Growing up, I felt like I was always picking up after my family members (no offense intended dad). Organizing, cleaning, throwing out, wiping down – it seemed like a never ending job.
I moved out of my family home and went to college – where I lived with roommates (no offense intended former roomies) who occasionally needed help with organizing, cleaning, throwing out, wiping down – and it still seemed like a never ending job.
Then I got married and I had the opportunity to feel what it was like to share those responsibilities. It felt so nice to have a “partner in crime” to keep a space clean and tidy.
And then the children came, and the level of “dirty” and my standards of “clean” were (how should I say) modified. Clean became defined as the level of mess tolerable to complete all necessary tasks (such as cooking, eating, bathing, etc.). Dirty became defined as “pooped on,” “spit up on,” “possibly pooped on,” and “possibly spit up on.” This became my new M.O. but I wasn’t happy about it. I’d go through spurts of obsessive cleaning, ignoring the child/children, not eating, not interacting with other 3-dimensional beings, not doing anything but tidying as I moved throughout the house. And then I’d collapse and be unable to do anything for days.
Let me just tell you know… that’s not a sustainable model.
So, here I am – currently a stay at home parent – and in the beginning I had all these preconceived ideas about all the time I’d have without working outside the home. Well, let me be the first to say – I’m not entirely sure where work fit into my life before now. Seriously, managing a home and a toddler all day, and then maintaining the other family members in the mornings evenings and weekends is a full time job (and then some)!
If I spent my days making sure my house was clean, organized, and smelled decent, I would miss out on actually being part of my family. I would miss the walks in the park, the bike rides and the painting, the bubbles and the gardening. I’d miss everything.
And you know what, let’s be honest, those dirty dishes don’t really care if they’re clean.
So I’ve come to accept something (something my dishes accepted a long time ago). No more apologizing for a messy kitchen, or a dirty bathroom (I cringe just typing that). I will clean the kitchen once a day, and the bathroom once a week. Because there are more important things to fill my days with.
So this is fair warning to those who are brave enough to visit – if you come on a day that I don’t clean the bathroom (the one that three boys – one of whom is potty training – use) it may stink and there may be questionable liquids around the sink, and my long black hair all over the floor. And if you come before I get the chance to clean the kitchen, you will smell our compost, and there will be bits of who-knows-what in the sink, on the counters, and likely on the floor.
But please don’t take it to mean you are unwelcome. Rather, consider it a compliment – That I choose time with those I care about over time with dishes (who couldn’t care less about me). Ah, can’t you just feel the love?