Let it Go
About a year ago, a neighbor dropped by our place unexpectedly to give me something. I invited her in and as we were chatting she stopped mid-sentence and said, “Oh my gosh! Your house is so clean! How do you keep it this clean?” I told her I mostly cleaned up as Atlas and I played throughout the day and then I really cleaned like a maniac when Atlas napped. I was pregnant with Andi Rose at the time and she looked at my big baby belly, laughed and said, “Well enjoy that now because you won’t be able to keep your house this clean when you have 2 babies.” I smiled and told her she was probably right (she has 3 children) but in my head I scoffed and thought, “Woman! You don’t know me – I’m the queen of clean. God could give me 4 more babies and I’ll still vacuum every day during nap time.”
Fast forward to present day. Andi is 10 months old and so close to walking. Atlas is 2 and his life’s mission is to escape the confines of our house. I’m busier than I’ve ever been keeping up with those 2 blessings God has entrusted to me.
I feel like I spend 75% of my day in the kitchen making meals, feeding babies and washing dishes.
On a typical day, I do 2 loads of laundry before 10am. And I don’t tell you that to say, “Oh, look how on the ball I am!” I tell you that to say, “Messes are made in my house before 10am that are so horribly disgusting, I am required to do laundry before breakfast is even ready.” And when I say, “do laundry” I obviously mean wash and dry clothes. Folding clothes isn’t part of that process. Because folding clothes doesn’t happen until nap time OR if 1 child refuses to nap and demands my attention during their sibling’s nap time, then I fold that laundry from 8am at 9pm that night, which means that laundry from 8am sat in a heaping pile on my (un-made) bed all day long. All.day.long.
Suffice it to say, my neighbor was right. I can’t keep up with everything now that I have 2 babies. Now, we don’t live in filth (*ahem* usually). However, I simply can’t obsess over having a perfect house these days, which is hard for me because I like things neat, clean and orderly at all times.
This weekend I opened up to Dave about how disappointed I was in myself. I told him I truly thought I would be able to maintain everything house-related as a stay-at-home mom but the demands of motherhood are currently keeping me from ‘keeping it all together.’ Dave laughed and told me he didn’t care if he came home from work to find toys everywhere and dishes in the sink if the kids had a good day. He challenged me to think about my priorities during this season of life and he reminded me that I didn’t leave my job to have the cleanest house, but to raise our children.
I think it is so easy to get distracted by our daily demands though and miss our big opportunities. That laundry on the bed, those dishes in the sink and that play-doh stuck in the carpet so quickly pull my attention away from the baby that wants to be tickled and that toddler that wants to show me his new trick (for the 18th time).
I started thinking about how my day-to-day goals reflect my big-picture goals. My day-to-day goals are usually centered around keeping the house tidy, which I find sad and convicting. Do I want my crowning accomplishment in this life to be a spotless house? Do I want my kids to look back and think, “Mom was a raging lunatic about keeping the balls in our ball pit, but we could eat off our floors because she mopped twice a day” … because if I’m not careful that’s where my daily goals will lead me.
I’m trying really hard to be intentional about letting some things go (not all the things, just some of the things – isn’t cleanliness still next to godliness?). I mean, things have already been let go, but I’m trying to mentally let them go now. Like, beds aren’t being made, but I’m trying to be okay with the fact that beds are not being made. Make sense? I would love to live in an immaculate house 24/7 because that’s just the kind of crazy person I am, but what I would love way more is to have kids who grow up knowing they are more important to me than squeaky clean floors. My sweet neighbor told me, “I found that I could either have a pretty clean house or I could have a really great relationship with my 3 kids.” Obviously, one day I hope I can have both (because who doesn’t want it all, am I right?). But during this season I’m learning to accept the chaos and clutter in exchange for the giggles and cuddles.
So I’m sharing this today for the mama who is reading this from her toy-filled living room and feeling frustrated over not being able to keep it all together. Think about your most important priorities – not your daily demands. Think about what you want out of life in 20 years, not what you want tonight before you go to bed. If you’re like me, maybe those questions will help you leave some of those toys on the floor and instead spend some extra time laughing and playing with your family.*
I feel like I’ve written a few blog posts on this topic, but it’s a reoccurring issue in our house so it is a message I like preaching to myself. 🙂
*I always recommend picking up legos, no matter what season of life you’re in. Stepping on one of those things will make the most devout praying woman cuss.