Friday, May 11, 2012

Musings of a Mother With a Dirty House

     This is my official declaration stating why the house is never clean when Cory gets home.  That way, if he ever decides to make a comment about his abode in disarray, I can lovingly shout,  "Read the blog!".  No, really, it's important to gather my thoughts on this subject and write them down in a memorable way so as to remind myself, when I get frazzled about cleaning, why I seldom pick up the mop or swing the broom.  I'm sure many moms can relate to this, and if you can't, well shut it.  I will only accept comments such as, "You are sooooo right!" and "Brilliant! Just brilliant!".  Because I'm the dictator here at Poops and Poodles, so if you don't fall in line and agree with me on this, you are not a welcome member of this community-- in a loving way, and all.
     See, when I used to daydream about getting married and having a family, the completely idiotic musings went something like this: I would picture my cute little kids (usually about four of them) in cute little outfits playing so cutely together while I looked downright amazing in some trendy outfit giggling over the stove, preparing some gourmet meal to make anyone with a mouth count down the minutes until dinnertime.  It was all vague, you know, I didn't go crazy overboard with the fantasies, just imagined what having four kids would look like.  And, well, you seldom daydream about nightmares and I never pictured horrible tantrums and getting hit in the face with flying food.  I conveniently left out diaper rashes and burned beans, too.  Isn't this proof that I'm a ridiculously optimistic person?  Of course it is.  And when I pictured me playing with these super cute kids, the house was always very clean, except for the errant toys we had just played with because you don't want your house to look un-lived in, for Pete's sake.  The great thing is, I think I subconsciously told myself that the house was clean in all of these dreamings because I had cleaned it.  I never saw a maid, so I must have cleaned it.  I gave myself a lot of credit.
     So, due to the fact that I at one time imagined what life would be like being married with several kids, I set the bar stupidly high for myself.  I thought this would be....easier.  And it's so not.  SO not.  When we found out I was pregnant with James, I quit working and became a stay-at-home mom.  And I love it, even while I'm having my weekly meltdown.  But here's the thing, I thought staying at home would help in the cleanliness department.  I thought, "Well, gee, if only I could be home all day then I would have time to mop and dust and fold the millions of shirts we seem to have..." and, once again, I thought wrong.  Because it dawned on me, about three weeks in, that I was a stay-at-home MOM, like, there are people here with me all day.  Incredibly needy and dirty people, I might add.  Now, I realize you would have to be a stay-at-home WIFE if you want the house clean.  Hubby runs off to work and you clean the baseboards.  See, that would work.  But it's not the deal-e-o right now.  No, I have two little friends who accompany on nearly all of my daily chores.  I call them Dirty and his pal, Filthy.  Or Cowboy and Sassafras:

    And here's what cleaning up looks like with Cowboy and Sassafras:
- I try and clean the dishes around mid-morning, when I've finally gotten over the trauma of waking up and fixing breakfast with Cowboy acting like he hasn't eaten since the Alamo.  This is not so bad when Mr. Big Stuff is here to help.  But, you know, he leaves to go to work and I'm left at the barn with my friends.  So, I start to clean up and they suddenly are hit with an INSANE desire for a snack.  I try and resist but it always gets worse if you fight it.  Cowboy comes over and starts rummaging through the silverware (and its always the knives he goes for first), Sassafras sees a sippy cup and it reminds her she hasn't had anything to drink in hours, Cowboy climbs on top of the open dishwasher door and starts jumping up and down and I resist the urge to take the spray on the faucet and hose them out of the kitchen-- because then you're looking at MORE work. So I give up doing dishes.
-I head to the playroom and start picking up the mess that always is.   Cowboy and Sassafras follow and realize it is light years more fun to play in the play room when I'm in there.  So it becomes a game of trying to pick up faster than they can take out- but, let me remind you, there are two of them and one of me.  This never works.  Plus, they take out toys in a frenzy.  It takes time to sort through the mess and put it back in its correct spot.  I tell Sassafras she better help me clean up the playroom or she won't get to watch a show before her nap.  This sounds like it would work.  But it doesn't.  Because she gets in clean up mode and her clean up mode is INTENSE.  And she gets herself all worked up because Cowboy continues to ruin the playroom and she thinks this will infringe upon her TV watching capabilities, even though I've tried to explain a gazillion times that it doesn't matter what he's doing.  So it seems to always end with Sassafras knocking Cowboy down with the swing of a bat, or Dora, or his truck, or whatever she can reach and is strong enough to use as a weapon.  So I end up with a hysterical Cowboy with a welt on his head and a hysterical Sassafras who laments the loss of her TV show and a time-out.  This is just wonderful and puts everybody in a good mood.
-So then I try laundry.  Sassafras loves to fold washcloths and feels like a "mommy" when she helps me, which I love.  The only problem? Cowboy apparently likes to fold washcloths, too.  So I give them their own sets of washcloths to fold but Cowboy won't accept this and inevitably reaches for Sassafras' neatly folded stack.  Can you say ROYAL MELTDOWN?  In her eyes, he has just destroyed her very motherhood.  She has beautifully created a gem of a washcloth with no wrinkles and he threw it on the ground with the swagger of a gunslinger.  POW.  He has crushed her maternal instincts and he knows it.  So he runs.  And she chases him and either pushes him down, pinches him, sits on him (my personal favorite) or some other physical torture and calls him something with "poo poo" in it for a dash of verbal abuse.  You know, like, "poo poo head", "poo tee tee-er" or some other name that denotes disgust.  Naive little me thought that kind of talk only came from boys.  Heh heh.
-So I move on to the vacuum.  Sassafras has a love/hate relationship with the vacuum.  She either hates it and thinks its "too loud!", which she always manages to scream louder than the vacuum itself, but whatever, or she loves it and wants to vacuum herself.  So the whole time I'm trying to vacuum, she's following me either yelling that its too loud or doing the Chinese water torture version of: "Is it my turn? Is it my turn? Is it my turn?" until I'm ready to stick the vacuum attachment down my throat and suck out my own beating heart (it seems less painful at the time).  Cowboy loves the vacuum cleaner.  So much so that he follows me around with the goal of pressing the on/off button repeatedly until I'm near certain the vacuum is going to explode or the electrical current in the house is going to go haywire and we're all going to go up in smoke.  So every time I turn to tell Sassafras it's not her turn to vacuum, Cowboy presses the button.  And every time I lean over the pick up a random shoes off the carpet, Cowboy presses the button.  Drives me BANANAS.
-Finally, I just try and pick up.  You know, the clutter.  The debris.  The little sprinkles of love that let me know that little people live here.  And it's chaos.  If I'm not entertaining them, then they are entertaining themselves which many times is far worse.   As in, Cowboy will climb anything and everything, including the pantry shelves if he has decided it's time to eat.  Never mind that there is essentially concrete underneath him.  If a cookie is in sight, its apparently worth the risk.  Or he'll find a stick of some sort and go after Boo Boo.  Or he'll dump Boo Boo's food into his water which makes me want to throw up.  Or he'll start digging in the trash, or turn on the oven, or climb the chair that is next to the computer and start banging.  You know, innocent little stuff like that.  And Sassafras will make a train in the playroom with every single toy she can get her grubby little hands on.  Or she'll go exploring in the refrigerator for something to eat, leaving the door wide open.  Or she'll get into my makeup because she wants to look like a mommy. So I end up picking up only what they've managed to destroy during the time I tried picking up the rest of the house.  SEE WHAT I MEAN?!?!?!
    So that's my story and I'm sticking to it.  I try.  Really, I do.  Because if I have a messy house, that means I have to look at it all day long.  Its the failure that's always in my face, if I choose to look at it like that.  Which, by the way, can drive you clinically insane.  So, I try to focus on what I did do during each day.  Like how many times I colored a picture with Sassafras.  Or how many books I read to her.  Or how many times I pushed her on the swing.  Things like that.  And I remember that I did actually find time to teach Cowboy where some of his body parts are and what the chicken says.  And I prevented him from dying a couple of times, too.  From falling off the slide, to eating a penny, to getting eaten by Boo Boo for taunting him.
    So, in the disheveled world of the mom, it can be hard to be proud of what you're doing on a day-to-day basis.  It's not exactly brain surgery.  It's waaaayyyyy more difficult.  Doctors get years and years of schooling to figure out how to operate on a bum brain.  And here we are, entrusted with forming typically several tiny brains into effective machines that govern smart, well-behaved individuals who thrive in a dysfunctional world.  With usually NO schooling.  We don't go to school to be parents.  We get tossed about in the world of tradition, trends, and try again.  And we get beaten down- often by the kids- and get back up.  There is hardly any glory in the momentary mom triumphs that go unnoticed in a busy world.  When your husband gets home and all the kids are alive, how many of us get thanked?  Even though we are usually life-savers on a daily basis.  When the children are miraculously well-behaved during a dining out experience, we sometimes chalk this up to them finally "growing up" instead of being due to the fact that we have drilled manners and correct eating habits into them on a daily basis.  And when they start to get older and show real compassion and affection to other people, sometimes we can forget that we had a hand in that.  That each kiss they give out was once a kiss given.  Clean house or not, I can think of no better legacy than that.
Happy Mother's Day.


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