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31 Days To Clean Homemaking Challenge: Day 3 Extended

Okay, so if you've been reading my blog for more than a couple of weeks, you know that I had a previous Day 3 post that was literally eaten by Blogger along with it's comments. It may sound stupid and utterly ridiculous, but I didn't save any posts written anywhere else. Yeah, I'm that bright ;)
So, while this isn't the same post, this is sort of an extension of that post. The Mary Challenge for Day 3 was to: "Ask your family what makes them feel the most loved when it comes to you caring for your home-ask them to be specific so that you can begin (or continue) to give life to your domain."
And since I am by far, inferior to my own mother's abilities and knowledge in this (or any area for that matter), I decided to ask her what she did or does to make home a place full of life for my father. (I know what she did that made me feel that way when I lived at home).
First, you need to know that I have three brothers, two older and one younger. But just before I was born my father graduated from college and started the job he would have until he retired three years ago for medical reasons. This particular job required him to travel a lot. He was literally gone for at least five days each week and sometimes for longer at a time. So, basically during the years where all four of us were the youngest and my mother was a stay-at-home mom, she was also almost living as a single parent for the greater part of each week. (Yes, I am forever grateful to God for such a mother!)
When I asked her about what she did for him to show her love and respect for him in keeping the home, she came to a quick answer. She said, I made sure that when he came home everything was clean and in its place, so that he could just enjoy being home with us. And then she added that even if it was a last minute dash to do so, that was her goal each week.
I remember many a Friday evening where we were all enlisted for immediate and uninterrupted cleaning sessions. No, we weren't forcibly made to, and we did have fun with it a lot. But my mom always stressed why we were doing this, that we love daddy and want to make our home a beautiful and clean, orderly place, so he can relax and we can all just enjoy being together. I don't remember being exceptionally upset over these cleaning days, except when it came to cleaning my own room which I always detested because it disturbed the set up scenes I had made with my toys and dolls. I remember the excitement that daddy was coming home! I was the quintessential (and still am to a great extent) daddy's girl.
The point is that my mom let us be a part of making our home a place of "life", of love, and joy for my dad. I am trying to make this a practice with my own children. Some of the things she did and I am trying to do that helps are to make a big deal of daddy's homecoming. We are blessed that my husband comes home each day, but I am still trying to make it a big deal. We watch out the window to see his truck, we try (or at least Shelby does, sometimes myself and Jonah are in the middle of something that can't be interrupted) to run to the top of the stairs to meet him at the baby gate, and we do try to straighten things up and at least have dinner started or, if it's a quick and easy meal night, have it ready to start quickly (new baby and all, sometimes it helps if I have another pair of hands while I'm trying to cook supper). I also try to make a big deal of Friday's, because that usually means daddy will be home all day long for the next two days.
Something I have learned though, is that it's my attitude during the preparation for daddy's homecoming that makes the biggest difference for how they feel about welcoming him home. If mommy's had a tough day and I am grumbly and doing this with an air of frustration about me, they pick up on it, and they get the idea that daddy's homecoming is a source of frustration. That's definitely not what I want them to think or feel. It's a daily struggle to keep my temper in check and try to have true joy in me while we prepare for his coming home. I am not perfect, but God is by His grace bringing me to where I am getting much better at this.
I also learned from my parents that this homecoming preparation joy cannot all come from the mother or her efforts.
First, God has to be the instigator of it all. I and my children have to know that somehow this is connected to glorifying God and we should want to do it for that reason alone. That loving and honoring daddy are Biblical principles and commands. Prayer for our obedience in this has become a daily thing for me, and I try to pray it out loud and with our kids so they know it's a priority and that only God can make us successful in this.
Second, that this is dependent upon the dad and his actions and attitudes as well. A big part of the reason we were joyful to get ready for my dad's coming home was not simply because we hadn't seen him in a week or more, but because when my dad came home, he was really home. I mean that he spent all, literally all, of his time off with us. He did go places and do things, even with his friends, but he never went anywhere we couldn't go, or did anything we couldn't at least witness if not participate in (I wasn't much help in working on a car at 3, but I was there watching), or went with anyone we couldn't be around. Both my parents loved music and played very well, so a big thing for us was to play music together. We even had a family band up until a couple of years ago that performed all over the country. This wasn't something my parents fell into, but was intentional. My dad could've very easily went out and played music professionally with the best, but chose to teach and play with his family. I remember when he was asked why he played with "little kids" instead of "real musicians", he would often say, "I know where all of my kids are on Friday and Saturday night, do you?" I do think part of why he wanted to be with us was because of the way my mother made him feel when he came home, but he was also a father who wanted to be involved with his kids and who still loves them more than anything else in his life, the only exceptions being his love for God, my mom, and now the grandkids.
When I asked my own husband what makes a difference to him, he said it's my attitude. If I'm complaining and grumbling even if everything is spotless, he doesn't feel at home, but if my heart's attitude is one of gratitude to God and to him for everything and I am joyful in working and keeping the home, he doesn't care if everything is a mess. (Yes, I know I'm blessed to have this man!)
This wasn't in the book, but was something I knew I could do to help my husband. Where he works he wears a uniform that is kept at work and they clean them there. So, during the work week he just wears a lot of t-shirts and jeans to and from work. However, on the weekends, and definitely on Sundays, he wears more dress clothes. This means usually that theses clothes will require ironing, but because he doesn't wear these kind of clothes everyday, I don't do a lot of ironing (I realize that this comes as no surprise to those of you who have seen me in somewhat wrinkly attire). So, I was trying to think of something extra in my homemaking that I could do specifically to help my husband and show my love for him to honor him. Ironing ahead of time. That's what I came up with, because often ironing, especially right now, has become a very neglecting part of my daily routine. We've had many Sunday mornings where there is last minute ironing of clothes for us both. So, I decided that I would take a little time every few days just to iron his things. Now he has several things ready to wear hanging in the closet, and would you believe he actually noticed and has said how much it meant to him?
So, I encourage you, if you're taking this challenge or not, to go above and beyond in your efforts to keep the home, and do something unexpected to make life a little easier and more enjoyable for your family. And I would love to hear your success, failures, ideas, and struggles in this area. Please let me know I'm not the only one prone to be a slacker ;)
This is a picture of our family from 1987 when we first started to play professionally together. My younger brother and myself weren't yet playing on stage, but only singing at this point. FYI, my mom made our matching outfits and hand embroidered them. If you'll notice, she's the only one not wearing a matching top, and that's probably because she was more concerned about what we had and wore than herself. That's so mom :) Below, is a picture of us performing in Ohio in 1996, and the last picture is from our last studio album in 2006 by this time two of my brothers were married and with children and had stopped touring with us. The gentleman on the bass is a long-time family friend who toured with us for a couple of years.