And then our first son came along, who looking back I am pretty sure had undiagnosed reflux which led to practically no sleep his first thirteen months of life. The self-imposed expectations I had put on myself led to feelings of anxiety and failure. Coupled with being a first-time mom, I questioned everything I was doing – if it was the right decision or not, was I spending enough time with him, was the house clean enough for guests to stop by, etc etc etc. Sound familiar?!
MY GRANNY ALWAYS SAID
My Granny has always been the first to tell me that “a perfectly kept house is a sign of a misspent life”, and after successfully raising four children of her own and creating endless memories with them, I try to abide by this advice.
But I remember struggling with this sentiment (still do) and feeling like I needed to have a perfectly kept house, just in case someone dropped by unexpectedly. And if I DID know someone was coming over, I cleaned the house from top to bottom. Until I ran out of time one day before we were leaving town and leaving our son with my mother in law and my parents, who were going to hang out together for the weekend to watch him. I remember getting very agitated over the ‘dirty’ house, but there just wasn’t time to clean and make it to our destination on time, so off we went.
It was the first time I would be away from him for more than 24 hours, which contributed to my anxiousness prior to our departure. Once we were on the road, though, I breathed a sigh of relief and looked forward to a couple of days away to unwind and hit the reset button … and get a full night of uninterrupted sleep. It was GLORIOUS!
BACK TO REALITY
Upon arriving home from our weekend trip, we walked into a spotless house. Vacuumed, dusted, dinner waiting on the table, even the inside of the refrigerator was wiped down. Although I was extremely grateful, it also set me into a downward spiral with feelings of inadequacy.
My husband kept telling me that we were doing our best for this season of our life. I was doing my best … but my best just didn’t feel good enough.
The truth was, I was getting tired. When I did have a few extra hours on a weekend or during the day, I wanted to spend it hanging out with our son – not cleaning the house or doing laundry. And that started to feel okay.
THIS IS JUST A SEASON
Over the years I have given myself more grace and have continued to remind myself of my Granny’s advice. Something so simple but that advice is what gets me through the days when I look at the piles of laundry, the coat of dust that lines the furniture, the dirty dishes in the sink. I always joke to my friends that if the main part of my house looks clean, don’t dare walk into my bedroom or open the cabinet doors!
One day I am sure my house will be clean for longer than 20 minutes, but I know I will long for these days of the daily chaos, laughter, and sound of little feet running through the house.
So next time you are feeling this way, know that you are doing your best, mama, and you’re not alone.