I’ve been wondering lately what the balance between doing what I want and what I need to should be. This question has become more pressing since having a child. For instance, I want and need to spend time with my child every day. Being with her and my husband is such a priority in my life. I also work full time and have a house to keep. That means sometimes when the dishes are piled up in the sink and the laundry is clean, but in the floor instead of the closet, I leave it that way. I prioritize people time over my to-do list, and I’ve never regretted it. However, is part of my responsibility to my family being more domesticated? I don’t even mind doing all of the domesticated things. Cooking, cleaning, and all that comes with it are great when I have time. What do you if your time is stretched though? What choices do you make? Can it all get done?
My grandmother raised my dad in the 1950s and 1960s. She worked full time, but she is a neat freak and now voluntarily cleans houses for a living after retiring from being a secretary for many years. Her house was always clean-still is-and she made sure that three homemade square meals a day were served. Three pies a week were cooked in her house for dessert. She is the every woman. When I asked her how she juggled it all, she shared her secret: loads of cigarettes, no less than 16 cups of coffee a day, and four hours of sleep a night. I’m not kidding. This was completely acceptable to her. After she put my dad to bed, she got up and ironed-sheets and underwear included-cleaned, cooked, and scrubbed baseboards. I sat there staring in astonishment. She admitted that if she could do it again, she probably wouldn’t have been that uptight about things. However, it’s proof that it can be done.
Now, I don’t smoke, don’t drink coffee anymore, and you will never catch me willingly settling for four hours of sleep. Plus, even if I did get up to clean after Wren went to bed, I would not be ironing underwear, ever. Even if someone in my household had a big underwear photo shoot the next day, it’s not happening. But, when could I spend more time taking care of things that need to be done like putting up laundry, mopping, baseboard scrubbing? Where is this time? We don’t watch TV or just sit and do nothing. In fact, I feel like we are almost constantly moving. I have indulged in my full eight hours of sleep since becoming pregnant, but I do see that as necessary for the health and well being of the baby and everyone else in my house. I can’t even imagine what I could cut out of my life.
This brings my age old insecurity of being the anti-everywoman to the surface. I have friends and acquaintances who just seem to always have it together. Their house is clean and perfectly decorated, they shave their legs every day(yes, that has become a two day a week luxury for me), they always look nice, have everything they need in their bag that perfectly coordinates with their shoes, and just seem to have it together. They make it look like doing it all is still possible minus the cigarettes, caffeine, and sleep deprivation. I will never be one of those women.
First of all, I just don’t care enough about appearances. It’s ironic since I live in a city where a book was actually written on the obsession of the citizens with materialism and appearances. Sometimes I do feel the temptation to move to a cabin in Oregon and grow my own vegetables, but this is a family oriented community close enough to our families. Still, the desire to look a certain way and have my possessions appear a certain way to other people has not rubbed off. In many ways, I think this is good and in line with the no vanity, don’t worry about possessions teachings of the Bible. But I wonder if my daughter is missing out on having one of the all together moms. So far, I’ve accidentally sent my underwear with her to daycare attached to her blanket. They were stuck on the blanket when I pulled it out of the dryer in the morning as I rushed out the door. Why weren’t the clothes already folded and in their proper place? Because that’s me. I have also gone to a park with my nursing bra unhooked and two buttons on my shirt open. I was there for ten minutes before I realized because I don’t look in a mirror before I leave the house. Is my daughter learning that it’s okay to throw yourself together without thought? Is she learning there are certain tasks that should be completed everyday to keep her room in order or that if you’re tired enough, it doesn’t really matter? I don’t know. We do brush our teeth and take our vitamins every day. Hopefully that counts for something.
I know I can’t have it all, and I don’t want it, but am I failing at the tasks that are important? I see being a mom as spending time with my child, providing for all her needs, making her feel secure all the time. I try hard to do this plus provide food and a safe, not disgusting environment to live in. The environment may be cluttered, but it’s hygenic. However, I don’t know if I’m teaching her organization or that you have to do things you don’t want every day(laundry) over the things you want to sometimes(sleep next to her at night when she goes to bed). Is she learning that looking in the mirror before you leave the house is a good practice, or that it doesn't really matter as long as you're pretty sure you're wearing pants? I guess when she’s in therapy in 30 years I’ll know what damage I’ve caused. Until then, I’m praying for the best.