Recently, my husband and I finally admitted that we can’t do everything. (Shocking, I know.)
Completely overwhelmed by full-time jobs, two kids who deposit toys, shoes, and occasionally bodily fluids in every corner of our house, and the growing realization that as hard as we will it, the universe will never randomly supply us with more hours in a day, we hired a cleaning lady.
|What? I like him, he licks me. No problem.|
But that’s not really what this post is about. As awesome as it is to walk into the house once every other week and breathe in the aroma of industrial strength cleaner – because yes, the first time she came to clean, she texted me to say that she wasn’t satisfied with my tub and would need to bring something stronger next time – and feel like Ceci can roll around on the living room carpet without collecting a layer of dog hair, let’s be honest: It takes about five minutes for the mess to resurface.
It’s weird; I don’t think I ever used to be anal, but at this point in my life, there’s not a whole lot I can control. I spend my days with hormonal 7th graders and my time away from work with two of the most temperamental people I’ve ever encountered, plus a baby. (Did you catch that one? What a zinger. I got my husband good!) Consequently, I end up focusing a lot of my attention on the mess. Sometimes it feels like if I can put everything back in its proper place, I’ll feel a little bit saner. God knows I don’t feel sane when I walk into my home feeling like an alpaca carrying bags full of school work, lunches, gym clothes, and bottles that need to be washed, plus a baby carrier that weighs about 87 pounds, and I immediately have to get people fed and try to find a place for all of the crap that I just brought into my house.
But anyway. I have spent countless hours wandering around my house trying to clean up, getting distracted in each messy room that I enter, while Maggie tugs at my sleeve asking me to play with her and Ceci tries to eat some unidentifiable item she just found on the floor. And still, even when I know that my kids need me, it’s hard to just let the mess go.
I’m aware enough to know what this whole issue is really about. I realize that my life will probably never be orderly again, if it ever was. I know that I am fighting a losing battle, yet the impulse to clean up never really leaves me. So what is there to do? Feel forever unsatisfied with my environment? Get the cleaning lady to come more often? Once a week? Every day? Would I feel saner then?
|And this is why we don’t use our tupperware for storing food.|
Acceptance, I find, is a difficult step to take, especially when it comes to our own imperfections. I will never be able to do it all. I will always fall short in some respect. But even people in my situation, who often question their soundness of mind, (and I’m talking about parents, in case anyone didn’t pick up on that), have enough sense to ask themselves, “What is going to define me? My failure to vacuum under the kitchen table after my child eats graham crackers, or the way my daughter uses her manners to ask for another bowl of cereal? My inability to keep track of dirty socks, or the fact that I’ve figured out how to get the baby to fall asleep without crying?”
The mess will always be there, but let’s face it, parenthood is a messy business. So what if Ceci’s butt always has a film of dirt on it, since she refuses to crawl and drags her bottom across the floor like a human Swiffer? That’s what we have daily loads of laundry for. So what if there are Maggie-prints on every window in our home? At least she cares about the world outside. It’s sometimes hard to see the mess as a blessing, but when I think about who made it, well, what else would it be?