I can not tell you how sick I am of hearing that my house doesn't need to be clean because my child will be happy.
My MIL went so far as to frame up a poem for me to put in the nursery to remind me. I have to admit I was a bit offended. I take pride in my house and presenting a clean house to guests.
Song for a Fifth Child
by Ruth Hulburt Hamilton
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 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).
The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
For children grow up, as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep.
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.
But here is what I learned this weekend. There is another camp that says you have to continue to put yourself as a priority in order to be a good mother. You can't be so self sacrificing that you slip away. So I joined weight watchers but haven't quite figured out working exercise in but I'm getting there. This weekend my Mom babysat while I worked outside. Guess what? It felt amazing.
I ENJOYED mowing my yard instead of paying someone to do it. I ENJOYED hand weeding my terrace flowerbed and hefting on the sprayer backpack to spray the weeds and poison ivy around the yard. I ENJOYED hoeing and planting three rows of green beans in my garden. I ENJOYED lugging the big grill out and using it to cook steaks for the first time in 2011.
I came in three or four times to wash up and feed my child and my mom got to spend a ton of time with her grandson. I was sore and sunburnt at the end of the day but I felt accomplished. You know what else? My child was happy. He spent time snuggling his grandma and his mom got a good workout doing something she loves.
So I've come to the conclusion that SO WHAT if I choose to clean while my child naps in his swing. So WHAT if I as he gets older I let him play quietly with his toys on the floor while I dust. SO WHAT if I strap him in the carrier to my chest and chop vegetables for dinner and sweep my floors while singing to him. Those few hours total a week that I am not paying him complete attention make ME a happier more sane person so I don't have guilt or wandering mind while I DO play with him.
We don't always have a choice of spending time away from our children. I HAVE to go back to work and I'm sick of people trying to make me feel guilty about it. YOU made your choice and sacrifices and you have your complaints. I'm making mine. It's important to me to be able to afford to take family vacations, have him in activities like Boy Scouts, Soccer and Martial ARts. It's Important that we can build him a giant play ground in our backyard and open our swimming pool every summer for him to play. It's important that we can afford a pony or two to fill our empty barn and pasture when he is older so he can learn to ride and terrorize the neighborhood on horseback with his cousin Aidan next door. It's IMPORTANT that we can put him in private school if that is what we choose. RIGHT NOW its important that we can pay our bills and put a new roof on our house and that requires me working. My sanity and mental health requires me to clean my house and weed my flower bed while my sweet boy gets some one on one time with another human who loves and adores him for a few hours or a chance to explore his imagination or snooze.
NONE of these things makes me a bad person because I choose to make them priorities. You can not spend every single moment with your child. It's virtually impossible and i'm not sure it would be healthy for them anyway. Can we say CO-Dependence and therapy?
So I have learned a little lesson about me and I'm comfortable with my choice. So people can take their cutesy messy house signs, demeaning poems and shove them up their ass. I CHOOSE to be supermom: Play with my well adjusted and loved child, provide for him more than the basics, and have a mostly clean house.
The only sign I approve of is:
And because that is so true, I will not apologize for my occasionally messy house but neither will I apologize for constantly stealing a moment to clean something.