You know that awesome feeling you get at the end of the day when your house is sparkling, your dinner is cooked, your kids are showered, fed and happy, and you’re looking pretty in a fresh outfit? Yeah, me neither. It’s terrible, I know but on any one day I will be able to manage about two out of those four tasks. It’s especially infuriating that I’m at home because I know if any one of those alpha-female, super mom types (you know they exist) walked in, they might wonder what it is I’m up to all day.
I often wish I was like my mother. She had three children and her house was always clean, her food was always cooked and she was always so pleasant to my dad. I have two kids. My house is not dirty exactly, no … but it is messy. My fridge is sometimes empty of food. And I am too often the exact opposite of pleasant to Hums.
I know that if I waste less time surfing on the net, things may improve. My laundry basket is always overflowing. It’s not dirty clothes. No, no, it’s just clean, washed clothes I haven’t gotten around to putting away. So we spend entire weeks just picking our necessaries right out of there. During the day, the kids and I sit on the floor and eat because I just can’t bring myself to set the table. I totally forget to brush Beta’s teeth some nights. Except by ‘forget’, I actually mean that I think about it once I’ve laid down, and I look longingly towards the bathroom as if I could somehow will the brush to magically come to me and then I close my eyes and pretend to sleep.And he eats too much chocolate. How much is too much, you ask? Well, it’s one of those things that you can’t define it but you know it when you see it and man oh man, but he eats too much chocolate. Which makes the not brushing of the teeth worse.There’s a little hook sitting on my kitchen counter, waiting to be fixed on to a picture frame. It’s been there for three months. Right next to the dried roses I’ve been meaning to stick artistically in a jar for the past two weeks.
Hums asks for an evening snack and I have to announce “We’re fresh out of snacks. And dinner. And breakfast too. On the bright side, I found a wilted bag of spinach, way at the back that I knew I had purchased but couldn’t find when I was looking for it!”
Every few days, I look around me and muse: What will I wish I had done better? How much will it matter, that overflowing laundry basket, those times I offer Beta a box of cookies so I can work on an article? Or let Beti experimentally bring my Crocs to her mouth, because hey, at least she’s playing by herself? Will my kids ever grow up and think: I wish I was like my mom?
For me, this has been the great refining, defining, anguish of motherhood: to accept my imperfections. To allow myself the flexibility of being great some days and just okay on others. To love myself anyway. To trust that those who love me should love me anyway. Because when I remember to, despite everything, I laugh at everything, and celebrate the flaws, flukes, and follies that make up my life, my beautiful, beautiful life, then Hums and the kids laugh with me. Before I know it, we’re in a giggling heap on the floor, right in the middle of the cookie crumbs from yesterday that I didn’t sweep up. That’s when I remember that I may not be like my mother, but I am still pretty cool. I make awesome roast chicken. I throw Hums great birthdays. I’ve sat for hours in a bedsheet tent house with the kids. I tell good jokes (at least I think so). And so, yeah, if I’m on the floor, I think I’m in the right place … knee deep in crumbs and gratitude.
Published in The Express Tribune, Ms T, July 29th, 2012.