Just call me Corrie ten Boom; plus more blabbering about my house and soul, etc.

And another reason I’m grateful for the snow:  it gives me an excuse to resurrect this post from my old blog.

Jen Fulwiler just celebrated her 35th birthday, and asked people under and above the age of 35 how they feel about this time in their life.  As someone who just turned 37, I can sum up this time in my life by what’s happening today: I’m old and mature and responsible enough to be expecting an assessor from the bank to come over in a few hours to look over the house in preparation for our refinance, which should save us a few hundred dollars on our monthly mortgage payment.

But I’m also tired and cynical and lazy enough to have put very little effort into cleaning said house, even though I know it will cause me considerable embarrassment when the assessor comes over.  Unlike the party guests we recently hosted, he will be (DOOM!  DOOM!) Allowed To Go Upstairs.

I tried to kid myself for a while that the house is simply charmingly cluttered, filled with the sweet, if somewhat chaotic, hallmarks of an enviably happy and bustling family.  I even clung to this fantasy while (not even lying, here) wiping ketchup off the bathroom mirror this morning.  Wiping, not scrubbing — which means it was fairly fresh.  Which means that someone was . . . using ketchup in the middle of the night, in the bathroom?  I don’t want to know.

But when I went to wake up the kids, I had to face the hard fact that — well, all moms say, “It looks like a hurricane hit here!”  Well, my house really looks like a real hurricane really hit, and hit, and hit.  It looks like there should be burnt-out refrigerators scattered here and there.  It looks like there should be people standing on the roof, shooting at helicopters.  Worst of all, there are actual high water marks in one room, even though we have never been flooded.  At least, I think it was water.  Uh.

A few years ago, I would have broken my back to have the place spic and span.  But a few years ago, we couldn’t even have considered owning a house, much less refinancing one.  A few years ago, we would have had more free time to clean, because my husband was working one job, not two, and I wasn’t working at all.  Our kids would  have been home to help clean, because they weren’t going to art classes or field trips or planning sleepovers with their friends, because we didn’t have any friends, because we never left the apartment.  And our credit was shot because we did things like buying things and then not, you know, paying for them.   And I would have done all the cleaning myself, and been furious about it, because my husband and I were not in the habit of communicating with each other, or helping each other, or working together.  Today, the kitchen is kind of grimy, but there are fresh flowers on the counter.  My husband brought them home for me the other day, because he thought I could use some flowers.

So, at age 37, have I broken even in the ledgers of personal responsibility?  Have I really made any progress, or have I only become more adept at making plausible excuses for my failings?  Is today a cause for pride, or a prime opportunity to do an assessment of my own soul, seeing as I’ve repaired my own spiritual credit to the degree that I probably qualify to refinance my own time, and could be saving myself years off purgatory by just getting off my behind and cleaning the bathroom for once?  What if I got a sheriff who so offends the people of Rock Ridge that his very appearance would drive them out of town? Wherever will I find such a man?  Why am I asking you?

Well, happy birthday, Jen!  DOOM!  DOOM!

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29 comments

  1. Eep, I just discovered that I already reprinted the “Corrie ten Boom” post last year, around this time! Sorry, everybody! It wasn’t even that great. I guess I just run out of ideas in the middle of January every year.

  2. No, it’s great, Simcha. I love how you evaluate quality of life. Is it really how clean our house is, or it is the relationships in our life? I’m envious of your flowers. A long time ago I made the mistake of declaring that cut flowers were “depressing” because they die, and I’d rather have books or a live plant, and well, I’ve never gotten flowers in 12 years of marriage. After we had our last baby, a sweet old lady at church pressed 20 bucks into my husband’s hand and told him to “go buy your wife some flowers! She gave you FOUR BOYS!”

    I’m still waiting for those flowers. I mean, I’ve gotten other cool things, but I’ve never had that experience of one’s husband coming home bearing a bunch of flowers “just because,” Oh well. He takes the baby in the early morning and he’s easy on the eyes and good with the kids, we can’t have it all!

    • Hey Sam, I sort of wish that when the wolves who raised us were allegedly doing their job, they had mentioned that being too cool for flowers when you’re still be actively courted is not going to be how you are when you’re in a stable marriage where the romantic gestures are naturally more spaced out. I used to feel that I didn’t want flowers, and then even went so far to tell my husband that I had changed my mind, he should get them, and….hmmm….a few times. He bought flowers once when we were newlyweds because he said something so mean I wasn’t sure if I was going to let him come back into the apartment. Another time we had a long talk about how far flowers would go in making me think he was listening to my expressed needs for forthright affection, so he brought me flowers the next day, and then never again. I’ve decided to count the poinsettia he bought for the house a week after my last baby was born. 🙂

      He’s transferring jobs soon, to something higher paying, and I think I’m just going to buy myself those flowers when I don’t feel so miserly!

  3. I am 40, and waited to have my children until 32. Had the last one at 37, and although they are the greatest joy of my life, the greatest regret I have is waiting. I will probably never be a grandmother the way things are going, and already I cannot believe how much older I am than so many of the moms in my area. Sometimes I am mistaken for a grandmother.

    We are financially secure, but I couldn’t care less. Liberalism is a terrible lie that robs you of your intelligence when you are young. The tragedy of it all is that I am married to my college love and we could have a 19 year old by now. We were wild and living a totally hedonistic lifestyle that did not seem hedonistic to us because we were comparing it to all of our peers who were even more hedonistic.

    At 23 I wanted to get married and would have welcomed a child, but fear, economic drive, ambition, stupid liberal ideology about the population of the world, sexual promiscuity and terror of becoming irrelevant in the work world stopped me. I look at the Jennifer Anistons of the world and feel very very sorry for them and very angry at the baby boom generation that affirmed my terrible lifestyle. But of course, the Christianity I rejected as false from my youth has turned out to be true. How lucky you are Simcha and Jen.

    • Mary, don’t feel bad. A ton of people I know did have kids till their mid to late 30’s. I had mine in my early 30’s too. I think maybe it depends where you live, but no one around me ever would mistake a 40 year old with a baby for a grandmother! You’re not that old, sista! And being financially secure is a terrific thing especially now with this economy – it’s fantastic to have a paycheck that allows for less angst about the important things: shelter, transportation, food, health, and the fun things like being able to sign the kids up for sports, swim lessons etc. Not to mention being able to have a little left for yourself!
      Let go of the bitterness about the “stupid liberal ideology”. It sounds like you had fun, made some money, and got ahead. Remember the good stuff and what it provided! If that life isn’t for you anymore, then no worries, let it lie. You seem to have a guy, some cute kids, and security. That ain’t bad. Look forward, always forward, never back.
      Peace and love to you!

      • Thanks for your kind words Girl and SamCarter. It weighs terribly on me right now. Unfortunately, I did lots of terrible things before I had children and wasted my time. I was rude to my parents and to my friends who started earlier. I was totally selfish and misguided. But…you are correct that we must look forward not backwards. I pray for this to be easier on me.

      • O my dear,
        pls stop whining. All your sins (although it seems to me that you see eyerything that happened these years as sin, and that couldn’t be true) are forgiven. All that crying over past is stopping you to do what you can do NOW.
        You have faith, family and financial security. Do you know how lucky you are? How extremely rare is to have it all?
        I know a bunch of women who lived saintly lives from their childhood and fervently wanted their own family. It never happened. And they walked through life without any love or support. Some of them were very poor, so imagine what kind of life it was. Would you rather be in their shoes?

    • Mary, don’t feel badly. Whenever children arrive, they are a blessing. I had my first when i was 27, then out of stupid fear (horrible childbirth experience) had a long gap between #1 and #2. We just had our fourth, and I’m 38. I haven’t been mistaken for a grandmother (yet), but I won’t mind if I am. My mother in law had her last baby when she was 39.

      God has been gracious to you, it sounds, in blessing you with children. Maybe you will be a grandmother, maybe not. There are no guarantees in life!

  4. I am reading a book about adults with ADD (which is mostly stupid, but a fun read) and he describes the living space of one man as looking like ” a bag lady’s possessions exploded everywhere.” I stopped reading, looked around my room, and muttered, “check.”

    More disturbing, later in the book he has a chart comparing ADD with another mental disorder which I believe my husband has, and it was, “check, check, check, check….” Is there any hope for us? For the children?

    We almost never have, “go upstairs” company. Last year my husband had a priest-friend over, and to my utter humiliation he offered to bring the guy up to his third floor office. There was an awkward moment in which I forced a smile and hissed through clearly clenched teeth, “that’s………fine…….It’s……a……bit…….messy.” I think my eyes may have shot out laser beams.

    So, they walked up the first flight of stairs and I suddenly heard tons of shouting. Our priest friend was yelling, “OH MY! WHAT HAPPENED UP HERE? WAS THERE A HURRICANE? DID YOU GROW UP IN A BARN? HOW CAN YOU LIVE LIKE THIS?” Then he and my husband burst out laughing.

    Needless to say, he is now my favorite priest of all times.

  5. OK, OK, fresh ketchup on the mirror. That’s pretty good. I’ll grant you. But have you ever swept the floor and found a chicken drumstick, half-eaten, from a meal that occurred more than 12 hours earlier? Or plunged a half-clogged toilet, which finally flushed, only to watch a pair of underwear (which had been shoved into the hole of the plunger) go right down before you could do anything but yelp?

    I mean, not to brag, or anything.

    • Once, when we were renting, my dear sweet firstborn (who was about two or three at the time) got up from his nap early and decided to color his carpet blue. I came in to get him, to find him sitting on a freshly crayoned (formerly beige) carpet. I asked him what on earth he was doing, and he said cheerfully, “I made my carpet blue!” (He had been asking for a blue room, and we kept telling him we couldn’t paint, because of renting.)

      Thankfully it came out. But. I will never forget how crestfallen he looked when I explained that we do NOT crayon our carpets.

      • Sibyl, I don’t know who you think you’re dealing with here. I have indeed found a half-eaten chicken bone from a meal from more than 12 hours ago. It was in the living room. This morning.

        The underwear is impressive, though.

    • sibyl, my husband and I have pulled up our toilet three times in six years to get out impossibly stuck things. We were finally thwarted last year and had a backup so bad we had to call somebody. When the plumber came and put a camera in he diagnosed: A baseball.

      When we finally got it pulled out the plumber put the camera back in to check and said, “Um, it’s not clear yet.” He pulled out… another baseball.

  6. Again Simcha, you hit a nerve. Your honesty is so refreshing. When I was in my early thirties, we moved to one of the priciest places on the planet, (had to) to join my brother-in-law’s dot-com start-up. We crammed our family of seven into tiny houses we could afford to rent. The “start-up” defied belief. ( I could never forget how our biggest competitor offered to buy us out the day before 9-11. The competitor was called “Cantor Fitzgerald”– top floors of the twin towers) To cut to the chase, my brother-in-law forced the sale of the company after his board of directors fired him as CEO. ( He had to hire his own replacement, who was a president of B of A .) So my brother-in-law,( who I had known since I was seventeen and btw, left his nice wife and two kids for my husband’s frisky sister), went from being a low paid stockbroker, who happened to meet a whiz programmer on the ferry to work– ended up selling his company for almost half a billion dollars–I think it was fortune magazine that named him one of the “top young entrepreneurs of the year”. What was amazing is how he managed to screw his top “angel investor” out of his agreed on share, by forming a parallel company. What did OUR stocks, when all was said and done amount to? You would laugh. What did the gov’t take? Half. Where did the money go? Our house, cause we couldn’t afford the payments. (We stayed on with the new company until they canned most of the original people) Our home lost 40% of its value in the downturn…. Now, my brother-in-law owns homes all over the world– on the beach, one near SF, the other in Majorca, two places in France, one in Barcelona, and one in Buenos Aires . Oh yes, and his permanent place in Ross — We lost our modest home. “My” house is uncluttered because most of our worldly belongings have been in storage for over a year. (Don’t even miss that stuff). But MOST importantly, the whole thing–12 hour days for well over a decade–drove my husband to his knees. My sister in law lives with an air-tight prenump, and though her kids go to the ritziest schools, and they travel a lot,he is always threatening to divorce her. She never smiles. There is no cross on the wall in their home…
    Please remember that refis are really tough now. I *do* love how you are dealing with it..:) You hit the lottery with Benny!

  7. Anna lisa, that’s one of the best stories ever. I don’t mean that in a best = good or funny but seriously mind-blowing. I mean, THAT’S a STORY; you’ve lived a story that few can top and I tip my hat AND pray for you! It’s so impressive that you’ve come out of it basically whole. And somehow, it’s not over yet.

    You should blog it, in installments.

  8. @fascinated,* **Thank you*** for the prayers, my husband had a really great job interview yesterday. I am actually calmer than I’ve been in years too. There’s a lot of peace when you have already lost what you were worried about keeping! (Does that make sense?) Maybe one of these days I’ll write it all down–at least so my kids can understand what that “slow motion bomb” was all about!
    I love how Simcha can just put it all out there and laugh. If I were to write down some of what needed to be said, I’d feel like I strung a dirty laundry line across town.

    @ all Moms with gross food objects you’ve found in the house–I’m STILL too embarrassed to fess up to a couple. HINT: one said object was already an “ecosystem”somehow hidden in the boys’ bookcase–I wish it had only been 12 hours.

    • I just found an ecosystem in our van– in a storage compartment in the back where the kids are and I never go. My 6 year old left something in there. When?

      Ok. I will admit I didn’t just find it. I found out about it weeks ago and still haven’t had the heart to clean it out.

      • 🙂 I feel your pain…If someone happens to get IN my car with the uncleaned primordial sludge, I look at them seriously, and say: “It’s an experiment. We’re trying to create life.”

  9. Go ahead and whine about being so so young. I am 48. It gets better. You make it what you eat every day.

    Do you want to hear how moi and mon amis (*friends) stay so YOUNG??? Keep your skin moisture and eat right and eat your FRESH veggies EVERY DAY. AND drink water, not soda. Stay away from fried food.

    Stay away from rushed prayer and formula living. Be yourself. Try not to be a people pleaser. Too many Catholics do that.

    Oh and have Fun with God TRiune and let Him have fun with you. Don’t forget that one.

  10. Oh, and one more little thing, for anyone “behind” in their payments, and feeling bad–Don’t feel bad. (this is ironic) Chase, Citigroup, B of A, Wells Fargo, Paine Weber, etc. etc. Think most of *Wall Street*–My husband handled the contracts for a good chunk of their bond trading, (which used the program my b-in-law’s company made for them, and they put their “shingle” on)–Plenty of them weren’t *punctual* in their payments either!(Not by far) Lol. (sounds like a conspiracy theory but all to true!) And you weren’t bailed out by the Federal Gov’t either. So do your best,breath, and go on living.

  11. Well, I’m at that lovely stage where my kids know they need to be hygienic, but fail miserably at execution. Sometimes I feel like I just need to label everything in the bathroom as “For your butt.” and “Not for your butt.” I’d use a more refined word, but their reading level isn’t quite there yet.

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