Doing vs. Accomplishing

It’s frustrating when you’re always doing and never accomplishing.

If you clean up the living room, and it’s clean, is that an accomplishment? I thought so too. But then what happens when certain parties who shall remain nameless take off the couch cushions and spill legos all over the floor, as well as the contents of your measuring cup drawer? Is it still accomplished? Say this occurs 18 times during the day. Have you had a day full of accomplishment or a day full of doing? What if, by the time you go to bed, you are just so tired of cleaning the living room floor that you leave it, cushions, legos and all? To me, I got nothing accomplished.

I guess what I mean by “accomplished” is “something to show for it.” You do laundry, and for one beautiful minute, clothes are clean and put away. That is accomplishment. The something to show for it is really something that’s not there, though – the pile of dirty laundry that used to be. I love sewing because when I finish sewing something, it’s done, I can look at it, and it’s pretty, and it can’t be undone (at least not without a lot of hard work – trust me, I know, I rip out seams constantly). Maybe that is what I find so fulfilling about it.

When I make my bed, in contrast, instead of being an indication that things are orderly and my day will run smoothly, it acts as an invitation for the kids to jump on it, get under the straightened covers, and make piles with the pillows. Why does a clean surface call out for clutter? “Hey, I’m straight and empty, put something on me quick!” It’s like we think the poor counters are naked and need to be clothed, quickly, without delay. “Please don’t leave me in this embarrassing state! Dress me quick!” Yeah maybe that’s it.

On the other hand, the theory of “nature abhors nakedness” seems to be lost on the human offspring.  My kids’ bodies seem to like being naked. You put clothes on them and 5 minutes later they are running around in just their diapers again. Or, they might be wearing one of my sweaters. As a hat, of course. So even getting the kids dressed isn’t really an “accomplishment.” Doesn’t even last the day. Don’t even get me started on getting them clean. Invariably after bathing them, they eat something with tomato sauce, or dump a bowl of oatmeal onto their heads, or if I succeed in keeping them away from food, find my Carmex or Vaseline and go to town with their newfound hair gel.

The process of a housewife is sort of like this in general, but I was already resigned to the fact that dishes needed to be cleaned after every meal, and beds made every morning, and that you really can’t just make up your bed 4 times in a day and then not do it for the next 3 days. I used to wish for that kind of stuff, but I guess it’s in the same category as “Give us this day our daily bread.” We can’t really eat enough on Sundays to last the rest of the week (though to be sure, during Lent, I do try). No, I can deal with the “daily chores” concept.

I just don’t understand why it’s been upgraded to an “every-five-minutes chores” concept. That one just needs more getting used to.

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