Thursday, November 13, 2014

"Wow! Our bathroom looks great! Who cleaned it?"

The fairies. Ugh. I wish. I did!!! And why are they acting so shocked? It isn't as if I never clean bathrooms. To be fair, I do clean bathrooms. Regularly. In this case, the shock was because the girls had trashed their bathroom so badly it needed emergency services while they were at school. Lotion on the floor and mirrors, toothpaste all over the sink, nothing where it should be, etc.

Messy desks, but creative kids.
Messes like that are why our home is never 100% in order. And we have messes like that because - ready for a shock? - we have kids! Not only do we have kids, but we have kids who play. I remember explaining this to my husband one day when he was getting cranky about their desks being all kinds of crazy looking and super cluttered. He loves having creative kids who come up with all sorts of original games and projects on their own. The side effect of that is mess. I leave them alone to play and they make messes. Cause and effect.

But I'm a stay-at-home-mom, right? I should be cleaning all day while they are at work and school, right? Yeah . . . no. I mean, I do, but I don't. Here's the reality of being a human today: I have long to-do lists. And I have limits, so one mess gets dealt with while another gets ignored.

Here's a secret - this is true for pretty much ALL moms. Really. I used to feel bad about my cluttered house and how bad it could get on its worst days. Then I talked to my friends. We all have messy house days. We all frantically tidy up before people come over. Even when my best friend is coming over, the one I know won't judge me for my mess, I still hide the bras drying on the door knobs. Do I know she has stacks of laundry waiting to be put away hidden in her house, too? Yup. But we all do it. Every single one of my mom friends has at least one room in her house she considers off limits to guests because that is the "dump everything and close the door" room. Every one has a secret stash of junk stuffed in a drawer or under a couch or chair just hoping no guest finds it. No matter how polished and perfect things look the day you show up, know that every mom is human and therefore spent the last fifteen minutes running around like a chicken with her head cut off frantically stuffing, dusting, vacuuming, and hiding junk.

We all do it because we all have kids making messes and demanding our time and attention. We all have kids who want us to watch them jump off the couch, help them with their homework, feed them, hug them, remind them to brush their teeth (twenty times), tuck them in (thirty times), find their socks, pack their lunches, snuggle on the couch, listen to how their day was, drive them to school, repair their ripped sock alien's antennae (again), etc. So relax. No one is Donna Reed in real life these days and only people who have housekeepers and nannies have homes that are always tidy. Embrace the clutter and know you are not alone.

Monday, November 3, 2014

“Should I feel bad about that?”

Every now and then people tell me to not feel guilty about something or “there’s no shame in that,” and I can’t help looking at them like they’re a bit off because, honestly, I never thought of feeling guilty or ashamed of that part of my life. Trust me, there is plenty I don’t like about myself. I am my harshest critic. But there is also plenty I really don’t worry about, and I wonder why other people do. Here are a few things I don’t think I should feel bad about, and I don’t think any other person should, whether they are happy walrus moms or happy walruses without children or just happy whatevers:

  1. Not being the size of a walrus. I am skinny. Undoubtedly.  My BMI is right above underweight. There is no denying I am un-walruslike when it comes to blubber. I simply have none. That’s why I wear multiple sweaters and shiver a lot. That is also why random strangers call me “skinny bitch” which I think is really rude. If anyone should be ashamed, it is them. Rude behavior is bad. Being skinny is not. I used to work with a woman who literally pinched me on a regular basis and would ask me if I had eaten. I was always tempted to pinch her back, but I didn’t BECAUSE THAT IS RUDE. If she is obsessed with my weight, that is her issue, not mine. I don’t feel guilty about being thinner than her.
  2. Living in an apartment. We own a house, so this one is weird. When we moved, we didn’t have a ton of time and didn’t know how permanent our move would be. Renting is the best option. And I really don’t see a problem with it for us or other families like ours, yet, for some reason, people have said to me when I tell them we live in an apartment, “ohhhh, there’s no shame in that.” Huh? Who feels shame? I like our apartment. It is a heck of a lot easier to maintain than a house. I don’t have to do yard work for one thing, but the girls get a sweet playground and tons of kids to play with. And it fits our budget. Why would I feel ashamed that we made the best decision for our family considering our current circumstances? A couple years ago, buying a house seemed like the best choice. Now renting an apartment does. No shame. People are weird.
  3. Having two kids. It seems like no matter what number of children a person has, there will always be someone who thinks a different number would be better. For people who know our family and know the challenges we have faced over the last few years, this has never been a question. However, there are still people who do ask me about it and ask why I didn’t welcome more lives into our family. This is a personal issue and really people should back off. Do I feel bad that I didn’t have more? No. I know why we have two and that is all that matters.
  4. Sewing and cooking and being a stay-at-home-mom. Really, people? You want me to feel guilty about cooking dinner now? Blarg. I was raised by a couple of feminists, so the thought of being anything other than a feminist is just super foreign to me. When people tell me I am anti-feminist and ask me if I feel bad about setting a bad example for my daughters by being "a little wifey", I don’t feel bad for me, but I do feel bad for them. And I kind of want to punch them. But I don’t. Because that would be rude. If you have never watched the series Makers on PBS, I recommend it. It shows the history of the feminist movement in an interesting way including the choices women now face between full time work and being a stay-at-home-mom. Being a stay-at-home-mom is a choice.  It doesn’t mean rejecting female education, opportunity, employment, or any other form of equality. I sew because I enjoy it. I cook because it is the most cost effective way to get food into my children. I am a stay-at-home-mom because I am raising my children and for our family having me home is the best way to get that job done. And I like it. My daughters know and understand all that. So to the people who look at me with their judgey eyes,  I look right back with my confident eyes. I know all the reasons I am here, and I stand firmly behind my choice and do not feel bad. Plus I have awesome kids who eat salads. So pht. (OK, so that last part was a little rude.)

The sad truth is that no matter what kinds of walruses we are, there will always be someone who thinks we should be a seagull. What I try to teach my girls is to be confident in their decisions. No one else will know all the details that go into their decision making processes. People just see the end results. The girls need to stand by their choices and not feel they have to explain them to others or be ashamed of who they are, where they live, how many kids they do or do not have, or how they spend their time (as long as they aren’t breaking any laws or being rude going around pinching skinny people). They will much happier if they can stand up and say, “this is me and I’m ok with that.” As the saying goes, “the best accessory is confidence.”