The meaning of the name “Emily” is industrious. It’s a strong, solid meaning, certainly not romantic or glamorous. I made the joke once that while my mother’s name means princess, my name means cleaning woman. Sometimes I wonder if I’m living up to my name, especially when I come to the end of a day and think, “What have I spent this whole day doing?” But then something occurs to remind me that, yes, I really AM industrious … under the right circumstances.
Since the food for Baby J’s party was, literally, given to me for free on a platter, I spent my night before the party cleaning and organizing rather than prepping food. I sorted and tossed out in a general frenzy of de-cluttering. I worked efficiently, I stayed focused, and I got a LOT done. I was very pleased with the results, and I continue to enjoy the results of my labor. But, basking in the aftermath of all that hard work made me feel a bit dejected, too. WHY CAN’T I DO THAT ALL THE TIME??? Why do I let things get into such a state that a major cleaning/decluttering spree becomes necessary?
I know part of the answer: I just don’t function well without a deadline. I am a person who craves deadlines, clocks and “due by” dates, but they have to be set by an external source, or have people other than my own family involved. I could set myself a deadline, but if there’s no outside accountability, there’s no guarantee that I will follow it. That’s why if I really want to get my house clean, I must invite someone over. (As a side note, this is why homeschooling wouldn’t work for me. I greatly admire people who can set their own schedules and follow them, but that’s just not me. Thank God for our little Lutheran school outside my back door!)
There was a time when I felt guilty about this aspect of my personality, when I felt that there was something wrong with me, something that needed to be fixed. For a while, I even felt that I was sinning in some way. But I’ve come to accept that this is just a part of my personality like any other, and it’s neither good nor bad, neither here nor there. Because, for all that I have a hard time making my own schedule and sticking to it, I have the gift of being able to be very flexible, to go with the flow, to fly by the seat of my pants — and fly well! Situational changes don’t throw me. We can’t do Plan A? No problem! I’ll just create Plan B! I view that as a gift, one that has benefited myself and my family. (Which is why my anxiety and my fears about “What if something goes wrong?” intellectually bother me so much. I know that it’s not me! I know that it’s something outside of me, something chemical or hormonal. Anyway, I digress…)
I have wondered at times if I’m a bit ADD (attention deficit disorder). I fit some of the traits, especially the trait that it’s hard for me to stay focused on things, especially things that are not interesting to me. I did see a psychologist about this once, many years ago, and he told me that I don’t fit the clinical definition for ADD. But after doing some IQ and personality testing on me, my psychologist recognized that I have some unique personality traits that can cause problems depending on the situation. Finally he said, “Emily, you have to learn to love the ‘disease’.” So now, that’s how I try to look at it. I have to learn to love the disease, meaning that I have to accept my personality for what it is. I am thankful for the things I can do well, and I try not to get upset about the things I don’t do well. But I am grateful when a reason to clean and organize and de-clutter presents itself!
I may not be good at keeping my house in perfect order, but I am industrious in other things. I hope I can pass on some of my industrious-ness to my daughters. More importantly, I hope I can help them to find and develop their own industrious-ness in ways that are important to them. Because that, as Martha Stewart says, would be a “good thing.”