Being a mom for five and a half years now has taught me a few things.
This may sound silly to some, but the biggest thing it’s taught me (aside from how to live with my heart running around outside my body of course) is how to run a household. That sounds like such a… I don’t know. Stupid thing to have learned? But I think that if you believe that running a household is no big deal, then you have no idea what you’re talking about.
(That kind of rationale works, right? If someone disagrees with me, they’re dumb?)
Seriously, though, I don’t have a house cleaner (YET. The countdown is on and next promotion that Steve gets IT IS HAPPENING) and I do
freakin everything most of the work around the house. Aside from the hanging doors and snow clearing that Steve does (among other things and I don’t mean for this to minimize his imputs), when it comes to day-to-day stuff around here, it’s on me. That includes garbage and recycling, cleaning, laundry and cooking (on days when Steve’s at work). No big deal, right? There was a point when it was enough to bring me to tears.
I guess because it’s all so much and all so continuous and no one gives you a yearly bonus or raise or even a required by law lunch break.
Anyway, partly because they’re older and are capable of playing in a different area of the house than me unsupervised without a very high likelihood of killing themselves, but partly just because I’ve gotten used to it. My mom told me this would happen, when I bemoaned about it to her years ago. “You just get used to it and it becomes less exhausting,” she said. And at the time, it sounded like such a dreary answer because basically, that means that you just have to suck it up and do it. And you do just have to suck it up and do it, which is part of what makes it so hard because honestly, while there’s nothing wrong with Cheerios and raw veggies with dip for dinner, children do eventually require cleaning and clean clothes.
I tried cleaning in different ways: one task per day (dusting on Monday! Bathrooms on Tuesday! etc) and while that worked for a while, and worked when the kids were young because I didn’t really have two hours at a time to spend cleaning, eventually I both got tired of cleaning every single day and missed that day and a half of bliss that you get after you gut the house before it gets messy again.
I’m back now to once
a week every two weeks, and I’m ok with that. Toilets and… stuff gets cleaned proper at least once every two weeks. Vaccuuming happens when it needs to/can. Dusting probably once a month. But the tidying happens daily or at least every other day.
It helps to stay on top of it, laundry is still my biggest downfall (three blissful laundry free days = the rest of the week catching up).
I guess though, that what I’ve realized, is that all of this (most of the time, anyway), doesn’t really bring me down anymore. I cook and feed and clean and study and it’s just… the way, you know? Some days I’m wired and some days I’m utterly exhausted and most days fall somewhere in between those two extremes. I had planned on mopping today, but my longish run this morning kicked my butt, so I scrapped those plans and made muffins and then rested on the couch for half an hour while the girls’ played dollies.
More importantly than not seeing it as a burden anymore, I also realize that it’s ok. It’s all going to be ok. I do what I can, and I usually do my best. My kids never go hungry or cold or to bed without a story. There’s no one casting stones at me regarding the amount of dust on the picture frames on my mantle and on the day when I meet my maker, the number of times my bathroom smelled like pee will not come into question.
It’s hard when kids are babies. They are wonderful and special and amazing, but it’s hard. And it wasn’t even until I got away from it that I realized how difficult it had been. They were heavy (figuratively), I carried them everywhere. I used to think about Steve dying and leaving us, and I concluded that I would never love another man. Because who would want me with all this baggage? And yesterday, as I thought about my children and my dog and my home and my life, I realized that if Steve died and left us, I may never love another man. Not because another man couldn’t handle my baggage though, but because I don’t know that I’d be willing to share this gift – of raising them, of knowing them, of caring for them, of opening my heart to learn from them – with anyone else.
And I think that maybe that has made all the difference.