My Life on the Gerbil Wheel

When I was a little girl, we had pet gerbils — Diana and Charles.  As in the princess and prince of Wales.  Was I a child of the 80s or what?

Their favorite activity was to spin on the wire wheel that was attached to the side of their cage.  They would run around and around and around and around, never going anywhere or making any progress.

As I was wiping the kitchen counters and loading the dishwasher this morning, for the eleventy-trillionth time this week, I remembered those gerbils, running round and round on that wire wheel, going nowhere, accomplishing nothing.  That’s about how I feel.

All day long we make messes and clean them up, wash, rinse, repeat.  Round and round and round it goes, where it stops, nobody knows. 

I feel like a gerbil on that revolving wheel.  I am so very tired of doing the same chores over and over and over again, only to have my hard work sabotaged within minutes of completion.

I know that what I do is important.  I know that it’s my job.  I know that someone has to do it.  I know that jobs aren’t supposed to be all fun and games. 

Furthermore, I know that I should do everything to the glory of God, even if it’s cleaning toilets and wiping up spills and loading the dishwasher forty times a day.  I am to be grateful for the work I have been given. 

And truly, what do I have to complain about?  I have plenty of good food, a comfortable home, healthy
happy kids, a devoted husband, my health, a
reliable income, a loving supportive church family.  I have nothing to complain about.  I know that women all across the world do what I do with much less to be thankful for.  I know that I should be
content with the revolving wheel.

But some days, I just don’t feel like doing my job.  I am not joyful.  In fact, sometimes I’m downright cranky.  I put off wiping that counter again and running the vacuum again and picking up a dirty sock AGAIN because I know as soon as I do it, there will be something else in its place.  Instead I peruse another few blogs, read another chapter in my novel, phone a friend, anything to avoid my responsibilities.  And the messes multiply.

It’s not a time issue.  I have plenty of time.  It’s an attitude issue.  It’s a heart issue.  I am not grateful for the work that has been given to me to do.  I wouldn’t mind the work so much if I just didn’t have to do it over and over and over again every. single. day.  It seems so futile. 

And yet, whether I procrastinate or not, the work eventually has to be done.  And I must be the one to do it.  I might as well just get it over with.  Procrastinating only makes the work seem more continuous.  So what is the answer? 

There is really only one option.  Just put one foot in front of the other, and "do the next thing."

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20 Responses

  1. Girl, you are singing my song! I mean, really, why even wipe the counter, when it’s just going to get dirty again .2 seconds?!

    And I’ve learned when you throw a pity party, it’s always messy to clean up. So, I just have to do like you said and JUST DO THE NEXT THING. Because it will be worse if I wait!

    But thanks for reminding me to stop reading your blog & clean the kitchen! 😉

  2. Yep. Singing to the choir over here :-). For me it is the unloading of the dishwasher that always does me in and makes me want to fling the dishes around…

  3. I feel your pain. And most of the time, I feel as though I am not appreciated. I mean, how well can two children (under the age of 2) appreciate that mom picks up their toys, washes their clothes, makes their meals . . . and the list goes on! My hubby is out of town most of the month and I feel that he can’t appreciate because he’s not there. Yep, we just have to suck it up and move on! But I do find it helps just to say it, have someone hear it and then I can feel better!

  4. I can’t respond to your comment via email for some reason so first I’ll say, “I have the most romantic husband you’ve never met! 😉 How’s the tummy today?”

    And then I will say in response to this truer-words-have-never-been-spoken post, Get out of my BRAIN, woman! You’re thinking my thoughts!

    And then I will move away from the computer slowly, grab my Comet, and go clean the master bathroom. Sigh.

  5. Oh I know what you mean. I tell my kids and Mr. Muscles all the time that I am one person and one person should not be the only one responsible for cleaning up the messes of 7 other people!! Some days I just feel so worn down. I take a little time to pray and I let God help me. There hasn’t been a time yet that He hasn’t and sometimes my attitude needs a little help!
    All for His glory, ~Rhen

  6. Are you a mind reader because the voices in my head are screaming everything you just said. You’re right we do need to be more grateful for the job we have…it’s so hard though.

  7. You just wrote about my exact day….and exact mood.
    I do need to be more grateful…even when scrubbing toilets.

  8. You didn’t tell me you could read my mind. That makes me curious about what else you know! 🙂 I am in the process of figuring out what clothing the kids will need for the fall…cleaning out the bedrooms…getting rid of excess toys (yes, I know, I should have learned my lesson before now)…I’m tired and I just want to sit around and watch Gilmore Girls…

  9. Oh, sister, it’s as if you crawled inside my head today and took a picture. Seriously. I am not feeling the stay-at-home mom love today. Tomorrow, I might happily run on that wheel all day, but today, I am cuhranky!

  10. I KNOW. I know. I know.

    I always tell my husband “I need more purpose today!”

    The heart thing is the issue, isn’t it? I guess nothing makes your heart get back to the right place than a harsh does of reality. I get these by visiting Fugees and volunteering somewhere. It always puts my heart back into what I know it should be into.

    Not that you were looking for advice… I mostly wanted to say I KNOW.



  11. Thank you for putting so many feelings into words! I often feel frustrated by the end of the day, every day sometimes. I try to be grateful for all that I have and the ability to do these things for my family. But sometimes I just don’t feel like it! Then I feel selfish and guilty and that put’s me back in a hamster wheel of another kind.

  12. I think we ALL have days like this,like yesterday I wanted to take a nap and snuggle with the baby, you know what I did took a nap and snuggled with the baby! and I feel GOOD about that

  13. I am going through the same thing! You are so right – DO THE NEXT THING! That link at the end is just what I needed. Thank you!


  14. I am SO with you!!!! Honestly, yesterday I felt like I was going to LOSE IT!!!!!!
    In addition to all you mention above, my boys fight. Constantly. Incessantly. It’s how they wake me up until their final words together at the end of the day. It puts a pit in my stomach that lasts all day. Sorry to vent, I feel like the flood gates have opened 🙂
    School can not start soon enough (then the drudgery of winter comes). Man I’m a big, fat DOWNER or what??????????
    I was just thinking the other day that I’m so grateful for finding blogs (esp yours). It makes me realize I’m not the only one experiencing these things 🙂
    Must be something in the air, a lot of my girlfriends here are singing the same tune.
    Well, off to do laundry, pick up doggy poop, change diapers, fix breakfast, pick up playdates and then clean up after all of them 🙂 Oh! Then be the cheerful wife for hubby!!!!!!
    I better start my praying now……. for strength and more patience 🙂

  15. Perfect description with the gerbil wheel. Some days my attitude is better about said wheel than others. I appreciate you sharing the Do the Next Thing link.

  16. I have got to the point that I am trying to teach my girls all the “whys” of what I do every day. It has really helped me put it in perspective to tell them why they have to do it. (Mostly I have figured out that dirt and clutter just makes you look lazy…but also, if you are clean you are less likely to be unhealthy or have bugs! haha This is my wisdom I am passing on to my girls! ;))

    My mom never told me why I should clean. she just made me do it, and then usually did my work over because I didn’t do it satisfactorily. This has caused me lots of hard times with my attitude as well. (Hey, no parent can be perfect… at least my mom didn’t damage me too bad 😉 hehee)

    Well, anyway. I just wanted to say that my lack of perfection in housework no longer gets me down (much).

    I have decided that if people think my house is disgusting they will not come in.

    No body has refused to enter yet.

    I do always apologise for the mess, but always let them know that the house was actually clean for about ten minutes yesterday! 😉

  17. Working from home makes for a messy house. My mother had an impecable house, but that’s what she focused on all day long – cleaning the house. I don’t have that kind of time or energy to devote to it, also I hate tedious tasks.

    Off topic, but of interest
    Blogher is inviting women bloggers to take part in an intitiative called Bloghers Act. I’ve responded to their request for nominations of a cause. I have asked Blogher to make healthcare in America their pet issue for this year and posted my request at So Sioux Me – I encourage other bloggers to echo my request. It also lists 3 tangible and easy ways bloggers can influence the change. Earlier in the week I asked the question What Would Jesus Do? Concerning health care in America at https://traceesioux.blogspot.com/2007/07/what-would-jesus-do.html.
    Earlier in the week I asked the question What Would Jesus Do? https://traceesioux.blogspot.com/2007/08/bloghers-act.html
    Pass it on.
    Tracee Sioux
    So Sioux Me
    Empower Your Self,
    Empower Your Daughter

  18. I’m glad I stumbled on this post (via Blogher), because I’ve felt this same way all week long. I LOVE mowing the lawn because I can see my accomplishment and it doesn’t have to be done for another week. How I wish dishes, laundry, and housecleaning were the same. But with kids, that just doesn’t happen (how I miss single laundry–two loads of laundry once a week–whites and colors).

    But you’re so right. I feel much better about things as soon as I just put one foot in front of the other. I need to practice that principle tomorrow. Thanks!

  19. Perfect word picture. I feel the same way and every chore seems like a mountain of work. You are so right when you say that it is not a time issue, but an attitude issue. Thank you for sharing one of the most common struggles we have as housewives and mommies. I will remember your words and know that I can do it…one step at a time.

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