I have just cleaned. I dusted, vacuumed, wiped, polished, washed, dried, folded (Jesus, I even put those piles of clothes in the God damned drawers!) and as I ease myself into my chair with my fresh cup of coffee I feel amazing. So calm and serene. I am to housekeeping what Tony Robbins is to motivational speaking. Then I see it. The sock lying in the middle of the floor that I just vacuumed. It’s inside out. It wasn’t there 5 minutes ago. It’s dirty, well, I assume it is, as it looks dirty, but this could be a trick because even brand new socks look dirty in this house as my children insist on wearing them outside. And just like that that my moment of blissful serenity is shattered. I start to have that internal battle with myself.
Blissed Out, Calm Me – “Just leave it, enjoy your coffee, you can quickly pick it up later, look away, ignore it, it’s just one sock…”
Fragile, Frazzled Me – “Oh for fucks sake, how the hell did that get there, why is there only one, where did that little dooshbag put the other one? Well, that’s my day ruined. RUINED! I try and I try to make this house a decent place, a clean place, a place that I am not ashamed to invite people into and I can’t, I just can’t (eyes start to water). No one helps me, I’m the only one who ever does anything round here….(Internal rant becomes an outward vocal display)…I work hard all week, come home and cook meals, do shopping, and clean (stand up, slam coffee down – spilling said coffee on bookshelf)…and why? WHY?!? Because it’s obvious none of you care! (need to point out that there is no one around listening to this now very loud tantrum). Well, fine, we’ll all live like pigs. But don’t come crying to me when you have no clean clothes, and can’t find anything…(start storming around house noticing other sock, three toy cars, Barbie and Spiderman lying together in an inappropriate position)…Do you think I enjoy spending every bloody minute of my life cleaning up everyone else’s crap! I DON’T! (the small beings in the house look up from lego that they have spread all over the floor and stare with those ‘here we go again’ glazed over looks). If I wanted to do this every day I would have become a maid – I AM NOT A MAID!!! I AM A HUMAN BEING!!! (tears now flowing freely). I have feelings, and a life that I want to live – this is just not fair! (start to realise that I may have taken this too far – begin to use a quieter voice) It’s not fair, guys, you know? I need you to help me. Can you help me?”
Small Beings – “But, Mum, we need to find the wheels for this car…”
Resigned, Defeated Me – “Sigh, you just need to spread it out more….like this”
I am a mother of three beautiful, stubborn, imaginative, creative, messy children. They make mess wherever they go. It’s not mess to them. It’s life. It irritates the hell out of me, but I am slowly becoming tolerant of it. By ‘tolerant’ I mean that I am sometimes able to refrain from crying and screaming the house down. I am beginning to learn to control the boiling fury that bubbles up from deep down when they create complete chaos in a room that I have just sorted, tidied and cleaned. They are slowly training me up to handle the mess. I can walk on several pieces of lego in bare feet now before I snap and demand that the Lego is packed up and put away. I used to roar around packing up everything daily, putting it all back in it’s place, neat and tidy for the next day. Now I leave it lying around for days at a time, sometimes I move it to the coffee table, where it sits for another two days before I weakly repeat my empty threat of putting everything in a rubbish bag and throwing it out if its not put away. My three small beings just shuffle stuff around for a few minutes.
It the grand scheme of things it doesn’t matter. There will be a day that will come and I will look around at my clean house and wonder where all the mess went. I know that day will come faster than I want it to, so I will try to keep the beast that lives within quiet. I also know that one day, this pain might be theirs. That’s what being a parent is all about – learning to have more patience than you ever thought imaginable.