When I became a mother, I expected myself to keep a “perfect” house. I wanted hospital corners on the bed, dustless baseboards, and shiny floors. Even though I worked full time, I expected myself to pull it off… delegating some of the lighter duties to my husband and staying up late to finish the more difficult chores. My house wasn’t perfect, but I kept it close.
But then I became a single mom… and all hell broke loose.
When I first became a single, working outside the home mom, all the dust and clutter really bothered me. I thought it said a lot about who I am, what I do, and the kind of mother I couldn’t possibly be if I couldn’t keep a spotless house while working full time and parenting by myself. I worked so long and so hard at presenting a specific face to the world… a face that says, “I may be a single working outside the home mom, but I can still do everything I did as a married working outside the home mom, which was everything that a married working INSIDE the home could do.”
Oh how I tried. But no matter how I scrubbed and bleached, the spots and stains just kept creeping back. The glass doors and windows were streaked with dog noses and little boy fingers. There were fluffy dust and dog hair bunnies tucked into corners and inexplicably, jars full of something very sticky kept turning over in the refrigerator door. Try as I might, I just couldn’t keep it all clean.
And I blamed myself… blamed my ineptitude for housework, my inability to prioritize, my insufficiency at any and all things Martha Stewart-esque. I worked twice as hard, cleaned twice as much, and slaved away until the wee hours of the morning only to find that no matter how much I cleaned, there was always more to be done.
I was working my ass off just to be able to say I was keeping a clean house and you know who didn’t care one bit about that? My son. The one person who mattered most could not have cared less if there were crumbs on the floor so long as I was on the floor racing cars with him.
Maybe embracing the mess around here makes me more disgusting. Maybe it makes my house more prone to receiving the one eyebrow raise from Mrs. Fancy Pants from down the street. Maybe I’ve had to kill a few extra bugs and maybe I shouldn’t actually say that out loud. Damn. Too late.
But you know what’s an absolute certainty? I don’t care any more and J never did. And we’re having a lot more fun with a lot less stress now that Mommy’s stopped wearing kid gloves to test the dust levels. You know why? Because it’s impossible to do everything in 14 hours that another woman does in 24… with or without back up. It’s flat. out. impossible. And trying to do it will just leave you stressed and horrified with your inability to do what quite simply can’t be done. Trust me.
Besides, as much as I love a bald man, at the end of the day, I’d rather have my 14 leftover hours with J, not Mr. Clean.