Housekeeping not priority over creativity

Published 9:59 am Monday, December 3, 2012

Column: Something About Nothing

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny compared to what lies within us.”

When I read this statement I marveled at the wisdom these words conveyed. Those words spoke to my heart.

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After spending a weekend with my grandchildren I was reviewing the past years and the way I had lived my life. Unfortunately we don’t get do-overs. While watching my grandchildren create and explore, I wished I had the wisdom in my earlier years while my children were young that I have now.

I spent too much time worrying about whether my house was clean and picked up. I spent too much time worrying about the floors being vacuumed and the dust settling on my furniture. I spent too much time warning about not putting muddy feet on the floor or sticky fingers on the walls. My house was nicely decorated; at least I thought so.

At that time I probably thought my decorating sense was tasteful. Maybe it wasn’t and I was fooling myself and expending too much energy worrying about what others would think when they came to my home.

I spent too much time putting restrictions on my children about what they could or could not do in the house. I stifled all of our creativity because of proper housekeeping methods.

Something in me changed when I had my grandchildren. Immediately I painted my porch bright red, yellow and blue. I painted clouds on the ceiling, a chalkboard on the wall and decorated the porch with clowns. It became the toy room for my grandchildren. I made some puzzle floor tiles for part of the area that are made out of wood, and I painted each piece. They are part of the floor, but they also are a puzzle to play with. I let my creativity run wild for my grandchildren and put aside caring if my house was proper according to standards.

I took the pictures they drew and started putting them up in my small office over the wallpaper. It is a hodgepodge of wallpaper and pictures. I wish I had let go of my perfect when my kids were little and let them explore their creativity more.

I don’t have a good basement. I love my basement of stone walls and rooms and cement floors. It is my crafting basement. I finally got it ready for my grandchildren to let their skills fly in the basement.

Thanksgiving weekend we spent most of the time in the basement. The kids are painting squares and triangles on my cement floor. They are creating a cool floor design. They took apart an old computer piece by piece to see what makes a computer run. They took apart my old I-robot that no longer runs. They set up an old train set. They sketched pictures of themselves for my children’s book that is coming out soon. They didn’t want to leave the basement. Video games, television and even eating took second place to their creativity.

I had someone say to me recently, “You used to take better care of your house. It was always dusted and always vacuumed. Everything was always in its place. What happened to you?”

I didn’t quite know how to answer that. It made me feel lazy, but yet I am always busy. Then I realized I didn’t care. It didn’t matter to me if my house was a little dusty, if my floors once in a while had a few crumbs and that my bed wasn’t always made or that occasionally there were a few dishes in the sink and a craft project was sitting on a cupboard. I think a little hodgepodge mess is who I am.

I didn’t know until I was older that I had the creativity inside of me. Watching my grandchildren discover new skills and interests that they never knew existed inside of themselves was exciting.

The quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson reminded me that we can’t change our past, we don’t know our future, but we can hold on to what is inside of ourselves that makes us who we are. We can nurture it, let it grow and remember it is there. That discovery is more important than anything that happens in our lives because it is that which is inside of ourselves that will rise above whatever happens and get us through to the many tomorrows that are in our future.

That is what I want my grandchildren to remember. Those creative things they learned will stay inside them and rise up and meet them when they least expect it to help them through their joys and sorrows of all the yesterdays and all the tomorrows.

It is the season of believing. Believe.


Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday. Send email to her at