Well, Jenny’s room is ready, and Molly says it passes quality control.
The rest of the family also have a place to sleep. Now I just have to clean the floors for Finn and deal with all the churchy bits (booklets, sermon; messy sacristy which may get ignored again).
The experience of preparing for this visit had taught me a lot about the balance of my life. I began cleaning on Monday so that I could get it over with and get on with the rest of the week. I seem to have been cleaning ever since. I have occasionally thought about feeling guilty for how little normal work I’ve done this week, but each time I did, I remembered that the reason my house takes a whole week to clean is because there are so many days where I let domestic tasks fall by the way side so that I can tend to other things.
But clearly, the fact that my house takes a week to clean means my life is off balance. I’m not talking about polishing silver, here. I’m talking basic cleaning, and things like putting up curtains after only two years of living here (and even then, it was done with safety pins pending a trip to Glasgow for the right sort of curtain rail.)
I’ve never been terribly good at ‘normal life’. Which is a shame, because I think that one of the things the church has to offer our overworked, under-focused society is a model of life that is worth living. Christianity offers a vision of balance: we need both Mary and Martha; compassion and challenge; celebrations and quiet places to pray. We also claim to believe in sabbath rest. Not that we do it very much…
As I walked round Tescos last night (wondering: ‘what time is the last ferry??’) I was very aware of how many people routinely do their week’s shopping at 8.45 pm. And all the more aware of how many of those people were small enough that they couldn’t see over the top of the trolley. I’ve blogged about this before, but little kids really shouldn’t have to stay up late to go shopping.
But what options do their mothers have?
I wonder if the church could just say no to it all — to the perceived needs and patterns that throw us all off balance. I wonder if we could be brave enough to find another way. Protect and defend at least two evenings a week and a full day at weekends to do simple, holy things: spend time with friends and family, prepare and share a meal, read a book, go for a walk, pray.
And then, if we could do that, could we give up an evening to enable someone else to have time off? Could those of us without families find a young working mother and say, ‘you stay home tonight. Play with the kids. Give me your shopping list, and I’ll come back once they’ve gone to sleep.’
It seems it should be possible.
And yet it so often proves impossible. Even as I write, I know that I still have a couple of hours of work to do before bed, and that some things that should be done will not get done. Time to read Benedict again. Though in fact, remembering to apply it would probably be more useful.