When I was growing up there was a book in our church library that I loved to check out. It had 365 short stories and poems, and my favorite one was Lucky Mrs. Hen (page 77). I had even copied down the end of the story on a postcard, and practically memorized it.
The story starts off with a dark rain storm. Mrs. Hen decides to clean her house, while the neighbors just stare out the window and lament the rain, having wanted to work in the garden.
But little Mrs. Hen put on her apron and cleaned her house. When every corner was spick and span, she did her baking, clucking happily to herself. Then she made doughnuts. Just as she was sprinkling them with sugar, the rain stopped and pop! out came the sun!
“Just in time,” clucked Mrs. Hen. “I’ll wash windows.” She did. And she cut her grass and planted her garden. Then, since the day was so beautiful, she packed a picnic basket.
Then I recall that she asked all of her neighbors to go on a picnic, but each one said that the bright sunshine made their homes look so dirty that they had to clean them after weeding, and they couldn’t just go gallivanting off any time they felt like it. They sounded very snippy, but she didn’t notice.
The story ends…She waved good-by, and without a care in the world she went off to have her picnic in the beautiful, sun-shiney, springtime woods.
Back then I couldn’t see that doing your work first thing instead of moping could later result in “being lucky” by freeing up your time to do what you wanted. Of course I would clean my house if it rained, I thought. I’d love to. Today I can see the wisdom more than ever. How long did I go without doing the basic morning work because, “I didn’t feel like it”?
Little girls love to “keep house.” It is naturally ingrained, unless someone important in their life diminishes its value – either an overwhelmed (or sometimes lazy) mother who hasn’t yet learned how to properly keep house, or someone who, not seeing the blessing in a wife who keeps house, demeans it. Often little girls enjoy making the beds, dusting, setting the table, etc. if they are allowed to let their imagination run while doing it, and not be micro-managed, bossed around, or have their work redone. I can remember doing these things and thinking that when I grew up I wanted to be a maid! (Hmmm, in some ways I am.) But that is the power of little girls – home-keeping is such fun that they think it will always be so.
I also remember going off to school and looking longingly back at my home in the morning sunshine. I wanted to be in the kitchen with the sunlight pouring on the counters, baking. I love sunlight shining in a mixing bowl. I even wanted to hang laundry on the line, like our neighbor. I wanted to make sure all the beds were made and the house picked up and dusted. I wanted to cook and bake, but once I arrived home from school, the sunlight had shifted out of the house to the backyard, so I typically played out there, unless it was too hot, and then I stayed inside and read. We played with friends from 3:00 to 6:00, dinner was at 6:30, and homework was begun at 7:00. How I would have loved to have been homeschooled. I would have learned to keep house while I was naturally interested in it, instead of having it demeaned while in school.
Of course, little girls aren’t dealing with bills, deep cleaning, feeding real babies on little sleep, and cooking. It gets a lot harder as we grow up. Unfortunately, many women who do not keep their own house, but hire it out, still live with the fantasy that it is easy, and therefore demeaning. When they decide to have children and come home to reality, they get the biggest shock. Keeping one’s house clean and organized, along with cooking and caring for self, husband and children, while making ends meet on one income, really is a full-time endeavor.
When I finally woke up to the fact that working for myself and my family was infinitely more pleasurable than working for others who reaped the benefits of my labor, that it is easier to cut expenses than earn income, and much more fun to stay home and do whatever I pleased whenever I wanted to, I also had to learn the hard way how to actually take care of my home, my child and my husband, and that all the excuses were gone.
Keeping house was supposed to be so easy….so why was it so hard? Reality is much more difficult than the fantasy our culture imparts. However, there is great news! Once you have decluttered your house, your life, and your thinking, once you have routines and have learned to cook nutritious food every day (I’m still working on this one), and once you know what cleaning methods work best for you and your family, life starts to really hum.
Every day taking care of your family and home becomes more enjoyable (even while learning), and you can really live in the moment and focus on the pleasures of each day. Now, when the sunlight peeps into my kitchen, my son and I have a picnic breakfast or lunch on the floor in the patch of sunlight.
You can use the dark, stormy days of raising little ones to your advantage so that pop! out on the other side comes Lucky Mrs. You. You’ll be the one driving off with your husband and children to the sun-shiney, springtime woods as your neighbors bemoan their ill fortune, jealous how you, a simple house wife, can go gallivanting off whenever you feel like it, because, “she doesn’t work, you know.”