I've been reading Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin in bits and pieces, while I wait for Molly at gymnastics or during horseback riding lessons or last night while I waited for back to school night to start. I really enjoyed her first book, The Happiness Project, as well as her blog and the videos she posts. What she has to say makes sense to me; outer order creates inner calm, people over estimate what they can get done in a day but under estimate what they can get done in 15 minutes, and any happiness resolutions you make can only be about yourself because you can't make anyone else happy.
But you can't be happy all the time and somedays it's hard to be thankful for the things you have even though you know you should. Whether you are a stay at home mom or a mom that works outside the home, trying to keep up with everything that goes along with running a "happy home" is hard work and never ending. Yesterday, after getting the kids out the door for school one by one, I threw in a load of laundry, unloaded the dishwasher, loaded the dishwasher, cleaned off the kitchen counters, threw in a load of laundry, sat at my desk and sorted through some papers, checked my emails, went over our afternoon schedule to make sure I didn't forget anything, wrote four birthday cards...belated birthday cards...three thank you notes, went through a stack of catalogs, threw away 90 percent of them, put library books in the car to return, sorted through the mail, put my neighbor's mail in the car because the mailman keeps delivering their mail to us, threw in a load of laundry, took a shower, volunteered in Molly's class, came home and ate lunch, threw in a load of laundry, picked up Ryan and Molly from school, brought Molly back to school because she forgot her homework, did homework, got the kids ready for CCD, drove to Timmy's middle school while he was at CCD because he forgot his homework, picked up the kids from CCD, dropped Ryan and Molly at home, drove Timmy to football, went to the high school for back to school night, sat in the car and spoke to Chris who just started a new job who was sitting in gridlock traffic so would not be able to pick up Timmy from football, called my good friend and neighbor to see if she could pick up Timmy, went to back to school night, got lost a few times, came home to everyone watching Honey Boo Boo in the family room, told Molly to get her pj's on and go to bed, she said, "but I didn't have dinner," made grilled cheese, ate dinner at 9:45, cleaned the kitchen, kissed everyone good night and it will all start over again tomorrow.
It is so very hard some days to see the value of your everyday life when you do the same things over and over again. But Gretchen also says that what you do everyday is more important than what you do every once in a while.
So I dig deep and think about yesterday, and everything I did was somehow connected to my family and that has value; the laundry, the scheduling, and even this clean kitchen counter. I feel like this kitchen counter is never clean. It is a dumping ground; for mail, for school papers, for catalogs, for books. We all have that one spot in our house that never seems to stay clean. You may only see a clean counter in this picture, but I see the mail that got sorted, the catalogs that got thrown away, the kids' papers that I went through, the birthday cards that got sent, the thank you notes that got written, the library books that were returned and the mail that got delivered to its rightful owner.
Somedays, you've got to dig deep and just be grateful for a clean kitchen counter.