Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Coming clean, just in case

A fellow babylost mother, who reads this blog but also with whom I share a personal connection, wrote to me last week. You seem so organized, she commented, like the house is always tidy, the laundry is always put away. Your kids go to bed early, and you don't yell, it seems. I laughed out loud, and then the laughter faded to a near guilt sensation, because I feel wretched if this is, indeed, the image I portray. I always make periodic efforts to come clean, with a confession of a really dreadful yelling match, or a moment of truth when I acted really childishly. I think the truth is, the areas in which I often get overwhelmed are just really, really boring: they are the piles of laundry, the mess, the never ending meals and dishes, the meetings to keep track of, and the usual ins and outs of being part of a household. These things are so mundane, and to go into the details of not getting them done is simply whining. I am not, by nature, a complainer, but I do derive incredible satisfaction (don't we all?) when these things actually, miraculously, get accomplished.

And so, when this happens, I post photos like this one, which showcase the areas of my home that have my heart singing with the amazing accomplishment of organization, beauty, and creativity. Here we see the children's art table, where they devote hours to artistic endeavors of all sorts. Here, again, we also see the art table. This is probably what the art table looks like about 70% of the time, due to the fact that the children are always playing at it. Organizing markers by size and type and sorting papers for keeping and recycling sometimes evade them, and in fact the greatest contributor to the perpetual mess is my own lack of organization. I never remember to tell them to stop working five minutes before dinner or we have to leave for school, and so there is no time to clean up. The mess builds, and builds, until we see this:
Ahh, yes. This is home, sweet home. I want to be very clear about this. There is a blogger (not babylost) whom I really admire, and I enjoy reading her writing, but I find that she neglects this side of herself: the one where, because she's so busy sewing beautiful handmade clothes and baking bread, the laundry piles for days and days (or even weeks). She doesn't mention about the times when the laundry baskets are all full, so she has to dump out the laundry on the bedroom floor so she can empty the dryer and switch the loads. It's possible, that despite the beautiful, rosy image, her bedroom also might look like mine does today:
Just like it's possible that the tidy, beautiful craft area that you envision me felting in, and sewing the skirts, and making these amazing appliqued shirts, actually looks like this, and I usually end up doing most of the work on the floor because the table is too messy.
Motherhood is messy work, there's no doubt about it. And I never, ever want to give off the mistaken impression that I do it all: the love, the devotion, the hot breakfast, the tidy house, the folded laundry, and the crafts seamlessly and without compromise. Every day I have to decide what gets done and what doesn't. My children always get fed. I should say no more often to the requests, but a little blond head asking for eggs or french toast on an 11 degree morning almost always gets me pulling out the frying pan. Sometimes I try to do too much, and I end up rushed and crying and wishing I was the mom who put the Cheerios out every day, because that's sensible and there would be no discussions or arguments about what's for breakfast if it were the same thing every day. But it is what it is, and I'm far from perfect, and most importantly I'm still learning how to do this. I'm learning now, and I will be learning 50 years from today (God willing) about how to mother these amazing people in the way that will allow them, and myself, the growth, opportunity, nurture, and unbounding love that they deserve.

So this is it, just making sure, that the singing of the accomplishments, of the beautiful, handmade Christmas, the shining two trees, the joy of parenting these four amazing souls (or should I start to say five?) doesn't have anyone thinking that yesterday I didn't sit in the sunroom and cry for a while because I just felt like everything was too hard. These moments still wash over me, sometimes often, and it's the truth at the base of it all: it is hard, it's always hard, and this is the place where I feel I can stand tall and make the announcements about the good parts.

So hurrah, for the life of this country girl. I do have so much to be grateful for and wondrous about, and I think I love the idea of embracing exactly what this blog presents: that we don't fixate on the piles of laundry or the times we lose our patience with our children. Instead, we should quietly try to accept these parts of ourselves, as humans, and have the focus be on the good parts, on the days when we do feel fluid and joyful. Highly ambitious, but a worthy goal just the same.


Charlotte's Mama said...

And then, I finish up this post and turn on Pandora radio, and the first song that comes on is Ani Difranco's I'm No Heroine.... I love it when things like this happen.

Adelaide's Mom said...

THANK YOU! I too see these "perfect" blogs - ie. Soulemama. Who has 4 kids and pregnant, writes books, knits, and homeschools. I want to see the mess, the tears and the blood.

I just swept up a HUGE ass pile of dog hair. Doing laundry and have to clean out the car. We hit the road tomorrow for Colorado.


Ya Chun said...

I'm usually super proud of myself if I accomplish one chore a day (on top of cooking dinner)!

You're still just a perfect mom - perfectly what your kids need!

My husband reminded me the other day why I stay home - at work I am (was) totally replaceable, but I am the best and only mom Bea has, and I am the only one who can take care of her to my standard, and I am NOT replaceable!

Lara said...

Hooray for the mess madness and tears. It is all so wonderful, except making the lunches everynight. If the school hot lunches weren't so horrible I would make Lily have em everyday. Each day no matter the toil, the mess, the laundry there is at least one and usually so many moments that makes the world light up.
A little 2 1/2 year old patting the empty space on the couch next to her and saying "momma you sit here by me". Santa is definitely coming to your house now!

Charlotte's Mama said...

Rika-- was it that obvious who I was talking about? And Lara, I feel the same way. At Liam's school they even have hot lunch made by an organic cafe across the street-- so it's great food-- but it's the 4.00 price tag that keeps me from it. I hate lunches more than anything! For a treat I buy him a lunch once a week for a month twice a year... whose treat do you think that is?

Kimberly said...

Oh thank God!

I feel so alone when I see blogs about those Mamas who seem to do it all perfectly.

I feel less alone tonight :))