The House is a Mess

Not long after I decided I needed to be home full-time with my sweet little baby, reality (and overdraft protection) kicked in and I realized after six short months I would head back to work full-time.

I didn’t go without considerable angst—I cried some of the most utterly hopeless tears that first week of daycare (and also, conveniently, my first week on my new job), but I soon settled into my new reality of working mom. I can now say with pretty decent confidence that I’ve made the right decision for me and my family by working outside of the home.

But then there is the matter of the home itself. Working two full time jobs is pretty much everything my fears told me it would: stressful, unyielding, and completely exhausting. I’m not complaining, exactly—just giving credence to the tales of the “second shift” told by the many who have gone before me. It’s not so fun to be a grown up sometimes.

That sweet baby of mine is now two and a half, and thriving at his daycare. He grows more and more each day. And I’m doing just fine in my work. I get to contribute to a good team and I genuinely enjoy the company and people I work with. But just as I assumed in my earlier posts, a working mom really can’t have it “all,” if her definition of “all” is a perfectly maintained career in harmony with a perfectly maintained household. Something just must give.

One of the hardest adjustments is the realization that I will not (WILL NOT!) have a clean house. For my years of being THAT girl with the overly-organized refrigerator and the color-coded closet, I must relinquish the idea of that level of order these days. If I am lucky and the weekend plans permit, I will enjoy the cleanliness I crave for a few short hours on Saturday afternoon, after toiling throughout the morning to restore order, only to have that feeling dissolved with the paw prints from dogs running inside from the rain.

The good news is I’ve slowly been transformed by the busy-ness. I finally feel OK with the mess. Each night, after dinner, my son pleads me to play with him. I know I get a few spare hours each weeknight for this—so I do. The dishes are on the counter. The dog fur is collecting in the corners. The laundry is unfolded on the bed. And I can’t realistically put all of those matters out of my brain. But I can distract myself and enjoy Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site.

Life seems like a series of unfinished things. But really, who wants to finish things? Then there is nothing left to do.

The good thing is that I’m learning (and luckily before it’s too late) that the good stuff happens in the midst of the mess—and if the trade off for nightly snuggles and stories is a sparkling house, then I’d say I struck the right deal.

(Note–this is an old post. As I was dusting off my blog, I found this draft and laughed out loud. Same story, it’s just that my sweet two-and-a-half year old boy is now six)