My definition of 'clean' has changed over the years. There was a time where I would have thought 'clean' meant clean. Now, I define it as: "an area where you can see some carpet and most of the trash is in a can"
Case and point: this past weekend my kids took a container of sprinkles and a bag of mini chocolate chips and dumped them on the floor in their room. Just 'cause.
Day one: I didn't see it because I never made it out of the kitchen. Feeding six people three meals a day and intermittent snacks is literally a full time job.
Day two: I saw it and made a mental note to clean it up. But, I never made it out of the kitchen. Reference previous day.
Day three: I left it there, on purpose, hoping they would eat, I mean, clean it off the floor and I wouldn't have to vacuum. It is moments like these where I think about getting a dog. Apparently, this was the one time they opted out of sugar. Probably because they didn't want to be mistaken for cleaning their rooms.
Day four: I caved and vacuumed. Mostly because I am afraid of mice. Otherwise, I am pretty sure it would still be there.
I am not necessarily proud of this scenario, but it happened. In these instances I find myself reciting one of my absolute favorite poems : Song for a Fifth Child (Babies Don't Keep). If you have not had the pleasure of reading it, here it is:
Mother, oh mother, come shake out your cloth!
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
Hang out the washing and butter the bread,
Sew on a button and make up a bed.
Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She's up in the nursery, blissfully rocking!
Oh, I've grown as shiftless as Little Boy Blue
(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby, loo).
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
(Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo).
The shopping's not done and there's nothing for stew
And out in the yard there's a hullabaloo
But I'm playing Kanga and this is my Roo.
Look! Aren't her eyes the most wonderful hue?
(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo.)
Oh, cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
But children grow up, as I've learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust, go to sleep.
I'm rocking my baby. Bab
The words are beautiful. The concept is alluring. I am sure Ruth Hulbert Hamilton meant well with her poem. But I've come to realize: a new brand of mommy guilt has been born. Now, when I opt to provide the luxury of eating on clean dishes, I curse myself for not lounging on the couch snuggling my babies.
The notion of letting the world pass you by while you breathe in every little bit of your babies is wonderful. It is also impossible. Because, evidently, if you do not pay your bills, they start taking your stuff away. The bitter truth is there is work to be done. And not just housework.
My official title is probably maid, but I am also a wife. There's this guy I kinda like, AKA, the love of my life. fourteen years ago I married him and I don't want moments with him to slip by either. So, in between loads of laundry and reading to my babies, I want to nurture my marriage.
And then, to top it off, there's this whole self nurturing concept. Momma getting in yoga and coffee is detrimental to not only my health, but also my family's sanity. Momma ain't pretty when she is coffee-less and stressed.
How do I know?
Because self nurturing usually falls to the last rung on my ladder.
I savor the sound of my babies babbling, soak in the intoxicating smell of their sweet baby breath, memorize the cuteness of their little fingers and toes, record the sounds of their toddler voices in my mind for future replay, pause for snuggles and playtime and listen earnestly to their 6 and 8 year old knock- knock jokes.
Seriously, they are funny.
I look forward to the sound of my husband's truck pulling into the driveway and anxiously await his after work calls. I love my twenty minutes of yoga before sunrise and one of these days I will get through a cup of coffee without having to reheat it a dozen times. I am not sure if it is enough. But, it is time to make it enough.
The bottom line is life is fleeting. You can't grasp it and the more you try the faster it slips through your fingers. Take care of business, whatever that looks like.
Keep your house off the Febreeze commercials. Remember your life partner. Don't forget the kids. Care for yourself. I would say, if you got that covered, you are doing pretty good.