Just the other day I was chatting with another mother of toddlers whom I greatly admire. She, like me, gave birth to her third little one last year, and this Mama was describing her interior struggles with keeping up her home and caring for her family with a new baby in the house.
“My house is FALLING APART,” she lamented. “I’m pretty much always feeling like a failure. I just can’t keep up with everything!”
I had absolutely no idea what she was talking about because I’ve never felt like that ever. (Ha!)
Truth is, the other mom’s words bothered me for days. I couldn’t stop thinking of her feelings of failure. Because if you asked me to name the mom I admire the most, or the mom whose house seems the most perfectly in order, I’m pretty darn sure I would’ve spoken the name of this mother. Of all the mothers I know, she always appears to “have it all together.”
Then I began to examine my own self-deprecating feelings of defeat. I, too, often feel like my house is a wreck, the food I cook is boring, and that I’m totally failing at this SAHM job. And yet, when others come to my home they never seem to judge it as harshly as I do. The two Jehovah’s Witness ladies who knocked on my door just told me that my house looks like an HGTV model home. (I think they need new eyewear, but it was nice to hear just the same). And a friend who came to visit last month said, as she reached the landing at the top of my staircase “Don’t you just love having company over for the chance to clean everything? It looks so nice here!” My friend’s comment totally caught me off guard because I hadn’t cleaned my upstairs at all before she came over – it usually looks like it did when she saw it.
These experiences got me thinking: perhaps just as I couldn’t understand my friend’s outburst of failure-feelings, maybe my own feelings of failure in taking care of my home are received with the same measure of “YOU failing at motherhood? yeah right!”
Maybe all of us mothers are tempted with these ugly feelings of failure. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the mental pile of “to dos”, especially when the bulk of your day is spent just keeping toddlers happy and out of trouble and little babies’ bellies fed.
I’ve been trying to dig deeper and figure out the WHY of my feelings: what’s the “real source” of why I feel so overwhelmed and behind and failure-ish all the time?
I realized that there were two things that really REALLY were bugging me about the upkeep of my home, and that these two things were triggering my emotions.
The first was the thick layer of dust on all of my ceiling fans. Because I spend a great deal of the day sitting down feeding my baby, I’m constantly looking up at a thick gray layer of grossness on the ceiling fans in each room. Which haven’t been cleaned since we moved into this house. Ick.
The second thorn in my side is my master bathroom shower. For whatever reason it’s always the last thing on my cleaning to do list and so it pretty much never gets done. Until there’s a nice thick circle of black mold growing over the tiles. Double ick.
I realize that in my home and with my family I have to put certain things first and certain things are going to wait a loooooong time to get done, but this week, I’ve decided to commit to cleaning just those two things in my house: the fans and my shower. I know it’s going to make me feel so much better to get those two wicked tasks done.
And next week – I’m sure there’ll be ten thousand other things bugging me about my household chores that never get done. And that’s life and that’s okay.
I’ll plan to pick just two things that I can clean and check off my list. And I think it’s really going to help me feel like I’ve made some progress, and that my job is a success.
We can’t do it all, moms. None of us can. But I think we can all do just two things.
….And feel a whole heckuva lot better about everything.