What Every Mother Needs to Know and Hear~I Struggle Too.

I didn’t live in the land of Facebook or e-mail when my kids were little. We didn’t even have a computer or internet for many of those early years. Motherhood was a solitary journey and I lived for the days a friend would call me up to ask how I was doing.

I also thrived on Mom’s Morning out at church or when one of us had an energetic boost and could invite the others over for playtime and coffee. These were the sanity breaks that my mind and soul craved. Not because I was so lonely(maybe I was a little) but more so for the comradeship of knowing that I was not alone in my struggles.   I loved walking into my friend’s house and seeing the crumbs on her floor , the laundry piled high, bedroom doors closed so the mess behind them wasn’t initially visible.  I wanted to see that her fridge was a mess and her beds weren’t made. I needed to know that I wasn’t the only one.  It gave me a chance to catch my breath and say, “Hey, it’s okay~you’re not the only one.”

For many years having people over was a painful process. I felt like everything needed to be in it’s place and perfectly clean. I would wash mirrors, toilets, windows, floors, clean out the fridge, rearrange the furniture, hide away mounds of laundry under blankets and in closets and pretend to look pulled together. It was exhausting. And rarely did that happen without some yelling and crying. Mostly from me. The pressure to have it all together is immense. Especially from the generation before us.  Let’s face it, our mothers and fathers came from a time when “cleanliness is next to Godliness”( which incidentally is NOT in the Bible).  Any sign that you are a messy person was the equivalent of being spiritually undisciplined and unacceptable.  I succumbed to this pressure for many years and tortured my family in the process.

That was then.

I have learned after 21 years of marriage that the people with the perfectly clean houses fall into a couple of categories:

– either both parents work all week and the kids are at school/daycare all week so no one is there to LIVE IN the house.

-At least one parent is completely anal about cleanliness and is a perfectionist beyond my realm of knowledge

or – they don’t have half the junk we do and they live in a house where everything has a home so it’s very easy to keep clean.

 

I am none of these. We have moved a lot, we have rented in places where closets and cupboards were minimal at best.  I am not a disciplined housekeeper and perhaps that’s due to my overall physical strength and well-being most of the time.  And we tend to have the cheaper variety of department store furniture, shelving, storage which is barely sufficient to corral and organize everyone’s stuff.

It doesn’t really matter why, it just matters that it is.  I’m not the crazy, clean housewife. I would rather sit down with my husband after supper than do dishes.  I would rather sleep in on Saturday occasionally than jump on the laundry.  I would rather go visit a friend than wash floors.  There’s always something else I’d rather be doing.

But it is still a struggle and I do wish that I was THAT woman over there who always has the perfectly clean house,  with the perfectly organized kitchen and the perfectly perfect kids.   Scratch that.  I don’t want that.  I don’t want to be squeaky clean. I want to be real.

We’re not all cut out to be perfectly perfect housewives with high heels on , a pressed apron on our hips and dinner on the table at 5:35 pm exactly.  Some of us are the ones with no apron on, flour on our hips, splatters on our shirt, and cookies in the oven at 5:45 pm just starting to think about what we can scrounge together for supper.

Yesterday I tackled a mountain of laundry. Laundry is the bane of my existence. It always has been. When the kids were little my mom would come to visit and do laundry for 4 days straight. She rocks the laundry room. I just can’t. I get overwhelmed on load 3.  Yes my kids do their own laundry but there’s always seasonal, household and SOCKS that fall through the cracks and accumulate. Yesterday’s pile had a ridiculous amount of mismatched socks of every size and colour. There was also mitts and scarves in abundance from our all-too-long winter. And then blankets and sheets from sleepovers and towels from 3 bathrooms and 6 people. We just suck at getting it done all the time.  And so, here I was , faced with a room where the floor had not been seen in several months. It was brutal.   But I did it. I started in the morning, sorted, folded, moved out, sorted, washed, dried, folded, sorted….it’s a lot of work when kids are growing out of stuff faster than you can wash a load.

I’m terrible at laundry. And if I lied to you and told you that my kids are all well trained and have this craft down to a science you might think I’m a great teacher. But I’m not.  Half of them are really good and half of them are like me. 🙂  It’s okay, you know.  It’s okay that we’re not perfect.  Because I suspect that someone reading this right now struggles with laundry too. Or maybe dishes. Or maybe your floors get washed once a season or once a year. Or maybe you only vacuum when company comes.  It’s totally okay. I’m kind of over the shame and guilt that some throw on us because we’re not all Susie-Homemaker baking bread, cleaning out dust bunnies and polishing floors on a daily basis.  Shame and guilt have no place in conversations with other moms.  I only have solidarity and support.  If I can tackle 15 loads of laundry in one day, anyone can.  But if you can only do one load, sister, I am SO there with you.

The more we admit that we struggle, the more comfortable we make it for someone else to admit they’re not perfect either.  The lady who gets all her laundry done every day might be terrible at baking. Her poor , poor children never get a home made cookie~ Ever.  See?  No one is perfect at it all.

 

This is after I cleaned out the 10 loads that needed to be folded~not even kidding.
This is after I cleaned out the 10 loads that needed to be folded~not even kidding.
A portion of the pile before me to fold. *sigh*
A portion of the pile before me to fold. *sigh*

 

 

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Progress!

 

Oh and one more tip: if your mother, or mother-in-law or friend, or aunt, or nosy neighbour, or stranger on the sidewalk offers to come and do your laundry for you…..TAKE THE DEAL!!! 🙂

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A Growing Intolerance for Children

Is it me, or are people in general becoming more intolerant of small children?  And not just small children, but moms with small children.

Perhaps it’s the *hide-behind-your-keyboard* syndrome of saying anything you want but I’m seeing a lot of posts on Facebook and Twitter especially from people who clearly think children should NOT be seen and definitely NOT heard.

Now, I’m old school and I like it when parents have control of their kids.  I’m the mom who has walked out of a grocery store with a full cart ready for the cashier when all hell broke loose and the animals left their cages.  I have told my kids I won’t put up with temper tantrums and ridiculous outbursts in stores or restaurants. In fact, there was a season in our lives where we rarely went out to eat because I fully believe the other patrons have a right to eat their meals in relative peace.

However, recently there have been a rash of reports and stories of restaurants implementing adult-only dinner hours or even some that are exclusively adult only restaurants.  I’m not saying I wouldn’t go there but this is a trend that may not be all that family friendly. (which is probably the point)  Of course, businesses have a right to cater to whomever they wish. And I’m all for the market deciding who wins and who loses.

But what about walking in malls? Or grocery shopping on Saturdays when it’s busy?  Or perhaps even home shows and exhibit halls?  Should there be a ban on any child under 7? Should strollers be banned? This is some of the complaining that I am seeing and hearing about.  People who don’t have children are becoming more vocal about their dislike of little people *ruining* their days off. They don’t want to go to parks and hear a wailing toddler. They don’t want to go to Starbucks and stand in line behind a mom with a baby on her hip. They don’t want to enter the bookstore if there’s a mom with a stroller heading in right in front of them.  And I find it all a little baffling.

Since when did children become enemies?  Perhaps these anti-child Debby-Downers have forgotten that they too, were once children.  Perhaps they have failed to see that children are our future. Maybe they don’t realize that if Mama doesn’t get to go to  the bookstore today, she might be housebound and depressed all week. And maybe they’re completely oblivious to the fact that small children don’t grow up to be well-behaved older children and teens unless they are given the opportunities and the freedom to be in all the big-people restaurants, stores and events.  A child doesn’t just wake up at the age of 12 and know how to act in public. They are taught. They are allowed to fail and they are given grace to learn from their mistakes and outbursts.

The tone of the conversation I was a part of yesterday on Twitter took direct aim at parents with double wide strollers out in public. Specifically, a crowded exhibit hall on the weekend apparently was the site of such strollers with too many people and some put-out show goers.  Some of the comments were directly bashing a parent’s choice to go out with their two little children to a place where “the kids couldn’t possibly be having fun.” And the “selfishness” of parents to not consider a crowded aisle and how inconvenient it was for the browsers.  First of all, if you haven’t had 2 little kids under 3 and haven’t been out with them for more than an hour, you probably aren’t the best judge of what is convenient.  As for the concept that 2 parents want to spend time out together at a SPRING HOME SHOW on a weekend after one of the longest, snowiest, coldest winters ever and take their kids with them as being wrong is frustrating and frankly, offensive. I remember a time when I had my first 2 (13 months apart) and they LOVED going out just to look at people and get a change of scenery. We didn’t have family where we lived and we couldn’t afford a sitter. And truthfully, we wanted to spend time with our kids out and about together. With Daddy working all week and me housebound, these were rare, fun occasions. We didn’t do it all the time. We didn’t assume we could go anywhere with our kids. We usually chose the roomy sidewalks of a park, a big mall or large department stores.  If an exhibit hall or showcase or event wants to limit the size of strollers or even ban them, I’m actually fine with that.  But if they haven’t, step aside. Mama is a-comin’.

I’m sure there are small strollers that are relatively cheap. I’m sure there are double income families who can afford 2 or 3 strollers.  We were not that family. Our stroller was a gift. And I used it through 4 children.Our first 2 were 13 months apart, then 2.5 years between #2 and #3 so we used it again. And then my last 2 were 20 months apart.   It was well worn out by the time I retired it.  We didn’t have family who could look after our kids whenever we wanted to go out and even if we did, I would still not dump my kids off every time I left the house.  I loved our double stroller and so did our kids. I could reach them both while still pushing(as opposed to a tandem where you simply can’t reach the front).

I’m all for a quiet dinner out. But I always give the mom and dad with toddlers  in the booth next to us a knowing smile and the encouragement they need to understand they’re not alone and “this too shall pass.”  Babies and toddlers grow up so fast and no, I don’t think they or we are entitled to go everywhere and do everything. I believe there is a time and a place for outings and most of the time, little ones are happier at home. However, to extract one incident and blow it up into a *double strollers should be banned or left for the dog park* philosophy is overkill and unfair to moms who simply want to have a day out with their family.

You know what’s annoying? The fact that I have pics of my kids in our fantastic double stroller and I can’t find a single one today! So here’s one off the ‘net which is identical to the one we had(except ours was circa 1996 with a brighter blue).  

Tell me-does this look like a threat to the peace and well-being of an afternoon stroll? I didn’t think so!

There Once Was a Baby Who Rolled Off the Bed…

I don’t know why she rolled off that bed….

Seriously though, I would like to share with you one of my most memorable parental fails to date.  It may help this type of thing from happening to you but more than likely it will just remind you that we all have moments that make us want to wear the “guiltiest-looking mother” t-shirt.

One evening when our youngest daughter (hereinto referred to as “Little One”) was about 7 months old she rolled off of our bed.  She was the baby…took her time doing things….hadn’t been very mobile yet…was with her big sister….whatever the reason, I left her there for a brief moment and I shouldn’t have. Continue reading

Instinct, Expectations and Picking Your Battles

I was reading a thread on Facebook today from a well-known author/blogger/speaker.  She had simply stated last night some tough love for her son who wasted time playing a video game even though she asked if he had homework and then “suddenly remembered” at bedtime.  She sent him to bed and told him the consequences were a zero, staying in at recess and reaping the rewards of his forgetfulness.  I did a little cyber *high-five* because that’s pretty much how I parent.  But what followed was nearly 300+ comments from her followers about how she handled it wrong, her son was going to be a delinquent, he was learning to be rewarded for bad behaviour, he was likely to fail in life and a whole host of *advice* about how she could have dealt with it differently.

I am mortified.

First of all, she has 5 kids and this is nothing new to her. It was a small insight into her life which she didn’t need to share but she does regularly because she’s a regular mom like the rest of us, with kids who challenge and she chooses not to enter the battle field sometimes.  A lot of the comments were offensive and most of them were out of line. Continue reading

Lesson #1: Breathe {from Darlene}

So now I’m thinking about interesting memories in Adventures in Motherhood.

My lesson on “Get The Facts First, Panic If Required Later” involves my daughter Laura, who just made it under the wire for turning 5 and attending Kindergarten.  Her birthday is late December, so she was the youngest in her class.  I was endlessly worried about those Big Bad Boys Who Turned Five In January who might bully or influence my precious little one. Continue reading