I confess that I am resonating with Jen Lemen tonight. Not in that I avoid upper case letters, although there are times when I feel like throwing conventions to the wind and go into the Greek/Hebrew mode and omit all punctuation entirely. My connection to Soul Sister #2 isn’t about some stream of consciousness love fest on my children (frankly, there have been moments recently when all I want to do is scream). No, I am feeling like Jen tonight because the staff Christmas party is this Friday here at the parsonage, and we are frantically cleaning in preparation for the forty persons to come.
It’s not that Kay and I mind cleaning (although, if we are honest we have to say that housework is generally not on our top ten list of preferred activities). The problem lies in our lifestyle, our schedule, our kids. We are a clergy couple. Kay has her church, and I have mine. Ours is a tag team parenting existence, since it seems like one or the other of us is working some night during the week. Saturdays would be a logical time to clean, except that more often than not some church thing is happenings, or one of the kids has a birthday party, or we need to go and visit family, or we are simply too tired from a week of helping other folks with their problems so we lay around in bed and moan while the girls feed their television addiction with a diet of Saturday morning pablum.
We like events like this one on Friday, because they force us to clean. Yet, it’s one think to clean for a small dinner party. It’s another entirely when your entire Staff Parish Relations Committee from the church is coming too! You see, this is their house, not ours. It’s a great house. It’s more house than we will ever hope to buy on our own. But the question always lingers in my mind: “Will they totally turn me off as their pastor when they see what a slob I am?” It’s not anything that comes from them — they know our circumstances. It’s my own guilt, uncertainty, and paranoia.
Tonight I attacked the kitchen. This was not simply doing the dishes and cleaning the counters. It was time for a deep cleaning, and I spent all night scrubbing and wiping and making sure that the dust no longer sat in piles on the backsplashes. I even took some time to rearrange a couple of the cabinets, which I’ve been meaning to do for the past year and a half. Now, I’m spent — too tired to move into bed, but too wired to fall asleep in the chair.
Being Jen Lemen means that I carry around guilt over the state of our house, while recognizing that there are other priorities too. It lets me understand that that desire to make sure that the underside of the stove is clean comes out of a desire to offer hospitality with all the bells and whistles. Jen’s attitude about these things gets me through.
Now if I could only write as well as she does….