Monday, July 2, 2012

Perfect Home = Perfect Family?

Is a perfect home the measure of a perfect parent?  Does a messy house = failing to provide for my family?  How did I even come to have this standard of success?

As much as I am constantly trying to battle the perception that my size determines much of my worth, I have come to realize that I am constantly coming up short when I continue to measure my worth as a mom by the perfection of my house.  Basically, I am lazy.  I own it.  I would rather relax than mop, rather cuddle with my wee ones than dust and rather nap than fold laundry.  Yes, clutter and unfolded laundry makes me crazy, but when Elliott says from the couch, "Mommy, will you sit wif me?," I briefly weighed my options and found those three year-old cuddles won the prize.

I'm not sure how I fell into the trap of measuring my ability to be a grown-up by the status of my laundry baskets, but I'm trying to cut myself a break.  Instead of choosing to ignore chores and then feel overwhelming guilt and disappointment in myself over what is left undone, I am vowing to try and accept this as a phase of particular busyness, when the moments of a full-time working mom devoting full attention to child-raising are precious and certainly more important than a perfectly decorated house, cleaning up Laundry Table (yes, this matches Laundry Chair at my sister's house) and even folding the never ending river of laundry.

I have to tackle this challenge.  To be real with myself and with my family.  It seems certain to me that it is incongruent to match my ability to parent with my ability to keep a tidy home.  Love & tidiness aren't hopelessly intertwined, right?  I can only bet that my children would rather live in a cluttered home with parents who choose to let chores go undone in order to give them more time, rather than parents always focused on the appearance of a home.  Maybe this is finding ways to endorse my laziness & procrastination. But maybe, just maybe, this is allowing myself to own the challenges of having a full-time job outside the home along with the hardest, most important job around--Mom, while still trying to carve time for relaxation, a marriage and a wee bit of social life.

Now where's that remote?. . . .


Small Ferrell said...

I know exactly where we learned to measure ourselves; our own mothers! I say it all the time...I will never measure up to her. She raised six children, had a full-time job, grew prize winning roses, made our breakfasts, packed our lunches, made us dinner every night but Fridays and had a house so clean you could literally eat off the floors, walls or ceilings without a worry of germs. I look around my own home and yard and just pretend that this is the new standard. As my sister-in-law claims, a clean home is the sign of a boring woman. While there is nothing boring about my mother, I choose to apply that rationale to myself. You should, too.

Anonymous said...

When I read this, though I like the idea of embracing time with your children, it feels like there is no middle ground mentioned here. It is very possible to have a picked up house and have plenty of time with your children--even while working full time.

To say that children prefer a cluttered home also insinuates that parents who clean more regularly are not spending enough time with their children. Perhaps they just have a different style of organization/getting things done that it doesn't feel so hard to do both.

So, to each their own, but we all have our own comfort levels when it comes to the cleanliness of our homes. And it seems like it would feel better to simply fully embrace yours without stating a negative towards those that feel differently. I realize this is a blog, not a message board, but it just hit me in a strange way.