Monday, November 22, 2010

Dirty Houses

Lately, I've been really struggling with my household responsibilities and being a patient, loving mom. I seem to get really hung up on the minutiae of household stuff so it doesn't avalanche on me and bury me by midnight. My brain tends to look for shortcuts because I know I'm the only one here to physically get it done. My head sounds something like this:

"I know, little Abby, you just want me to read you another story but I have to do these dishes first or they will pile up before lunch. And Hello Snapper's tank. You are killing me with your filmy water after two days. Don't you suck on algae in your real life pond world? Why are you getting Popeye here in less than brackish water? No more pets. Sadie's water dish. Almost empty. That friggin' self feeding water thing is heavier than Sadie herself. I'm going to get a hamster bottle. That should work for five minutes. Bottles. I need to wean you from your bottles, little Abby. Right after I do these dishes."

"I will relax with the kids once I get everything put away because I just can't think in all this clutter."

"Yay, me! I folded two tubs of laundry and just have to put it away now. I am a Laundry Queen! Wait, that was the buzzer. For what? What was I timing? Is someone in Time Out? Is something in the toaster oven? OH man, that was the dryer. I'm not done with the laundry afterall. My laundry owns me."

"I can play kickball with Grayson after I sweep up the kitchen but -oh my- when did that one happen? What is that, yogurt? We don't even have yogurt. We need yogurt. Where's my grocery list. I forgot to add lightbulbs. What kind are in those little domes in the hallway? Man, I have to check now because I'll forget to do that later. Let me get this chair. What the? What's this sticky stuff on the chair, is that yogurt?" And so on...

So I ask you, when you find a friend's house cluttered with toys, millions of books opened and forgotten, physical evidence of an interrupted tea party, do you judge and think what a horrible house cleaner the mother is? Do you automatically assume you can do much better (because you DO much better?) Do you look down your nose on her parenting skills and suddenly feel superior because you'd never let your house be seen in such disarray?

Here's why we might not want to be so hasty next time. The children in that "dirty" home may benefit from Mom putting down the OCD and letting go of her own expectations of a perfect home, if only for one day of the week. I realize you can't let things go crazy, especially when you're the only one who cleans up but leaving it all go for one day or even two won't hurt. In fact, it's worth it if it helps a little person feel more loved and connected to his/her world and yours. Totally worth it, ten-fold.

When the kids are little, it's all about being with you. That's it. They want your company. They want to have your attention because life is new, overwhelming, and marvelous. Let them marvel with you. It's what makes them happy. That's what gives them peace. That's all they really want. They want you. So give them you, not the back of you as you sponge off your kitchen floor because someone might step in something sticky. You can get it later, with a chisel yes, but later. Your floors will still be floors in two years. Your little children will only be this small for five minutes. Don't spend those five minutes with Pine-Sol.

Here's why I will not clean my house tomorrow. And maybe not even the next day. But yes, I promise I will clean up before Thanksgiving because well, that's just taking things too far out of my comfort zone, y'all.

(Stolen from a wonderful website I stumbled across called Peaceful Parenting)

I Took His Hand and Followed

photo by Mathew Cook

My dishes went unwashed today,
I didn’t make the bed,
I took his hand and followed
Where his eager footsteps led.

Oh yes, we went adventuring,
My little son and I,
Exploring all the great outdoors
Beneath the summer sky.

We waded in a crystal stream,
We wandered through a wood.
My kitchen wasn’t swept today,
But life was sweet and good.

We found a cool sun-dappled glade
And now my small son knows
How Mother Bunny hides her nest
Where fern and larkspur grow.

We watched a robin feed her young,
We climbed a sunlit hill,
Saw cloud-sheep scamper through the sky;
We plucked a daffodil.

That my house was neglected,
That I didn’t sweep the stair,
In twenty years no one on earth
Will know or even care.

But that I’ve helped a little boy
To noble manhood grow,
In twenty years the whole wide world
May look and see and know.

~ Ms. Peifer


Anonymous said...

Lucky are Grayson, Abby, & Andy :)
From Wine Gap (just south of the Finger Lakes)!

pajama mom said...

"my laundry owns me"
amen, sister friend.

One Sided Momma said...

anony-nam-ous :) not sure lucky works here. more like "stuck" but thank you. xoxox

pj - i first wrote, i am laundry's four letter word. i'm trying not to curse at all here and in real life. :)