Our daily bread

It was almost a year ago that I sat chatting with other young(ish) parents at our Sunday school Christmas party talking about whether or not we would ever have a fourth child. We were all sharing stories relating to which number babe was the most difficult transition. Some said the first child was the hardest for them. Other people insisted it was the second, while I maintained that our third baby was the most difficult transition for us. The odd number really threw us for a loop. I confessed I had a hunch that four might actually work better for us, but reassured everyone (Patrick especially) that it wasn’t a gamble I was willing to take. I also joked that getting pregnant would almost be worth it just to cash in on the free meals our Sunday school class is famous for providing. Almost worth it. Of course the joke was on me, as it was only a few days later that I discovered we were going to be taking that gamble after all: I was pregnant with our fourth child.

Flash forward to the present. Soon after Elliott was born, the sign up sheet to bring us meals started making the rounds. I was immediately filled with gratitude, knowing how busy these other families are. When more people volunteered than there were slots to fill, my heart swelled: despite our oddities, these people seem to actually like us! And to give you an idea of how incredible these folks are, Elliott will be six weeks old tonight and we still have another meal coming. This blows me away. But while it’s a whole heck of a lot easier for me to ask for help now than it was just a few years ago, I still find that it is difficult to accept the help when it comes. Crazy Mind tries to convince me of all sorts of insanity. What if these good people think I really did get pregnant for the meals? (I warned you it was crazy.) Can I casually work it into conversation that we’ve taken a few meals to other families this year, too? What if they think we are just horrible mooches, traveling from church to church feeding off the generosity and good will of others?

And then there’s the house. We’ve never put cleaning our house at the top of our priority list and with four kids? Let’s just say our house is very comfortably lived in. Sometimes I’m fine with this when visitors come. Other times I feel an overwhelming need to apologize. The more outwardly “put together” the visitor (are they actually dressed in clothes? is their hair brushed? are they wearing make-up? for God’s sake have they showered in the last week?) the more uncomfortable I am. Suddenly all the chaos in the house zooms into sharp focus: the bottle of Method cleaner that is sitting in the middle of the living room floor with a dirty rag draped over it; the mountain of recycling piled high on the kitchen table; the sink full of dirty dishes from breakfast and lunch; the colony of dust bunnies living under the entry way table; the books and toys strewn all over the floor that make crossing the room something like a challenge from Wipe Out!; and the family room carpet that has so many stains it looks like we’re living with several incontinent pets (or perhaps just one incontinent preschooler).

I bite down on my lip, remembering how uncomfortable I feel when other people apologize for their “messy” houses. For one, usually their house is not nearly as messy as ours and so it seems rather silly to apologize to me. Then there is the awkwardness as I try to convince them that I really don’t care how often they vacuum the rug or scrub the toilet. This is important why? I promised myself a few years ago that I would no longer apologize for the way we live and for the most part I’ve been able to keep that promise. Patrick and I are comfortable with the level of clutter we live with (usually) and agree that there are better things to be doing with our time than maintaining an immaculate house. Not that there is anything wrong with having an immaculate house! I’m not suggesting that people should apologize for how clean their house is – though ironically that is JUST what I do on the rare occasion when our house is really clean. Wouldn’t want people thinking we live like that all the time! I actually cleaned this morning. Vacuumed, mopped, the whole nine yards. This is ironic, considering our last visitors left this morning. Normally, people clean before company comes, but damn it felt good to clean the house for me.

Hmm… I seem to have strayed a bit off topic. Back to food.

Being fed for five weeks rocked. It allowed me to spend most of my energy on the girls and on doing the small things each day that help me to stay centered. Not having to worry about meals was awesome. I felt a little like the Israelites, though instead of manna we got pasta. If any of you Life Searchers are out there (and women from Georgetown, too!), thank you for providing for us and making us feel so taken care of.

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~ by jenzai on October 6, 2008.

3 Responses to “Our daily bread”

  1. thorough housework is overrated!

  2. Speaking of faux pas, Here I am commenting on one of your posts in an attempt to reply to your comment on one of mine. I couldn’t find your email address is my defense.

    First. You are welcome for the food we brought. Or my Lovely Bride brought as she deserves the credit. The thought of you guys going from church to church in order to get free food though, is awesome.

    As for your question:
    one last question: why are there no comments on these entries?! I know it’s not because people aren’t reading them. Am I committing some terrible faux pas by posting one?

    My answer:
    No. I’m not sure why people don’t comment more? I get a few, and often get emails (vs. comments) — Maybe they are more comfortable lurking? I think some of my posts make people uncomfortable. My honesty. Then again, who knows. Thanks for your comment though. I always appreciate them.

  3. A comment on why I don’t comment here more often – I’m a bit intimidated by the thoroughness, thoughtfulness and loveliness of your posts, Jenny – and feel like such a stupidhead just saying “you go, girl!” or some such nonsense! Hmmm, anyway….you go, girl!

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