry and desperate for some quiet down time after I put the kids down for their naps. I am unfortunately not blessed with the curse some women have of being unable to relax in a messy room. I can tune it all out and soar far away in whatever book I'm currently reading, so my only motivation is the desire to live well and keep good habits and have a consistently clean home so that when someone drops by I'm not embarrassed and unable to enjoy the visit. Every few months or so my grandmother drops in, and she does not catch the house at good moments. Her house is always clean and beautiful, and always an hour or two after she leaves my house is in the kind of shape I wish it had been when she dropped by. Her visits are powerful motivation to keep my house clean, but the motivation wanes after a few months of no unexpected visits, and she catches me at a bad moment again the next time. Still, these very thoughts are going through my head, along with the desire to truly form the habit of cleaning up directly after lunch, so I stick my coffee in the microwave and take a few minutes to tidy the kitchen.
And I think about how directly the kind of things I read and the thoughts I think influence my behavior each day. If I was not reading the habits handbook, I would probably not have cleaned the kitchen, and our afternoon, which begins when the kids wake up from nap time, would have started off on unstable footing. The more I live, the more I'm convinced that the little things have a powerful impact on the big things. Each afternoon I spend with my children shapes who they become, and how I treat them influences my day and theirs and the kingdom of God.

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