I feel pretty confident in saying that pretty much every parent has felt eyes watching them, judging their parenting, at some point during their travels through parenthood. I know without a doubt that I have. And even if no one is ACTUALLY judging you, it still feels that way at times.
You go to the store and your toddler has a meltdown, out to eat and the baby is throwing food on the floor, go to breastfeed your newborn in public because she’s screaming her head off and hungry, or your little boy is asking you a TOTALLY inappropriate question in the checkout line at the grocery store and it’s instantly all eyes on you. But it doesn’t happen just in public. It can happen in your own home too.
Say your water heater breaks so you call someone to come out. They arrive and you realize you’re dressed in pajama pants with your hair falling out of the messy bun you put it in that morning and spit up on your shirt. Then you look around the house. Oh. Shit. Toys everywhere, the baby took off his diaper, and Cheerio crumbs are ground into your carpet. You wish you could ask them to come back in 30 minutes, but you can’t. It needs to be fixed and they are here. So you reluctantly open the door, baby on your hip, and apologize for the mess – it’s been one of those days. You show them where the water heater is, making note of every little mess you spot along the way.
I have done this SO MANY TIMES. Not that exact scenario, but you get my point. Sometimes there just isn’t enough time in one day to get everything done. Other days, you feel as if you could conquer the world. Even on the days when your house is perfectly clean, you can still feel like you are judged.
For example, say you’re part of a playgroup and it’s your turn to host a play date – you clean your house from top to bottom, plan out super fun activities that you probably don’t do on a daily basis because you’re usually too busy trying to stay on top of things, get together healthy snacks and arrange them in a Pinterest worthy display, and then begin greeting the parents and kids. I know my house is NEVER like that on a regular basis. My children are far too energetic for that to be possible. If your house is always perfect and pristine, you have perfect aliens for children and I really DESPERATELY want to know your secrets!
See the thing is, I WANT that. I have seen a lot of blog posts lately where it seems like moms are almost admitting defeat – saying they are okay with having a messy house because it means more time with their families. I see where they are coming from, but I don’t want to do that. I’m not saying that I don’t want more time with my family, because I do. More than anything. But I know it’s possible to balance the two. If you’re content with having laundry heaped on your couch, dishes in the sink, toothpaste stuck to the bathroom sink, and Goldfish crumbs on your dining room floor, then more power to you. I can’t do it. I don’t judge when I see houses that are like that because that’s how my house is a lot of the time. But there is one person I judge for it all the time: me. I know it’s perfectly acceptable to let some of the little things go from time to time, but I also know it’s completely realistic to have a house that stays clean the majority of the time.
Here’s my theory:
If I sacrifice a little time with my family now to get our house in order, organized, and clean, and then find a routine that works well for me and stick to it, then that means I’ll spend less time cleaning later and I’ll get to spend more time with my family. THAT is what I want. I want the perfect house not only because I secretly have OCD and it drives me nuts when things are out of place, but also because I believe that is the type of house my family deserves and I want to provide it for them. That’s my job.
Right now, I’m not a big fan of having people over to the house (with the exception of family). I’m making changes so I can have my “dream house.” Maybe then I won’t be so afraid to have my life “on display.”