Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Mom Exhibit: Another mom fights the dust

I'm not alone! My girl, Deb, sent me this email the other night and I just about peed my pants. Let's give a shout-out to our newest Mom Exhibit contributor. I know she'll feel welcome here!

My name is Deborah — and I am the mother of a messy house.

For 6 years, my family and I lived in a fabulous neighborhood. I was surrounded by amazing people, and yet...I can count on my left hand the number of people I ever invited INto my house. And I know of only ONE person whom I ever felt 100% at ease with just "dropping" by at any time.

I am not a naturally organized person. I would LOVE to be, but I just am not. It's taken me several years to come to terms with the fact that I may never be. I spent 5 years absolutely certain that no other mom struggled the way I did to keep my kids from decorating my house in Easter grass, sprinkles, flour and bits of styrofoam — man do I hate that packing material. It seemed every other house had a place for everything, while my house was exploding in clutter. Their homes smelled of lemon and Clorox and a fun Scentsy. Mine was usually a mixture of a hidden diaper, funky sink gunk and laundry that had sat in the washer far too long. What was I missing? Why couldn't I keep up?

Then, after 3 years of friendship, a dear friend finally let me into her world and showed me that I was not alone. She started letting me in despite the condition of her home. Instead of waiting for the end of cleaning day to have us over, we were let in on ordinary days when there was a good chance cereal was trailed from one room to the next.

Her house looked JUST.LIKE.MINE.

She showed me that she fought just as hard as I did in the war of kids vs. home. And although she won far more battles than I ever have, she had many times where she too lost. I LOVED being in her home. It felt safe. It felt normal. I felt normal. Instead of sitting in her perfect home worrying what she may think seeing my sticky floors and stained counter tops, I was able to sit back on her couch and breathe.

My husband and I moved last summer, and shortly after, I met Becky. OK, so we had met before, as she moved into my old neighborhood a good YEAR before I moved out, but I actually got to know Becky. Why? Because I was now living with family and was no longer in the position where I could HOST a play date. So the fear of having to invite her over to my inevitable mess was gone...and thus, I was more open to meeting her. However, I was amazed by her and the world she immediately opened to me.

Once again, I found that I am not alone. She shared my war stories. 2 hours of attempting to do dishes, only to find that the rest of the house is in shambles, but HEY there will be clean forks for dinner. Showering daily is overrated, and yoga pants are acceptable attire 24 hours a day.

Now that I had TWO allies, I allowed myself to relax. I decided to really live by the mantra, "If you'd like to see me, stop by anytime. If you'd like to see my house, please make an appointment." It has been liberating, and has allowed me to make many new friends. And let's be honest, as an adult female making new friends is no easy task. The anxiety from the mere idea of having to meet new people pretty much gives me hives.

In November, our family welcomed TWO new babies. If I thought keeping up with 2 kids was trying, I had no idea the battle of 4. Let's not discuss laundry. The babies are only 3 months old, and I already feel the added pressure and burden of keeping the chaos in check around here.

I spent the better part of this week working on my home. Two of the days this week, I only had 3 kids — the 3 that take a nap for the better part of the afternoon at that — and still, by the end of the night, I still was working on my "after" status for the home, "after" meaning the cleaning I get done only after the kids are in bed. I had to ask myself, what exactly is my "after" expectation? What level am I trying to achieve here?

And so today, I decided THIS IS IT. THIS IS MY AFTER.

It's not going to be the same as Becky's or yours. My "after" isn't going to be out of a magazine. There are still going to be internet routers sitting on my counter, neatly stacked out of child's reach for Chris to configure when he gets home. It is certain that a stuffed animal (or five) will be found somewhere in my room. A laundry basket will have some item of clothing in it and the back door will have smudgy hand prints. And day after day, I will make my best attempt to bust out the Clorox Clean-Up and wipe the counters, vacuum the carpets and dream of the day when snapping my fingers will put everything in its place.

But for today, this is what my house is at its best, because I have 4 amazing kids. (Two of which spend a good hour or two in the afternoon being babysat by "Netflix" while I attempt to nurse my twins down for a nap so that I can survive until Chris gets home at 7:30pm.)

I want to thank the women in my life who have let me know it's "OK" to say:

--I'm only picking up these trains 3 times today and then....I'm done.
--Who wants cereal for dinner?
--I'll shower tomorrow (or the next day).
--Let's go to the park — the sink smells and I'm not ready to face it.
--We have the entire set to that McDonald's Happy Meal giveaway.
--Uh, just smell it. I think that laundry basket was clean.

Also, I want to thank my friends and mother and mother-in-law and family who have come to my rescue when I'm losing the war. They have suited up for battle, and lent their efforts to my home.

It used to really embarrass me that I'd need help here, but you know what...we all need help. Sometimes, cleaning the same toys and clothes over and over is just TOO much. If there's anything the last year has taught me, it's to not be afraid to let others in now and then when you're feeling overwhelmed. I think we should swap houses every few months just to mix things up. It's so much easier for me to wash your counter tops than it is to wipe mine. I don't look at yours every day. I haven't folded that shirt 100 times and it doesn't bother me to put this puzzle together, because I haven't done it 5 times already this afternoon.

It's time we as women allow each other to be human. So I challenge you to join the Mom Exhibit and put your home on display. If putting pictures online is too big of a step, start by inviting someone over, and leave the dishes in the sink.

1 comment:

  1. Ok, so this blog post really struck home with me. I am not the "stereotypical" stay at home mom. I am not naturally organized, I hate cleaning, and I really don't like kids besides my friends kids(who I know have their kids under control) and my own of course (and I only have 1, lol). I am "different", I work on cars (am a certified mechanic), do handy work, and train dogs for search and rescue as well as a number of other competitive venues. But, you know what, you're right, it's ok, lol. Thanks Becky, I feel a little better now and not quite like such a failure, lol.

    So how do I get signed up to join the Mom Exhibit? I think I'd like to give it a shot.