A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Priorities, Priorities

Posted on: January 16, 2014

I hate the way dirt gets under my nails when I garden, even though I wear gloves. I can’t stand seeing backpacks and other school stuff dropped in the hall. And I constantly struggle to keep flat surfaces clear.

I’m a neat freak, and I have been for as long as I can remember. I don’t come by this strangely; my father can’t stand messes either, and on more than one occasion when I was growing up, newspapers we weren’t finished reading and the odd bank statement disappeared. Mom and I suspected these papers were helped into the wood box because they’d been sitting on the table too long for Dad’s liking.

dusty TV

My love of dusting shines through…

The truth is that I don’t like cleaning. But I like a clean house more than I dislike cleaning. Except for dusting, as this photo (taken this morning) bears witness.

This week has been packed with meetings, appointments, errands and lessons. Despite fitting these in and mostly keeping up with everyday chores, I still feel guilty about the dusting.

Today I found myself wondering whether we put too much on ourselves—whether our expectations and standards are too high. So I decided to see what the Catechism had to say about housework and chores.

Sections 2201 to 2233 say a great deal about the relationships within the family and between the family and society and about the duties of parents and children, such as the following:

  • the need for spouses to cooperate in raising their children;
  • the need for parents to educate their children in the faith and teach them responsibility; and
  • the need for children to respect and obey their parents and to care for them when they are old.

In s. 2223, we read that “Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children. They bear witness to this responsibility first by creating a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity and disinterested service are the rule.” And in s. 2228, we see that “Parents’ respect and affection are expressed by the care and attention they devote to bringing up their young children and providing for their physical and spiritual needs.”

We know that we must provide a safe, stable, loving home for our children and meet their physical and spiritual needs. That we need to teach them to be responsible and help others within the family and beyond. But it doesn’t follow that our houses need to be spotless all the time. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that the dishes can wait but time spent being active as a family, playing video or board games with our children, or sharing the highlights of the day over dinner can’t.

As my mother has told me many times, the laundry or vacuuming will still be there tomorrow. We need to remember that time with our family may not be.


Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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