Balancing Chores and Being Mom

Last night, my slumber was interrupted, not once, not twice but at least a dozen times. All by things that simply could not wait until the morning, things that demanded my attention, things that only Mom, aka, I could do. One needed to go potty, and needed my company to the bathroom, the other needed a drink, and I dutifully carried out these tasks. I made the trek back to my neglected bed, to close my exhausted eyes, only to hear, “Mom, I need __” and so my tired body somehow managed to get up to meet the requests of my two very needy daughters. In the back of my sleep-deprived mind I thought, “Sleep, please, I just need sleep.” I drifted off around three a.m. to be awakened at 6:30 to a very awake six year old shouting orders for breakfast. I ask myself, who was really captain of this ship? Obviously, they are, and they don’t mean to be bossy, they are just still dependent on me for their needs. The back of my mind wonders when the day will come when I can go to my bed and not be beckoned from it, when will I not be required to assist every need, and then a sadness filters through my exhaustion……..that day will come all too soon.

Oh, as much as parenting two small children wears me out, the thought of the day they no longer need me is torturous. My mind constantly reminds me, “Hold tight to this moment, they are fleeting!” There are days I want to shush that voice, and just be tired and cranky. But I pull strength from some deep place, put a smile on my face, and chipperly ask, “What would you like for breakfast!” Of course, they always want something different, and usually I compromise and they get a pop-tart (don’t judge, I am not a morning person, and it is a task to just stumble to the kitchen). So, the day begins, a list of demands, to dos, sibling rivalry will ensue, channels to change, cartoons to watch, counters to scrub, questions to answer, laundry to launder, dishes to wash, meals to cook, and somehow fit in time to simply enjoy my kids……it seems an impossible feat. The same feat that I face every single day. Do all that needs done, and still find time to be a good mom that does more than just chores. It is a daunting task, one that I face with determination, and usually end the day feeling like either I failed to get the house clean but the kids got attention or my house is tidy and my kids didn’t get the time I planned on giving to them. Either way, there simply is not enough of me to do it all!

I want to the mom who has it all together, a tidy house, happy children, and her sanity. I have resigned myself if I can at least make it through the day with two out of three of these tasks then I have accomplished enough! As mothers, we put these crazy demands on ourselves. I am here to admit it, I am here to say it outloud…..I DO NOT HAVE IT ALL TOGETHER! There I said it. That was hard, even to type. I am an overachiever by nature, but I am not superwoman….if you are struggling to hold it all together; IT IS OK! We will fair this day, none the less for the fret and worry and shortcomings. To the moms who have it all together, good for you, I would like to give you a high five….right in the face!

To that mom who says with all her motherly wisdom, just enjoy it, it goes so fast, you will want these days back…..SHUT UP! I already know, that is the cause for all this pressure I feel to cherish each second of every day. But, that is as impossible to do; just as impossible as matching all the socks in my sock basket, because let’s face it we all have a sock basket. It contains tons and tons of tiny socks, varying in size and color, and never, I repeat, NEVER will ALL the socks have a mate. Who knows what happened to the other sock that it originally was paired with, who has time to worry about it? Not me, there are tons more of tiny socks to wash, and tiny feet to put the socks on….and you got me, there are days my children’s socks don’t match….GASP, oh the tragedy!

To that mother who keeps her house spotless, I envy her, mine once was the definition of tidiness…and I still work to maintain order, and cleanliness but it usually involves me staying up after bed to accomplish it. So, if you are that mom who manages to keep her house spic and span, and you have two kids under the age of seven, then truly, I gravel at your feet! I have no idea how she does it, this mom with the spotless house. I scrub grime off cabinets, crayons off walls, and just when I think I can relax, there is a spill to clean up or worse. The OCD side of me wants to hold my children hostage in their room all day, so I can keep my house pristine (I am only half joking). But if they spent their childhood captive in their room, what kind of person would they grow up to be. Nah, I will let them play. I will allow them to scatter their toys across my living room, and I will even keep myself from following behind them to pick them up. They need to build their imagination, need to play, and this is all part of the messy experience. I do make them clean up before bed, but there is almost always a stray toy splayed out on one of my floors…..and I am just going to have to be okay with that. So, if you come to my house at noon, I can’t guarantee you will not see a bevy of various toys speckling my house. You have been warned. Children live here, and children, well, children are messy! I will continue the never-ending challenge of keeping it orderly, some days I am more successful than others.

I have two little girls, which is exactly what I always wanted. Along with these two little girls, I also will confess, I have an obsession with clothes. They have boutique clothes, you know the ones you have to hang dry? Yeah, those clothes….as if I don’t face an insurmountable hurdle of keeping up with clothes with regular washing requirements….If you see my children out you will undoubtedly see, two beautiful little blondes with adorable frilly outfits, perfectly styled hair….and then you will see me, frazzled, hair bobby pinned, and unpressed clothing. Now, don’t get me wrong, I LOVE fashion, and dressing up, but if I have an errand, there are only so many hours to get us both dressed and usually that is them. Just like their laundry, it always gets hung to avoid wrinkles, my everyday wear usually gets shoved wherever the heck it will fit!

To those mothers who strive for perfection…….look in your childrens’ eyes….there you will find it! If you think that you have accomplished all the feats of motherhood, you might want to inspect your children….through the hustle and bustle, did you stop and play with them awhile? Did you enjoy their company? Appearances are important but my joy comes from seeing my girls smile. Now, I have a game of baby dolls to play with two important people, and then maybe, just maybe, if time allows I will get the sink emptied of dishes, the laundry switched out, and all the toys put away….but if not, there is always tomorrow for those things, today I choose my kids first!

The Rarity of Taking a Moment For Me

I sink up to my nose in a bubble bath…….ahhhhh, alas, privacy. I linger in the sweet scent of the fragrant bubbles that I never get to enjoy. I light the candle, the one I purchased just for a night like this! I listen to the sound of the soft music I had chosen, meant for purposes to unwind. One of the rare times I got to choose music preference, usually my music was limited to ABCs and Wheels On The Bus…..listening to my chosen music break the inviting silence, I remembered how much I loved music, accompanied by only my presence, the way the candle flickered, and the feeling of freedom. For this moment, I am free! I am not, for the present moment, Mommy, I am just April. Some days, especially like the one I had today; I forgot that my identity extended beyond being a mother. I leaned against the back of the tub, remembering that I am also me. With guilt, I realize, I miss being me. I only get glimpses of myself, when I have time to reflect on who I am. I take a slow pull from my ice cold, adult beverage, I had almost forgotten I was an adult! Oh the sweet rebellion of one singular drink as I soak in the bliss of aloneness! Sweet luxuries don’t happen like this often, I sigh into the steam of the bath, and ask myself if I had remembered to breathe that day, or had I been too busy to stop and simply catch my breath.

I take in oxygen, then slowly allow my head to sink under the water. I can hear the voice of John Legend, muted by the water surrounding my ears, but utterly beautiful. I emerge feeling baptized by the liquid washing over me. Here, for this moment, I am just me. The Mommy voice tries to sneak in, “You are enjoying this too much!” I silence her with another pull from my rebellious drink, but the thought still lingers. I feel guilt, damn it, stupid mommy voice, guilting me in my one few selfish moments. I drown myself in the music, letting it resonate the parts of me that stay buried all day. I am not a closet drinker, I am not a “drop your kids off all the timer,” I am not a “mother who despises her duties,” as a matter of fact, I relish in my childrens’ company, but sometimes I need to tap into that part of me that is more than a mom.

I shave my legs, without haste, relishing in the way it feels to be preened and the unhurried glide of the razor over my skin. I massage my hair with shampoo, intoxicated by the sense of just pampering myself. I condition my hair, I smell the sweet, fresh scent of the conditioner that I save only for moments like these. I exfoliate and scrub my flesh until it is free from all the grime of the day. Thoroughly clean now, I just linger. I don’t want to leave this peaceful little world, not just yet. The truth is, I need these rare moments, they help me remember I am human, I am still a woman, I am still April, and I still need to find my inner zen. There is an inner battle with the mommy in me and the guilt of simply being me.

Then a familiar tune sneaks through the speakers, one that the girls love, one they sing along to in the backseat, the one that makes their little eyes light up, the way their innocent voices sing the chorus, although the words aren’t precisely right. A grin stretches across my face. I find myself singing along joyously, dancing like they do when I peak at them through the rearview mirror, and I feel joy. Joy I wouldn’t have felt if I had not become a mommy! “You have amazing kids,” the mommy voice whispers, this time I don’t silence her, she is quite right. I do have amazing kids, they are funny, beautiful, charismatic, and full of life. They are also rambunctious, chaotic, loud, and at times overwhelming, but I love them with the deepest recesses I never thought possible!

I needed times like these, to remember all the chaos, the tears, the mommy, Mommy, MOMMY I need yous that ┬áhear all day, and to just be still for a moment. No needs to be met, no cups to fill, no toys to pick up, no fights to referee, no walls to clean crayons from, it is rejuvenating. You see, I need this to be a better mommy. I need to wash all the defeats of feeling like I am not good enough, that I failed to get my to do list done, how earlier I had lost my patience, the moment when I was too busy to play, and the sadness that reminds me in that Mommy voice, “They won’t be little long, enjoy it!” I enjoy my babies, with all my heart and soul. But there are times I feel defeated, I feel I am not enough, and I have to allow those lost battles to roll off me.

I am a Mommy, first, always first, and that makes me beam with pride. My children’s happiness ALWAYS comes before my own. I have to hold fast to myself sometimes, because the love I give to them is all-consuming, willing to sacrifice all of myself for them, but I know I must hold some tiny piece of myself. Not for self serving purposes, but so my girls truly know who I am. Being a mom is the biggest part of me but it isn’t my entire identity. When my babies grow to have babies of their own, I hope they find escape for a few moments, to realize their self worth is in both parenting and also just because of who they are individually. I hope they do this for their children, so they can be a better version of themselves.

I raise my hand, to run it through my wet, tousled hair. The balance is tough, for your children to be as vital to your life as the air you breathe, and somehow maintaining some time for self reflection. I glance at my now pruned fingers, my mind flashes memories of the girls’ wrinkled fingers after a long bath, and again I smile. My bath is not entirely for myself, it is to reflect on the miracles my girls on. I pull the plug and sit in the tub until the last drop of water slips down the drain, taking my troubles, my worries, my flaws, my downfalls, my not enoughs with it! Forgotten are the messes, the fighting, the mishaps of the day, replaced with all the beautiful things my children bring into my life. I step out of the bathtub, subdued, refreshed, renewed, ready to face another day without the lingering thoughts of yesterday dragging me down. I am ready to be the best possible mom all over again, in the morning. I wrap the warm towel around me, feeling like I just went up against an opponent and won, my victory? No not the bath, my children are my victory, my sanity, my crazy chaotic existence revolves around them! I smile inwardly, I got this! I step out of the tub, barefoot onto a toy meant to cause misery, I toss it into the bath toy basket, with a grin. Oh, no Mr. Ducky, you don’t get to steal my moment of serenity, not tonight, I thought as I poured my unfinished drink into the sink. In my comfiest pjs, hair and teeth brushed, and my legs shaved, I feel human! But just before I slip into bed, I tiptoe down the hall, peak in each of their rooms and drink in the sights of them. “I love you, thanks for letting me be your mom. I don’t deserve you, but I will never stop striving to be the perfect mom you deserve!” I whisper into the night, before sauntering off to bed, I drift off to sleep almost instantly, the last vision is one of them singing along in the backseat because they are where my heaven is.