January 22, 2016

Motherhood Parables: The Wood Floor

There are so many lessons to draw from simple daily experiences that I decided to start a mini-series called "Motherhood Parables." There are two in particular that I think about a lot. One experience is about our new wood floor.

The Parable of the Wood Floor
This is s story about two people and a common floor--and the transformation that resulted.

Take Me, Shelley: I grew up shopping at thrift stores, garage sales, dollar stores...you get the point. I loved getting a good deal! I loved having tons of variety and exploring various styles, etc. My Dad would go garage sale-ing all the time and come back with the results  of "a good deal" all the time. It's what we did and how we stayed within our budget and lived "simply."

Then there's Paul: We aren't opposites exactly, but he definitely didn't grew up the same way. I don't even think he stepped into a thrift store unless he needed a costume for an event. And he certainly didn't like the dollar store and would frequently ask me why I bought "cheap junk " from there that is just going to break.

Now saving money and finding deals is a good way to go. It's especially great for if we have kids and they are just going to trash their clothes anyway. Might as well not spend $20 on something that will only last a month or two before they ruin it. But, does buying junk get our children use to being ok treating things like junk? A question I've never pondered until we were surrounded by junk and by kids' careless habits. Were they just kids? Or was this a habit learned from my shopping tendencies? Hmm...question to ponder.

So...imagine us moving into a nice new home. It was a quick-move-in home--which means that the builders had picked out all the interior details and such. Which was nice for us, because we didn't know what we wanted, and were just fine with the espresso-colored cabinets and silver fixtures. However, after years of living in it, our tastes have started to change--to develop.

Last summer I kept staring at our junky linoleum  kitchen floor and cheapest possible carpet. So cheap you can practically see through it and all sorts of surprises get caught down in it. I never really minded before, because I thought, "We have kids, it's perfect for now." But as I stared and stared, I wondered, "Why? Why do we have these things I actually don't like?" The answer was easy--"That's just the way is came. It was what I was used to."

As I thought about that I imagined what type of floor I wanted to have. And I saw a beautiful wood floor. As I pictured it, I felt uplifted and refreshed. I felt more beauty and joy. So I posed the question to Paul. He thought and thought. Then we shopped around a little just to amuse ourselves. But we thought, "We don't need a new floor. That's silly. Let's make do with what we have."

"Let's Make Do with what we have." --That's another parable I'll expound on.

But for now, I realized that there was some reason I couldn't explain of why I needed a new wood floor that cost money and was an inconvenience to put in. We were able to use our stove for a week and also have to move the fridge and dishwasher. It was hard. But it gave up new opportunities to think about the things we do daily without thinking about it. So we went ahead with the new wood floor. For some reason it just made sense to both of us from somewhere outside our logical minds.

With no oven, I was able to spend a week thinking about how to eat without one. We used a Thermal Cooker and a portable gas stove and I learned some emergency preparedness tactics. Cool! I normally wouldn't have self-imposed that experience on myself. But this was an opportunity.

We never use the dishwasher anyway, so I thought. Wow. I like having this space empty for my step-stool and recycle bin. Let's just get rid of this. Convention says everyone has one, but we don't use it...so why have it. Now that's gone.

The fridge...it was a pain to move, but was doable and there really is nothing special about that. So on we go with the story.

We decided on an orange bamboo floor that was on sale. Paul got a few tools for laying wood floor, And after a few weeks. Voila. In was the floor. (To this day we still haven't finished the edges) But the floor is amazing. IT transformed our home. The feeling is totally different! Our kitchen linoleum and great room carpet made the area feel like two different rooms. Now the space is extremely open. The color just contrasts and complements the espresso cabinets and beige walls so perfectly balanced, with a general warmth that exudes over the whole area.

I thought to myself, "How did we go so long without this amazing piece that creates such a strong change in our home?" And the answer..."We didn't know any better. We hadn't thought of it before. We weren't used to or experienced with wood floors. It just never occurred to us--the potential."

Now I'm not saying everyone needs a wood floor. It's like a haircut. Different cuts for different face shapes and blah, blah blah. But...we finally have something that fits us, our personality, our home atmosphere we are going for. And when those all align--wow. There is true harmony.

Now, i have to tell you. I'm a horrible deep cleaner most of the time. Paul will readily admit that he deep cleans our bathrooms. I, on the other hand, would rather organize and find a home for everything in the house. I know exactly where everything is. But Paul always notices when things aren't clean. We just have different focuses. I tidy up. He cleans.

So with the new wood floor, it requires extra care. Such quality needs to be well-maintained. Paul questioned how I was going to keep it clean, since I struggled keeping the linoleum clean. And the answer has been it isn't a problem. Why? I love my floor. I appreciate and value it so much--it brings me joy--that I can't help but want to take care of it and clean it. I realize the importance of not letting water sit on it too long or it will ruin it. So I take care of it. I have tools to take care of it, so it is easy for me. And we established rules for the kids so they too understand the importance of being gentle and careful with it.

The result?
Well, the transition was hard at first, for the kids. And we got some scratches from kids not thinking or not understanding the effect of certain toys being dragged accross, etc. But overall now, the kids get it. Ethan has to clean up his floor messes right away. We put felt pads under some furniture that could scratch. I sweep at least once a day--but I was doing that already. And the list goes on.

My Lesson: by having quality that fit our needs, desires and feel of our home. And by establishing rules and a foundation of appreciation and understanding the floor and reasons why we treated the floor well. We set expectations that our children rose up to. They aren't as reckless and have more awareness. They understand what good quality is. They appreciate nature and know where wood comes from and how certain things do and don't work with wood--so they better appreciate nature. And I understand better why I never liked cleaning--I didn't value the result or the materials. It was a task to do, instead of the results to be pleased with. I realize I have transformed. I love quality when it matters and am ok spending a little extra (though still on sale) if it will benefit and transform me and my family or our house to better reach our ideal and potential.

There are many other lessons and things I could go on about, but this is running much longer than expected. So if you read this whole thing. Give yourself a pat on the back. You made it through.
And hopefully there is something helpful for you in this.

 Life is about learning and transforming and getting better acquainted with our true potential. What is your true potential. How are you transforming? What new experiences and opportunities surround you?

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