Monday, May 7, 2012

Mental Sweeping

After putting the twins up for a nap, I got to my daily "quick cleaning" session. When you have little ones underfoot -- especially active, curious little ones of the same age -- it is hard to keep up when they are up and underfoot. So I -- like many moms of multiple little ones, I'm sure -- have a routine of trying to keep up in short sessions.

The problem with this sort of mentality is that you never get down deep. You never deep clean. You rarely clean out. You clean up. You pick up. You put away. You make it all nice on the surface as much as you possibly can. Because you don't have time to do much more than that.

Life is somewhat the same. Mental clutter is like real clutter -- you clean up the surface, move it around, try to make space to hide it away. But there are times when you have to get down and do the dirty work. You need to go through it and clean it out.

I was sweeping my floors this morning -- a task I don't mind because it's quiet and productive. Unlike vacuuming, sweeping allows me to really think. I started thinking about how, in many ways, I have felt misunderstood lately. A lot of it is personal, and although I am really a person who wears her heart on her sleeve, it is still too personal to write about online because I don't like to make people upset or unhappy. That concept may come as unusual to those who don't really know me, as I am a very vocal person about standing up for what it is right, even it if sometimes offends people.

Believing in a greater good for this world -- and I say world, which can represent my community, or motherhood, or all women, or families, or children, etc. -- can come at a price. Clearly, like many of you who likely spend time reading blogs like this one, I spend more time than I probably should online. With small children, and friends who work and have children, there is not a lot of extra time to devote to discussing issues that really matter and the internet is a quick link to the outside world and information. It is not unlike to me research things via the Internet, to click around and gauge public opinion on something, whether it is a local issue, an education issue, a pop culture issue, a social issue, etc.

I click and click and click. I click on web pages and news articles and blogs and Facebook and Twitter... I like to read what people are saying and thinking. I'm curious. Is something a trend? Is an issue going a certain way? What are people -- people I know and don't know -- thinking? It's a sort of social anthropology, a way to sort through all those things swirling around in my head and figure out solutions.

I know I am not alone in doing this, as I know many other curious people who pursue solving a problem or changing something by doing the same thing. A local politician recently posted a photo of a blighted house in my community because he is trying to take care of this unsafe eyesore. He asked what people thought about it. He needed confirmation that his belief on this situation was heading in the right direction. He was curious if he would be supported.

I often do similar things. I ask my Facebook friends how they feel about things. Sometimes they answer and share opinions. Sometimes they don't. And sometimes situations explode. You never know what way it will go until you throw out the first pitch and wait to see where the ball will go. It can be a very unpredictable situation at times, but a very real representation of opinions as well, which is not a bad thing.

I have many things swirling around in my head lately, more than usual, many ideas and opinions and worries and concerns. Mostly, this things are the result of being a mother; sometimes, they are just greater issue. What future will my children have? Are I doing a good job? Will they get a good education? Does my community need to change? Do I need fight to harder for something? Should I step back from ideas, thoughts, responsibilities, callings for change? If I don't speak up, what will happen? If I do, what will happen? And why does this really matter in the end?

This is all mental clutter. And sometimes people misunderstand me because of it. I'm not an ostrich, sticking my head in the sand. Sometimes I think I would be better off if I could manage the ostrich trick. Sometimes I think I would not.

I have always thought I have been a pretty likeable person. I don't want that to come across as a conceited statement, but I honestly never had a problem with this. However, in recent years -- mostly since I've had children and stopped working full-time -- I'm not sure if people see me that way anymore, and I don't understand it. I'm not sure why, since becoming a mom has likely been the biggest gift in my life. I'm not sure if it's because having kids has brought out the "mama bear" in me -- I will do anything to make sure the future is a good place for them. I'm not sure if it's because I need to save my patience for my kids and not for the rest of the world. I'm not sure if it's because my time is limited and I'm distracted by little ones, so therefore I don't have the time to carefully work on communicating things sometimes and I need to focus and shift priorities.

Whatever it is, it's a feeling that needs to be cleaned up and cleared out. The clutter needs to be thrown out into the mental trash bin, and new thoughts -- positive ones -- need to end up in their place. It's an ongoing process, a daily battle, a constant pursuit to slow down my mind and put blinders on to ignore the ridiculousness. But I try. It will not happen overnight, but I will keep thinking of that broom sweeping away the unnecessary things that really, truthfully, don't matter, and focusing on the things that really do.

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