I spend many hours every day picking up my house and trying to achieve a sort of perfection that will make me feel good about myself and my home. I will admit, even though it may not paint me in the best maternal light, most days I would rather clean up my house and organize than color another Cinderella or Darth Vader picture, or do puzzles with my kids.
At the same time, I do resent having to do so much picking up. Sometimes I feel like I am on the hamster wheel of cleaning. Each time I accomplish my goal of picking the house up to my satisfaction somebody makes a mess, or it’s time to clean up after another meal. I mumble and grumble under my breath that I am the only person in the house that picks up after myself. With this said, I do expect that my house will never look exactly the way I would like it to look. But when it gets too cluttered I feel exacerbated and grumpy.
Always in the back of my mind I think about something my mom wrote in a book that was given to me at my baby shower when I was pregnant with Ava eight years ago now. It was called “Women’s Words of Wisdom for Megan”. It is a compilation of advice and wisdom, or just words of encouragement from all of the wonderful women in my life. I remember my mom wrote a lot of great things, but one of the things was that housework can wait. It is more important to spend that quality time with our kids. I have always remembered this because it came from my own mom whom I love and respect, and because I knew at the time I read it that those particular words of wisdom would be difficult for me to achieve. My mom had four wonderful words of advice stemming from her own experiences and her desires for me as a mother. They were:
1. Slow down and savor every minute [with your child]
2. Relax – worrying changes nothing and prevents you from enjoying the moment
3. The cleaning will be there tomorrow but that perfect, tranquil moment with your child will never be that perfect again. Stop and enjoy it.
4. Encourage, nurture, guide your child and teach them respect for themselves, you, family, friends and the world. Everything else will take care of itself.
As I took a moment for myself today I read each of the passages from my friends and family and found some real gems and some advice that made me laugh out loud. For example, one family friends said that we should enjoy our kids but make sure Sage doesn’t get left out. First of all, if I had any idea I would have Ava as a first child, and then birth triplets, I would have never gotten a dog. Let me repeat, NEVER. Secondly, I read these words on a day when I am feeling desperate to not have a dog. Sage woke me up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. Not ok. Then this morning I realized that she had slept on my couch all night, and that she does that every night, and there was a layer of white dog hair about an inch thick on my very nice Crate & Barrel couch. I cried in the shower over my dog today. I shed tears over why I have to deal with a ill-mannered dog on top of four children. So when I read that piece of advice later in the day I did find it simply amusing.
All of my mom’s advice is very good. I strive to relax, encourage, nurture, guide and teach my children every day. Yet, I do have an issue with the cleaning. I am sure that I spend far too much time each day picking up the house when I could be spending quality time with my children since they are indeed growing up too fast like everyone always says.
At the same time, I do spend a plethora of time accommodating my children. I take them to parks and on playdates little trips. We scooter, we bike ride and in the summer we swim. They go to a wonderful schools where they are loved and learning social and academic tools for their future. I kiss them and hug them and tell them how much I love them many times each day.
I have given this quite a bit of thought and have decided that just because I like to spend time making sure my house is picked up and neat and clean doesn’t mean I am failing as a mother. It is my personality to be tidy. If things weren’t tidy I would be a grumpy mommy. I also think it is important that while I clean, my children are learning the skill of self-entertaining; playing with each other and entertaining each other. When Ava was little and an only child I fell into the trap of being her all-day playmate and I was miserable. I specifically remember being up at 5:30am doing puzzles with Ava.
As I read the Women’s Words of Wisdom today it brought so many smiles to my face. The powerful words of women, and the even more powerful words of mothers, is impressive and enlightening. If I were to write a passage in a book to a pregnant mother I may say:
Being a mother brings the most powerful forces of personality and emotion from your core being. A mother knows the depth of feeling and how far love can go. A mother can be pulled in every direction and still find love and success. A mother must learn when to find more time with our children, and when to nurture ourselves and our relationship with our spouse. There is absolutely nothing more selfless in the world than a compassionate mother.
Until next time, the mothership is signing off.