When I quit my job to stay home with my then one child, I had lots of grand ambitions. I had lots of ideas about what a stay at home mom could do and should do.
Among those things were a perfectly clean house, lots of planned activities for Madeleine and me, a delicious, home cooked supper every evening, crisp, clean and ironed clothes; oh, you get the picture.
And it’s not like I didn’t try. Heck, I may have even succeeded on some level (well, except for the perfect house, the plethora of planned activities, supper every evening; again, you get the idea)
Now here I am, four years and two kids later (for those not paying attention, that’s three, total) and my expectations are still just as high as the day I first stayed home, but I’m not quite as hard on myself when I don’t meet my own expectations.
You see, life happens. The perfectly clean house? Sure, it can be cleaned, maybe even perfectly, but what happens when you let your three kids play in it? I maintain that a perfectly clean house can only exist in two places: 1) homes with a fulltime housekeeper, workaholic residents and no kids and 2) husband’s fantasies.
Activities? We make it to story hour at the library more often than not, but sometimes my kids want to play with their friends. Or color. Or, for shame, watch television.
Supper? More often than not. I like to cook, so this one is easy. But sometimes I just plain don't feel like cooking. When Joe’s not here for dinner I confess my ambition to cook diminishes a thousand-fold. So yeah, I admit it; on those nights sometimes I make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. But I make them myself, so they’re still home cooked, right? Or at least homemade, at any rate.
I don’t even want to get into the laundry. At this point we’re operating out of a laundry basket that hopefully at least makes it from the basement to our bedroom. Forget anything along the lines of crisp orironed. And I seriously doubt any stay at home parent who professes to be totally up to date on their laundry. Maybe they are, but I choose to doubt their veracity anyway. It makes me feel better.
At the end of the day my house is clean enough. It may not sparkle, but it’s not embarrassing, we have good, healthy food to eat (generally) and, most of all, I’m doing what I really wanted to do when Joe and I first decided I should stay home, which is spend the days with my kids. I may not spend as much time as I should cooking or cleaning, but I do spend as much time as I should playing “This Little Piggy” with my baby, reading to Madeleine and playing trains with Hank.
And I’d like to think that when they’re older they won’t remember the dust bunnies under their bed, but they might remember a lazy day spent at the zoo with their mom.