So, I was trying to be a good mom. Seriously, I promise I was. As I watched my three oldest girls carrying out pitchers of water and come back and report how great it was that they were playing in the mud, I thought to myself, "See. This is what it's about to be a kid. Playing in the mud. Getting dirty. Drying in the sun" (for albeit windy here in Metropolis, it was rather warm today). I didn't see them for a while, but I knew they were having a good time.
And then they came in.
They were CAKED in mud, up to their armpits, faces slathered. They were coated. And, to make things even more...breathtakingly filthy, every step they took unearthed some of it onto my floor and carpet and stairs.
I should have, in hindsight, had them strip right then and there instead of marching them to their bathroom to denude, but I didn't. At least I had a rational moment to have them take off their shoes (and mind you, not their off brand Krocs, but their school shoes, for crying out loud! Of course their school shoes) which were also just covered. Still. Holy trail of earthen dirt!
We now pause for the moment of personal growth:
For many years as a mother, I have felt tremendous guilt over this little poem (to the left...click for a larger image).
I had an epiphany today: I need it clean. Or even the semblance of clean. Or even the desire to be clean. Because without it, I am a joy crusher. A dream destroyer. A merciless mother when it comes to activities that make my house get messy.
Oh my holy cow, do you know how many times I've said NO to my kids ideas and activities and now I know why: because without a shadow of a doubt, at this moment in my life, on the precipice of a depression, I just don't have it in me to clean up after it.
Because it will be me, in the end, who has to clean up. And there's just one of me. Yes, Super J helps out when he can, and the girls will work to complete an assigned tidying task, but only to the level that (at most) 6 year olds can achieve and with lots of guidance and often, nagging. That means that *I* am outnumbered and when I see stuff like this, I confess Gentle Reader, I lose my cool. And I swear, a lot, in my head (and mayhaps a wee bit under my breath). It's true. I am no longer ashamed to admit it. ...well, maybe a bit, but still. I realize that there are many of you who are successful at doing both...letting your children be creative and messy and full of these aspirations AND teach them to clean up after themselves, but it's just taking me a bit longer to get there, and I'm not 100% sure it ever will. And I'm okay with that.
I mean, I'm not okay that I have to nag them to clean. That I'm working on. But I'm done feeling bad because I don't let them paint every time they want to.
Alrighty, so continuing on with today's story...the girls got an early bath. The stairs got vacuumed (a task I detest) as did the rest of the house. Floors got mopped (yes, they were that muddy). And quite frankly, as I cleaned my temper grew smaller and smaller and I actually feel pretty good right now. This is what led to the epiphany, which I kinda knew but really just got hit home again so I thought I might as well record this for my girls to read when they are older: Cleaning soothes the savage mother. It did with MY mom. When she'd get worked up, we'd all start cleaning. It literally kept her from giving us beatings, which is what she got as a child. This was her method to break the cycle of abuse. And it still works for me.
When I get angry, I like to vacuum. I like a clean kitchen, so I'll clean it. I function better in an orderly home. We all do, but some can take a messier place better than others. That doesn't mean that everything in my house is in order. Please. Have you been to my house? But if there is at least one room in my house where things are in its place, I can seek refuge from all that ails. I know there is hope, somewhere.
So, yes, my children are aging and I will never have this time with them again and I'm sure I'm missing out on some things, but maybe if I stop feeling so flippin' guilty about all this other stuff and just let myself be who I am, not who I think I really should be, my sweet girls will remember me being happier during their childhood, and that's not such a bad thing to want for them...and for me.