Monday, May 23, 2011

Letting go

It's been raining a lot. Too much for my liking. It's nearly Memorial Day and we've only had the briefest taste of warm, spring weather. That's New England for you. I've been spending more time indoors due to the wet, cold weather. But, as I look around my house today, I see a little less grime, a little more shine. I've been vaccuuming a bit more. Sweeping. Dusting. Tidying. Partly, it's because I've been in the house more due to the weather. I can't ignore the dirt and mess. I've also been spending more time inside because Julian naps in the morning while Jonah is at preschool, and the kids seem to appreciate spending the afternoons at home most days, especially Jonah who has spent a very stimulating morning at school. But, I am realizing, too, that the other reason my house is a bit more kept is because things are just a little bit easier for me. Taking care of a 3 1/2-year-old and a nearly 11-month-old isn't easy exactly, but it's much less of a struggle most days than it used to be. We've settled into a pretty predictable routine, especially now that Jonah is in preschool four mornings a week. Julian has stopped crying every time he sees the vaccuum cleaner. He plays well by himself and enjoys roaming around on the floor as long as I'm nearby. But, I've also gotten just a little bit better at letting go. My standards for housekeeping have gone way down and I'm mostly OK with that. While it can still be very frustrating that I usually can't finish any job I have started, I know that this is the norm and no longer expect to get everything done in one day. I've gotten to the point where I can do just a little bit every day, at certain opportune times. Over the course of about a week, I can do a little bit of work in almost every room or in our small yard. Just enough to maintain the order I require to feel sane in my house. It's still hard because there's a lot of deep cleaning I really never get to. I have piles and piles of papers to go through. Lots of closets and storage areas that need to be cleaned out and organized. The bathtub could use a good scrubbing. But, someone always needs to be fed. Someone's boo boo needs a kiss. Someone needs a diaper change. Someone needs help finding a favorite toy. Someone needs help sharing. Someone needs me for something other than cleaning and tidying. So, I stop what I am doing. I leave the bedroom only half vaccuumed. I pat myself on the back for wiping down the sink and mirror even though I never got around to mopping the floor. It's good enough because it's better than it was a few minutes ago. And, I know that this is just the state of my house -- and my life -- right now. At any time, things could pile up and it could become more difficult. I've learned not to see anything as a trend, necessarily, because things can change at any time. The most important piece of all of this is that I have let go of judging myself for having a messy or dirty house. It's just the way things are for me. It's not my fault and it's not even a bad thing to have a messy house. In fact, it is evidence that I am doing my job, that I am paying attention to my children and doing what they need me to do. I am happy to say that I have lightened up a lot since having kids. I still have moments when the chaos drives me crazy and I need to vent -- or kick everyone out of the house so I can just take care of things uninterrupted. But, for now, as Julian takes his afternoon nap and Jonah sits next to me on the couch watching Thomas the Tank Engine and chatting with me now and then while I take advantage of a little time to work on my computer, I look around and enjoy the shine coming off of my floors and the crumb-free rug at my feet. I notice there's a bit of dust on the coffee table, but nothing in this house is perfect, now or ever. And, that's the way it's supposed to be, and that's fine by me. ~ Nicole

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