Clutter and Keys – How My Mother Taught Me to Live a Satisfying Life

Happy Mother's Day

May 6, 2011 by

Much to my dismay, I had to cancel the housecleaning service this week.

I’ve outsourced my housecleaning as long as I can remember and I’m annoyed that I can’t reconcile paying for cleaning now that I’ve willfully quit my job.  My housemate finds this amusing.

“I just clean a little every day,” she says.  “Just as my mother taught me.”

My mother probably tried to teach me the same thing, but in my contrary way I cultivated a trait usually ascribed to men.  I don’t see dirt.  More accurately, I don’t see clutter.  Dirt can be used to grow things and captures my interest.  Clutter, on the other hand, is simply my organizational system.

It seems natural to me to overlook the clutter because of its low priority.  My mother did many things while I was growing up, including cleaning, but I could only absorb so many of them.  I remember much better the hours she put in studying for her master’s degree, sitting at the paper-smothered kitchen table, tossing intellectual ideas around with my father.  Years later, I did just the same; studying for my own master’s degree at my own kitchen table, discussing ideas with my own husband.  We’ve tested it twice.  The method works.

Her kitchen table also hosted many a late-night discussion.  Despite our family tendency toward being morning people, my mother would stay awake until my brother and I arrived home from our weekend high school escapades.  Rather than shuffle us all off to bed, she would turn the kitchen into a candlelit teahouse and tease out our thoughts and ideas, subtly teaching us the art of conversation and growing us into socially adept adults.

My mother never makes things easy on herself.  She found herself a job as a teacher during those years as well; a job she loved and the job that inspired her to earn that master’s degree.  Later, I witnessed her use of this same energy to explore the world, near and far.  She developed an interest in popular music and we all still laugh about how I find her favorite bands too harsh.  To this day, she travels the globe whenever she can, with the same passion that has driven her to go back to school and study the world of art.

The events of my life have been different than my mother’s and I’ve made different choices.  You might not notice the similarities at first glance, but her example has taught me how to live by my values.  She taught me how to take responsibility for making my life into something satisfying.  I can’t think of a greater gift a parent can give a child.

My mother’s example gave me the keys to my own destiny.

Apparently, my destiny didn’t include a lot of housecleaning. And that’s just fine with me.


About the Author

Bonnie Simon Has Written 35 Articles For Us!

I am an urban homesteader in Colorado Springs, CO where I raise chickens, make my own yogurt and am learning to grow some food, all within sight of downtown in a 1950s era neighborhood. I am starting a small business designed to fill the gap between local farms and local dinner tables.
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  1. Loved this, “My mother’s example gave me the keys to my own destiny” and equally the fact that it didn’t include a lot of housecleaning. I’m with you on that one for sure!

  2. Gail Simon

    I love the image of the kitchen table. For our family, that’s one of the most important places in our home. However, the most important image, and the one you can’t see in a photograph, is all the love shared around that table. It’s those feelings that keep us connected over time and space, and give us confidence to follow our own dreams.

  3. I’m totally with you on the housecleaning, Bonnie! I never learned it either, and I swear by the value of a good housecleaning service! – SerenaK

  4. Bonnie – Thank you for inviting us into your virtual “candlelit teahouse” to hear the stories of your mom. With or without (I’m in the without camp) a focus on cleaning, it’s not difficult to see where you got your adventurous spirit!

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