Monday, March 8, 2010


There are many things I have learned on my journey through motherhood.  I have learned that "selective hearing" really does exist.  Just when you think that you need to take your child in for a hearing test (after he repeatedly cannot hear you tell him important information, or your husband yelling at him to take out the garbage,) you discover that when you lean over to whisper to your husband a suggestion of going to Ci-Ci's Pizza while driving in the van, he has heard you perfectly clearly...even over the screaming babies, his iPod blaring some Greenday song, and the toddler loudly arguing the finer points of the difference between "hitting" and "patting" someone.  I have also learned that toddlers, much like Spock or Data from the Star Trek series, do not understand the figurative or connotative meanings used in human language.  It is best, when explaining things to them, to stick to literal meanings, lest you wind up with a child trying to stuff your cat into a bag, because he heard someone had let him out.  My most important lessons, however, revolve around housework.

One thing I have learned the hard way is that you cannot organize clutter.  You can buy bins, folders, baskets and plastic drawers...but the clutter will not really go away or take up any less room.  You can blame the kids, the husband, and the house...but it won't help.  The clutter will still mock you from the corners, the counters and the pantry.  The only thing you can do is roll up your sleeves and dig in.  And you cannot be sentimental...because in the end, are you really going to be glad you kept every single drawing your child did from pre-school through the 5th grade?  Are they going to care or want to keep them when they grow up?  Nope.  But a few special ones will put a smile on your face every time.

Another thing I have learned is that yes, they really can...and like that.  Letting things go because eventually SOMEONE will pitch in and clean something just means that your house will look like a pig sty.  Because the children honestly do not care.  They do not see the dirty clothes, the spilled milk or the pee that missed the toilet.  Those things will stay there until you clean them...or get angry enough to yell at someone else to clean it.  Subtly hinting that perhaps people should pitch in...or whining that you do all the work will not make the house clean, nor will it change the people living in said house.  It will only make you more miserable.

The most important lesson that I have learned, though, I did not learn on my took actually reading a book (late at night, in small increments because it was the only time I had) written by someone called the "Fly Lady," to help me understand.  I am a perfectionist...not lazy.  The reason things would get so messy at times was because I would get so overwhelmed, and realize I did not have time to clean it "correctly."  And by correctly, I mean not only sweep, but mop the entire floor, scrub the floor boards and wipe down the walls.  So, instead, the floor looked even worse that day, because I avoided it and stressed out even more.  There is a quote from this book that really hit home with me...and I feel bears repeating:  "Housework done incorrectly still blesses your family."  It does not have to be perfect.  And with five children, I will tell you it will never be perfect....and I have learned to live with that.  I have established routines that keep it functional, and relatively the point where I will not be embarrassed if someone stops by and needs to use the bathroom.  I don't freak out when one of the boys lifts the toilet lid and sticks their hands inside.  However, on any given day you will find laundry ready to be folded on the couch, Legos on the floor, and blankets strewn around the living room from children snuggling up under them while they watch "Scooby-Doo."  You will also find piles of computer parts on my husband's side of the bedroom...but we won't go there. 

Do I still feel upset when I see someone make a mess without cleaning it up?  Sure.  Do I still feel like it's unfair that I do almost all of the housework?  You betcha.  However, I have found that as long as I keep up on my routines, and just do what needs to be done, I have much less stress.  The children get off to school without too much drama, the kitchen stays relatively clean, and nothing strange grows in the bathtub.  And I'm ok with that.  I will have plenty of years to make my house sparkle and impress company...but for now, hopefully they will be impressed with my youngest children's technical prowess, my oldest son's guitar playing skills, and my older daughter's beautiful artwork on the fridge.  I know I am.

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