A colorful caterpillar that sings the alphabet. A charming crab that counts to five (in English AND Spanish). A smiling giraffe that shoots plastic balls from its hollow arms. Does this sound like the freakiest cast of characters for the next Child’s Play movie or what? Wrong! These are just three of the items you will most likely trip over if you enter my front door too quickly. One would think, by looking around the main living area, that I was the mother of 12, all under the age of 5. Empty bottles stuck in the couch cushions, half-chewed Gerber bites laying on the coffee table, Baby Einstein on the TV, drool-covered blocks, frozen teethers, blankets caked in spit-up, crusty bibs…you get the idea. I am mother. Hear me roar. And by roar, I mean explain myself.
I was never like this before – ask my husband. I was very put together with everything in its place, a well-made bed, an alphabetized movie collection, an organized junk drawer, and a stylish wardrobe. Then I got pregnant. Laziness and exhaustion set in and, though my bed still got made, my scissors and paper clips started to mingle and Dumb and Dumber ended up neighboring Shawshank Redemption. And this was only the beginning. The baby arrived and the time that was once spent choosing outfits went to matching bottles with nipples. The time that I so fondly dedicated to sorting my sock drawer went to stocking the diaper shelf. Ask me what I did today. Go ahead. Ask me. Who, me? Oh, I have no FREAKING CLUE what I did today. Story of my life. Where do the days go? Obviously not towards dishes or laundry.
Sometimes, I go home to visit my parents and I look around their house. Everything is always so beautiful. The wood floors are always washed, the plants are all alive and blooming, there’s a full roll of toilet paper near the toilet, and doggoneit, their JUNK DRAWER is organized! I’ve been meaning to ask them, since I don’t really recall, “Was it always this way?” I hope to GOD they say no, but I really don’t know. As a kid and a teenager, you’re more focused on friends, food, and boys than you are the appearance of the shower tiles. Now, as a mother myself, I start conversations with, “Ooo, what lovely shower tiles.” Yes, life as I know it has changed forever.
The fact of the matter is this: my house is still livable. It’s actually cleaner than most of my friends’ houses. But, in my harsh and critical eyes, it’s falling apart at the seams. I’ve debated dimming the lights to hide the dust or stock piling the dirty dishes in the rarely-used oven to give the kitchen the appearance of tidy and neat, but what’s the point really? A day after the clothes get put away, there’s just going to be more clothes to wash.
I remember reading in one of my books that there is no such thing as Super Mom. Life consists of three main balancing acts: Family. Work. House. The book said that no mother can perfect all three of these items, so she needs to be OK with letting one “fall by the wayside” for a little while. I read it and laughed. In my mind, I would go to work and work hard, come home to family and play hard, then end the night cleaning – um, hard? I couldn’t do it. To give 100% to everything IS impossible. I have retired my cape as a wardrobe staple and instead use it to dust the coffee table once a month or assist in a baby blowout wipe-down. I have decided that I would much rather give my all to my family and I try to give my remaining all to my job (they DO pay the bills, ya know), and I am happy with that decision.
Readjusting my expectations has been difficult and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only mother who has gone through this process, but I wouldn’t want it any other way. A house is just a house and will be there standing strong for you when you get home at night. It keeps your family safe and warm. It encapsulates all the love and memories that are built within it. And, it doesn’t give ya lip! So, come on over. Trip on our toys. Maze your way around the bouncer chair, the exersaucer and the coffee table. Have a seat on my couch (don’t sit on a bottle cap – you’ll feel THAT in the morning). And let’s make some memories in this mess of a house that I now call a home.