Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Buried alive

Today, the walls around me are caving in. I want to cry. My chest is tight.

I try so hard to be kind, thoughtful, forgiving, compassionate and mostly, nonjudgmental. I really am a good person with a very open heart.

It crushes me, though, when someone sees my messy, chaotic home. It feels like my home is seen as a direct reflection of my character; that when it's filthy, it must mean I'm a slob; that when it's in shambles, it means I'm not caring for my kids.

Today, I am so overwhelmed by all of it. No one sees my hard work. They don't see how patient I am to my kids behind closed doors. They don't see me pouring my heart into teaching my daughter to be respectful and kind. They don't see me moving furniture and making barricades so the little boy doesn't climb, fall of the furniture and get another knot on his head. They don't feel my extreme embarrassment when they see my trashed car full of toys, jackets, socks, shoes, breadcrumbs.

I'm very hard on myself for not being able to keep my crap together. I'm ashamed when you can see my shortcomings so obviously just by looking at my floors and kitchen sink.

My work is invisible. It's enough to drive me to insanity. Even on my best days, when I really spent the ENTIRE day cleaning, my home still looks trashed by 8 pm. Those who stop by look down upon my obvious incapabilities and laziness.

I'm just so tired of the fight. What's the point? What is the point in putting forth so much effort for zero outcome and zero credit? What is the point of maintaining a mess? I really don't understand what I'm supposed to learn from all of this.

The past month, I finally gave up. I gave up trying to keep the laundry clean, folded, socks matched. I gave up vacuuming. I stopped putting the toys away. I stopped cleaning the bedrooms. I felt helpless, like there was absolutely no point to maintaining a mess alone. Even on my best days, I couldn't keep the home clean and tidy for surprise guests.

I wish there was some beautiful, visible product of my dedication to my family to offset my constant reminder that I'm failing at a clean home.

I know I can't truly give up. The home would definitely be condemned. Giving up isn't an option. I just wish there was some daily reward for all of my hard work, a gold star or verbal recognition, like at school or work.

But, alas, it's just me and the SOS pad. And that gets stinky every day.

I need some help, advice, encouragement. What keeps you motivated? How do you balance cleaning and playing with the kids?


  1. Don't let the judgment (even silent forms) of others steal your joy! You are busy being a wife & a mama, enjoy that. If people want to determine who you are based one how much laundry is put away or how many dirty dishes are sitting in your sink, then perhaps they need some time looking in their own mirror. Keep doing what you're doing :)

  2. My house is a complete mess right now - we're about to move into our own place for the first time ever! I'm both excited and apprehensive about it because it means I don't have any excuses anymore for having the mess. One thing I think helps me to "keep it together" is to cut down on the amount of stuff I (and my kiddo) have. If I find laundry on the floor for a few weeks, that must mean I don't really need it. Toys that my girl doesn't play with? I should give them away. I've had stuff in boxes for years... I probably don't need it. It's literally harder to make messes when you don't have much to make messes with! The other thing I'm trying to do is to make a to do list for each day with only 3 essential things that I "need" to get done - the rest is a bonus. My house is never clean all at once - one day the bathroom is awesome, the next it's the kitchen, etc. but it never all looks good at one time. I only have one 1 year old at the moment, so I know I have no clue what it's like with kids that can make their own decisions and the inevitable mess that goes with it. I'm sorry that you're feeling judged - spending time with your kids is the most important part of your day... stick to it! And then stick it to the man (or woman) who says differently! Since it's the Nauvoo reunion this weekend, I'll sign this off this way... You rock Sister Titus! Love~ Sister Boren.

    1. You are all awesome!! You are all good mums and that is what your children and the world needs. I wish I'd had a bunch of friends like you all when my children were little. If I came to your house I'd be coming to see YOU not grading your housework!! I do have a friend struggling in much the same situation (4 boys under 7,her oldest and my youngest are BFF) and I would really just love to send her away for a week on a holiday and clean her whole house just to give her a break only because i remember how exactly painful and unrelenting the whole house-mess-kids-guilt thing was for me!

  3. "My work is invisible." My favorite line. Sometimes it really is, BUT the product of your invisiblness, won't be. Your children are lucky to have you, messy house or not! I hope you aren't really too hard on yourself, you are pretty awesome!

  4. It stinks that this is one thing people can see and judge on, when there are so many much worse "weaknesses". All I can say is that I am in the same boat. I have a hard time seeing the point of it all, too. I only have one son, but I have an illness and just cannot keep up. You are doing a great job and all that you do to pour your heart into your kids is appreciated by their First Father immensely. He chose YOU to be their steward in this life because of who you are. Remember a clean house is not something you take with you to the next life and as you said yourself, it is fleeting. I hate that we do all that work and it doesn't last even sometimes for one stinking hour, but what does last is how much you love your kids and all that you do for them.

  5. Oh Becky, I'm sorry this has become so overwhelming for you. For me the biggest help has been teaching my son to help me clean. He can now wipe up spills, take clothes out of our front-load washer and put them in the dryer, and clean up his toys. It took a long time to teach him, but it was sooo worth it. One thing I've noticed though, is that he doesn't like to clean unless I'm there with him. It's become part of "our" time: we clean together. Just for 5 minutes at a time, but it helps.

    Whatever you choose to do, make sure that it's what will work best for your family and keep you sane. My house hasn't had a deep clean in ages, but we try to keep it tidy. That helps me with my sanity. And every now and again Jeremy and I take turns watching our boy while the other deep cleans part of the house, like the toilets, shower, kitchen counters, mops the floors, etc. But we don't get it all done in one day. That would require a miracle. Or outside help. ;) You can do it!

  6. All I can say is I understand and I'm in the same boat. What does get accomplished gets undone quickly, almost before you can even move on! Its hard to get to removing the clutter when the other tasks take precedence. But watch Hoarders and you'll see what happens when you don't do it! Is there more I could do? Sure. But I also don't want to give up the things *I* want to do to maintain my sanity. Also, I don't think you can do it alone. Enlist the help of the husband and kids. And friends! Can someone watch the kids for an afternoon so you can catch up on something? My Bestie, who has no kids, has been helping me tackle my clutter. She has cleaned out my pantry cupboard and my dining room table and its been a massive help. I want to more actively maintain it because SHE cleaned it for me!

  7. I haven't blog surfed in a while, and I did just now and came across your blog! And I rarely comment on any blog, but here I am... I have totally felt this way! Oh my goodness... I've let go quite a bit - I'm giving you a link to one of my old blog posts about this very subject... my thought process on letting go of June Cleaver. :) Love the "lowering the bar for mothers one post at a time!" That's how I feel! :) Love it!


  8. I was raised in a perfectly clean house...miserable and lonely!!
    I have spent the better part of the last 15-20years in therapy for various "problems"(a teenage eating disorder, abusive relationships, depression, PTSD, anxiety...etc, etc I could go on but i sound like a really sad case then!) The point is that it took this long to realise that I had grown up without feeling I was valued above the housework! little wonder i kept getting into abusive/neglectful relationships with people, others & sadly myself. I had disconnected with my feelings/inner child/Divine Nature/the Spirit and continually trying on my own to "do the right thing" seemed to never be good enough. Now I finally feel I am not trapped in this cycle. I have also had my eyes opened to a few untalked about truths: there are often trade-offs for a wonderfully kept house! Unless you have alot of hired-help, family-help, friend-help(like Amy suggests) It is likely that you regularly work yourself into exhaustion, or your children pay for your dedication to housework frou-frou! I have discovered many of the I'm-in-awe-how-does-she-do-it mums ABUSE the concepts of TV, outdoor play, the playroom (some is good, lots is great, but every weekday from afterschool til bath & dinner time and stay out there all day Saturday??) I seriously wonder why they didn't just get a dog. These can be good if not great aids to modern life if used appropriately and in moderation. Parenting is more than just being the legal adult on the premises.
    Or there are the ultra controlling (desperate housewives) who restrict their children to rediculous levels : never mind no jumping on the lounge - no-one is allowed in the lounge to even sit on it!! It still has the plastic cover on it.. There is a healthy level of untidiness. Remember that the housework will still be there in 10 or 20 years, but your little ones won't be! Cherish them!