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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The stupid house is clean, but who cares?

When I was putting the girls to bed tonight I realized that I didn't relax and enjoy them at all today. I know that every day can't be all fun and games, but today I had complete tunnel vision and only focused on doing errands, cleaning up the house, wrangling the dishes, organizing the insane pile of clothes that's been accumulating on the bottom of our closet, doing paperwork, and paying bills. I got a lot done, but you know what? I didn't play with the girls at all, I didn't laugh with them, I said "I'm busy," a lot, and I spent an awful lot of time ignoring them. I just generally sucked as a mama. Ugh. Why do I do that? It's not like the world would have come crashing down if I had just relaxed and focused on the girls in between chores. Whatever... tomorrow, right? Tomorrow I can do better. I'm writing this as a reminder (kind of a written slap in the head). I can smile, laugh, and hug at least as often as I load a dish in the damn dishwaser. I can balance things better. Because, come on, no one will ever look back and say "wowee, that house sure was clean," but we will remember the fun nature walks we took, the hilarious art projects we attempted, and the new recipes we tried together.


  1. Anonymous9/22/2009

    I think you are way too hard on yourself.

    I imagine the girls survived and had a great day entertaining themselves, which is what family life is all about.

    Have some chocolate and relax :).

  2. It's just one day M3, we all are allowed one. The important thing is that 99.9% of the time you are there. The girls are thriving and not lacking for attention. AND you noticed and cared. Trust me, in my line of (former) work, I never encountered that insight.

    On the other hand, I have been beating myself up lately over could haves, should haves. This motherhood gig is not for wimps. You are doing just fine. :)

  3. I did a double-take when I read this post-because I had JUST been on another site reading this:

    If I had my child to raise all over again,
    I’d build self-esteem first, and the house later.
    I’d finger-paint more, and point the finger less.
    I would do less correcting and more connecting.
    I’d take my eyes off my watch, and watch with my eyes.
    I’d take more hikes and fly more kites.
    I’d stop playing serious, and seriously play.
    I would run through more fields and gaze at more stars.
    I’d do more hugging and less tugging.
    ~Diane Loomans, from “If I Had My Child To Raise Over Again”

  4. Okay, Don't be so hard on yourself. I do it a lot. This last week it was canning....canning everything. Sometimes things have to be done. You are a great mom! You do so much with them it is amazing.

  5. Jules: that poem is awesome! Thank you. I'm printing it out right now and am going to hang it on the fridge.

  6. ...and you will blink and they'll be running into a Kindergarten classroom.

    But everyone needs a day to get their life in order. :)

  7. I think everyone needs a day to get caught up on all that crap. You do so much fun stuff with the girls that they aren't even going to remember the ONE day mama had to get some stuff done.

    I love that poem. I'm saving it too.

  8. Anonymous9/23/2009

    You are a wonderful mother, it's obvious!!

  9. Whao, I couldn't say it better myself. I was doing that a lot before but now that Emma is going more days to preschool I do all the cleaning and shopping when she is in school so now I spend all my time with her when I pick her up and I love it!

  10. I do the same thing. Don't be too hard on yourself. Cracks me up that I say that to you but not myself!

  11. Forcing your children to completely entertain themselves develops their problem-solving abilities, creativity and a more realistic view of the world. Every once in awhile, it's not only okay, but even a good idea. You're a great momma.

  12. Taking the words right out of my mouth...

  13. You are an AMAZING mom. I'm sure the girls and you will have a wonderful day today. AND you will be an even better mom because you have all that accomplished from yesterday.
    Have a great day and hug them extra and laugh a little more today. . .

  14. Wow, we have all been there. Don't be too hard on yourself, you're doing great.

    Naomi LOVES to check out the Ro and Ree pictures and videos everyday (often to point out the cool toys they have - lol!). She refers to them as "My friends Ro and Ree". She had me take a picture of her in her cat pj's so Ro and Ree could see that she has the same ones as her. Too funny!

    If you ever want to visit Montreal ... :o)

  15. Part of being a family is that everyone has tasks that he/she is responsible for. Sometimes if those tasks get away from us it can stress everyone out. Then no one has any fun. Remember that old adage "If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!" What makes me happy is a clean, orderly house--it makes me calm and I can then focus 100% of my attention on my kiddos. Being a family isn't just all about the kids 24/7. You also have a marriage to kindle and (OMG) personal interests! LOL You do SO much for those girls, I'm truly exhausted for you with all your activities and trips you blog about. But the bottom line is they are a part of a family now and sometimes that means 'go find something to do, cause Mama has stuff to do'. And that's okay!

    Your post hits home because our daughter hasn't figured out what being in a family means yet and I am quitting my job next week so that I can stay at home and help teach her how to be a part of a family. Her reaction is more of 'if it's not all about me, then I'll just melt down.' I figure I still have about 2 years to salvage before she goes to Kindergarten. Coming from the orphanage, she's very good with caregivers and very well adjusted at daycare, but it all goes to hell in a handbasket when we get home. Now I know your girls have been home MUCH longer and appear VERY well adjusted to the normalcy of family life so this probably doesn't apply to you. But just keep in mind that a family is more than the sum of its parts. You are a GREAT mom!!


  16. Try thinking about it this way:
    Today, you modeled for them how to take care of their homes and their finances.

    It's good for them to see adults doing all sorts of adult things!

    This will make them better grown-ups, better able to take care of themselves (and their loved ones!) down the road.

    Not to mention, as the first commenter did, that they also practiced 'entertaining themselves'! That's important too.

    Don't be too hard on Momma. It's not like you laid on the couch all day, eating bonbons and watching TV, eh?

    You Moms do the toughest job - I live in wonderment of your energy and dedication every day. Carry on and have fun, Missy!

  17. Anonymous9/23/2009


    Twice a month. Does the laundry, deep cleans where needed and YOU do NOT clean prior to their arrival.

    Probably have to scrimp somewhere to do it, but, you know, a few less ebay or shopping trips and there you have it.

    it would be worth EVERY dime.

    (Not to imply you ebay or shop heavily, but just a LITTLE scrimping could take a HUGE load off your mind?)

  18. Just been thinking the same thing myself...... I work from home so that I can be with Adia and somedays I feel awful because I feel like all I do is work and not spend enough play time with Adia.

    I agree 2China4s this motherhood gig is not for wimps heheh

    Jules thank you for the lovely poem

    Have fun M3 I am sure you will make up for any missed play time in a huge way.... You are an amazing inspiring mom:)

  19. HEY HEY HEY, careful with the self flagalation over there, you make the rest of us look bad. We (I) do things like that (being grumpy and focusing on the house) on a daily basis. You are doing a fine job I am sure. Ro and Ree seem completely in love with life AND you.

  20. Anonymous9/23/2009

    I know how you feel. I was thinking the other day how often I say "no" to my kids. Why not have one day where I say "yes" to anything within reason. Yes to playing in the mud, yes to chocolate before dinner, yes to another dinky little toy at the Dollar Store, yes to staying up 30 more minutes. Honestly, what would it hurt?

  21. Anonymous9/23/2009

    I love reading your blog because you delight in your daughters each and every day. Balancing work and fun with my children is a challenge for me and you are a constant source of inspiration.

    Thank you!


  22. Kristina9/23/2009

    Hey no stress! As you can see every mamma has her days. Having the kids so far apart made me realize how quickly they grow. As they grow they bring new challenges and every mom is a super hero trying to make it all work! enjoy what happens and remember we all have our good and bad days but the kids will be fine and really only remember the fun times!HUGS!!!

  23. Don't be too hard on yourself. We all have times that we know we can do better. Our first step is realizing it. Tomorrow (or is it today now) is a new day! Stop and smell the roses and hug your girls. You are a good mom.

  24. Anonymous9/23/2009

    I feel the same way sometimes and my mom always tells me....if you don't do things occasionally for yourself, your house, your friends...your children will grow up not knowing what to do when someone is NOT paying attention to them. She taught 6th grade for the last 30 years and said recently she has seen more and more children who do not understand why they are not the center of the universe. We adopted our 4 year old daughter after 7 years of infertility so I want to dote on her all of the time but realize it is probably healthier to not...

    Your girls are just adorable!

  25. I have to, for my sanity, ignore the girls to get things done often. The clutter, dirt, dishes, cooking, laundry, bills weigh on me and if I can do them in a chunk then I can hang with the girls guilt free and less exhausted. I worry so to me those few hours of absent mama is made up for by a mama who can be more engaged.

    ALso, I read where people leave the mess and leave the bill and leave the adult stuff til the kids are asleep. But then how will they learn that we have other stuff we HAVE to do/be responsible for. I want my girls to know we have other things besides just them and that they will as well.

    We all have stuff to do! And 1 day, is no big deal....way way to hard on yourself.

  26. Anonymous9/23/2009

    Hey M3,

    We ALL have days when we don't give 100% to kids. Sometimes, as others have said, we just need to get stuff done. Your girls are lucky to have each other to play with and entertain each other. You do soooooooooo much fun stuff with your girls, so no worries!


  27. I am so with you on that one! Who knew balance was so hard?

  28. Jessie NY9/23/2009

    Well you said yourself "its not like the world would come crashing down..." Well, it didn't come crashing down b/c you DIDN'T do those things, either. Ah, don't beat urself up about it.

  29. Dude, you SO make me look like a terrible mom!

  30. Anonymous9/23/2009

    Well, I echo the sentiments of most that you shouldn't be so hard on yourself. Plus, in order for you kids to be happy (as in not live in chaos, etc.) those things do have to get done around the house. And not to burst your bubble, but I do actually look back at my childhood and thing, "Damn my mom kept a clean house."!:) I just marvel at how my mom did it all. I felt totally loved and cared for (emotionally, physically, etc) AND my mom worked from home AND kept an immaculate house. I can't seem to do a fourth of what she did.
    I think your kids will look back and see that they had a GREAT childhood!

  31. Yeah, people always say play with the kids, cleaning the house can wait. And it's not like my house is super-clean, but at some point you need clean dishes, clean clothes, clean towels, and food!

    I know what you mean!

  32. I feel the same every time I attempt to mop. Or dust. Or finish the laundry. But I think it's healthy for my girls to realize that Mommy works too, even if not outside of the home.

    They need to learn that homes need attention once in a while. Feel good about having achieved something in the day, and the girls achieved some time to learn creativity (and probably more ways to make messes, if they are anything like my 2!).

    We are all fabulous, even on the days we pay bills and mop!


    Indiana Lori

  33. I had that same realization last year about this time when Ian was working M-F out of town and it was just Ky and I at home AND I was trying to pack our house for the move. I cried that I spent the last few weeks of being a mommy to one in that way and vowed not to let it happen again.
    And that explains the condition of our house today...
    But we're happy!

  34. Been there, done that. My daughter (age 5) has even said to me "Can't you see I'm busy?" It really makes me wonder how many times I've said that. It's very humbling.

  35. Thanks. I needed a good slap in the head too!

  36. I understand those feelings and those days as well. You are only human and not superwoman...give yourself a hug and enjoy today with the girls.

  37. I started crying when I ad this because I struggle with the same thing daily. But you have some really wise readers who make some great points.

  38. Anonymous9/23/2009

    Are you kidding me? I have not commented here before, but I read your blog often. (Yes, I know, I am a lurker...) Anyway, you seem like you are an amazing mom and a wonderful person full of fun. You are always doing something cool with the girls and, believe me, a lot of people (me included) are reading this blog to get ideas! So, relax. We all have those days when we get fixated on "chores" and forget the bigger, more important things in life. Stop. Refocus. And spend tomorrow just playing with the girls knowing all the chores are behind you. Now, I am getting off the computer to go play with my Grace! Thanks, for reminding me what is important.

    Lynn of

  39. Anonymous9/23/2009

    Hi, as a fellow chinese from hubei,I feel very happy for these girls because they have such a wonderful mother.Very lucky girls


  40. Well, that was another wonderfully written post by you, but what amazed me most were all the terrific, helpful, supportive and clever comments you received. What a smart audience you have!

    I ditto the remark about having a housecleaner. I work full-time, so when I get home, I want to be totally available to my kid's needs. Now that they are 5 & 6 they don't need me all the time and have a lot of fun just playing with each other, so I still have a little time for blogging and personal interests, like photography.

    I do my own laundry, but the best part is my girls love to help me with this chore, so it becomes a fun learning process too. I let them help with cooking and simple tasks too. Some tasks may take a little longer with little helpers, but I think this quality time can be just as good as taking a walk or playing a game.

    Best wishes. You are an amazing mama.

  41. Oh yeah. BTDT (did that today).


    Thank God for another chance tomorrow!

  42. You're a wonderful mother, M3! I love to read about all of your adventures with your girls and marvel at all that you do. You're very wise to know that these are the best years.

    When my children were growing up, I spent all of my time spit polishing my house, going to school, and working on my career. Now when I dust the kids' photos, I wish they weren't grown up and gone. What I'd give for just one day with them clamoring for my attention. Alas, they now give me the same amount of time as I gave them. Serves me right.

    Recently, my husband and I attended a party in the old neighborhood. We drove past the boarded-up house in which I had invested so much of my time. It had been ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. I sadly thought it to be an apt symbol of my mistaken priorities.

    You are doing a great job. Everybody is right. Don't worry about one day.

  43. Michelle9/24/2009

    I think you are being WAY to hard on yourself, its one day - one day to catch up on the mundane stuff that is cleaning and washing etc.

    You adore these girls and put so much thought and love into everything they do - it is plain to see that they are your life. Family life is about the boring along with the fun, give yourself a break.

  44. Hey, sometimes those days just happen. Tomorrow is another day.

  45. I very much think the exact same thing of myself...still working on it:)

  46. Because you cleaned today, you can relax and enjoy tomorrow. I am rubbish at doing housework, so can never really relax and play with the kids, as I am always thinking 'I really ought to be doing something else'.