Sanctuaries are a place of refuge and rest. I never in a million years dreamed that I would consider a place like my kitchen to be my sanctuary. In fact, up until about 4 days ago, I wanted to die every time there were more dishes in my sink.
You see, my perspective has been all sorts of off lately. I think it has been the whole post-partum thing. After having M, I really didn’t have any depression or anxiety. I have never been a person that struggled with anything like depression. But, since having E I have come to realize that mental health is way more complicated than I ever knew. I wouldn’t say that I have been battling depression these past 3 months. But I would say that my anxiety is much greater overall than it has ever been. I have found my joy is lacking a bit and my attitude just hasn’t been “me”. There is so much stress that comes with adding a child to the family. It has been hard to quiet my mind. When E arrived, I had a very jealous, almost two-year-old, and that has made the transition more difficult. Also, just having a two year-old makes you life feel completely out of control, right? I also made the decision to not return to my full time career, which I had a great deal of time and energy invested into. So much change at once is taxing on all parents, but especially on mamas as all the hormones rage through our brains and bodies. If you are like me, and struggling with these types of emotions or any other signs of post-partum depression/anxiety, talk to someone! You are not alone. While it isn’t normal to feel this way, it is very common. Here is a great article if you think you may be struggling with PP depression or anxiety.
Anyways, I have had a filthy attitude about housework. Which is ironic since that is what my house was too. I didn’t want to be so largely responsible for all the filthy dishes, filthy laundry and filthy surfaces. J and I had always shared these responsibilities since we both worked out of the home, and honestly, our home suffered because our time for housework was so limited. Now it’s mostly on me. It makes sense since I’m here 24/7. But, I was refusing to like it or enjoy it at all, and having it undone was making me incredibly anxious. Every mess was met with a sigh. I was viewing it all as a burden.
It’s crazy how simply changing the way you look at something can completely change how you feel about it. It dawned on me 4 days ago that I needed a new perspective. I was looking at Grove Collaborative online and admiring the Mrs Meyers soaps, and pretty brushes and sponges. Suddenly it hit me. Chores can be beautiful. AND….my biggest epiphany: when I am washing the dishes, no one is bothering me. After dinner the boys watch Wheel of Fortune and stay in the living room. All day I crave time to finish a thought; to be alone and untouched for just a moment. It hit me that when I wash dishes after dinner, I am completely alone. So I tossed all my old dingy brushes and soap bottles, and I went to Target. I bought amazing soap, pretty towels, a new soap dispenser and a fancy little stone to set my brushes and sponges on. I cleaned my window sill above the sink and added our newest family picture and my favorite antique silver and glass dish that was my Grandmothers. I had some floating candles leftover from Christmas, so I tossed one in my favorite dish with some water and lit it. Oh my…I created a sanctuary. A place where I can think, breathe, relax, and worship. I can seek God while I scrub, or just stare at my pretty things and take in the fresh basil dish soap smell. My family picture is there to remind me of the reason I work hard-to keep my beautiful family happy and healthy.
What is even better, is that my anxiety has decreased significantly. I don’t sweat the growing pile of dishes all day. I just think about how I get to wash them after dinner. The feelings of resentment that my dear hubs won’t wash them, are gone. It’s beautiful. I think I would slap his hand and tell him to shoo if he tried to do my dishes today.
This realization has made me stop and think about all of the other things I have been viewing wrong to make myself miserable. I read this article the other day. It made me really stop and think about why I get so annoyed with cleaning up after my house full of gentlemen. It’s perspective. I have to choose joy, or there will be no joy in my life. Without making the choice for joy and beauty, there will always be frustration and discourse. And it is hard. We as mamas must have grace with ourselves because we will fail to choose joy in all things. I believe however, that with this deeper understanding, I can choose joy far more often.
I hope this encourages you to choose joy and to surround yourself with beautiful things to make you life simpler and more fulfilling.