Y’all, as a mom of two kids under 3 who also has not one, not two, but three jobs and a husband and a house to take care of, in addition to all of those other duties like bills and parents and extended family, I feel this post down to the bottom of my soul.
I never sit down during the day. I’m playing with my kids, I’m cleaning up after my kids, I’m trying to get some laundry in or sweep the floor or maybe clear off one of the three counters in our house that are always piled with crap.
I’m pulling the baby off the table, chasing the 3yo down when he steals the silverware holder as I’m attempting to empty the dishwasher, I’m working while they nap, and yes, I’m also unapologetically putting my kids first during all of this. They get the attention, we go on outings, and if they need a snuggle, they get one.
So, no matter how I’m always doing something at home, the house is not usually tidy. Or clean. Or both.
I’ve heard about it from my mother for years, and this is what I tell her: I’m doing my best.
It’s not good enough, I guess, but it’s what I can do and still sleep at night, feeling like I’ve been the best mother I can be today.
Which is all to say that I can totally relate to Casey Huff, the mom who wrote this piece.
I cleaned all day today.
We’re hosting a family birthday party tomorrow and I wanted the place to look presentable.
I folded laundry and washed dishes and picked up mismatched socks and stray LEGOs. I swept up scrambled eggs from breakfast and chicken nuggets from lunch.
I helped my oldest son organize the crayons in his art set and my youngest son put away the rubber food that goes to his play kitchen.
I barely sat down, and I’m pretty sure the afternoon cup of coffee I was looking forward to is still sitting on the Keurig tray.
But despite my efforts and the efforts of my kids (yes, I do require them to help), my house still looks like this.
No, this is not a “before” photo. It is a right now photo after the hours I spent cleaning—and I just want to say this about it:
If you walk into a home that looks like this, don’t assume someone hasn’t been working her (or his) tail off to keep the place inhabitable.
Don’t assume a cleaning schedule needs to be put in place, or that better habits need to be maintained.
Don’t assume no one cares.
Instead, you can safely assume someone probably feels defeated and a bit like she’s failing.
You can assume she’s overwhelmed. Frustrated. Hopeless to the point where she’s considered burning the place down and starting over somewhere new.
You can assume she’s tired. Soooo dang tired.
You can assume she has a ton on her plate. That between her marriage, children, friendships, career, and house, something will inevitably be neglected–and she’s not going to let that something be her family.
You can assume she’s trying really, really hard, but the force of life is more powerful than she is right now.When you walk into a house that looks like this, comment on the sweetly scribbled artwork hanging on the refrigerator. Tell her you love how her house feels full of life. Tell her you’re grateful she welcomed you into her home. Then offer to watch her kids for a day so she can clean without tiny tornadoes following closely behind (Kidding… Sort of.).
Mostly, just tell her she’s doing a good job.
Because truthfully? The fact is she’s probably been cleaning all day.
I believe her when she says she’s always cleaning, because so am I. It’s a full-time job just to clean the kitchen and sweep the floors and wipe the counters and table and high chairs three times a day (plus snacks).
So, give your friends with little kids and a bunch of other responsibilities a break. We’re doing our best, on all fronts, and as for me, I make no apologies about putting my husband and kids first.
My friends (if they’re really friends) won’t mind the clutter of a mom who’s trying.
I know I don’t.