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.
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!!! 🙂