17 March 2011

Cleaning House

One of the many ways that I am imperfect is my inability to keep my house neat and tidy. I like to blame this on my second child. When I had only one child to run after, it seemed easy to keep the housework current. I had a child who took two long naps a day and slept from 7 pm until 6 am after she was only a few months old. That provided me with 3 or 4 hours during the day to rest myself and keep the floor scrubbed and the toilet sparkling. Its certainly not LR's fault, but staying at home with two kids is far more challenging than with one. I can't get everything done and I've had to choose what I'm willing to let slide. For me, that has been the neat and tidy house.

My house is generally clean - not eat off the floors clean - but not filthy. However, on any given day, should you walk into my house unannounced, you will find toys on every floor in virtually every room - strewn about as if by some crazy weather. I teach the girls to pick up their toys twice a day. EC does this pretty willingly, but LR is still in the refusal stage and, at her age, I'm not pushing it. But they live and play in the same space and, especially during the winter months when we spend much of the day indoors, the house can go from tidy to tornado in mere minutes.

I can recall a day when EC was only a few months old and the fire department had to gain access to my apartment to get to the back stairs to gain access to my neighbor's apartment where she was inside unable to open the door for them. Many people tracked through my house that day and I was a little proud that there wasn't a dirty dish in the sink, the floors were immaculate and all the laundry was done, folded AND put away. Fast forward to last week when my poor little LR required the same treatment - a slew of firemen, policemen and EMTs coming in to take her away in their ambulance.

There have been days when my house was in such a state that I might have been mortified to let them in. But that day I got lucky. Unfortunately, my daughters had been not feeling well for two days and we'd stayed inside. However, they were watching more television than usual - laying on the sofa and recuperating from their colds. I, on the other hand, was going stir crazy from being cooped up and went on a cleaning binge. With the toys all put away and no one feeling well enough to take them all out again, I went on to mop the floors, scrub the bathroom and even clean the kitchen counters.

It was pure chance that that team of emergency workers found my house in such a neat and tidy state. It seems a little shameful to be even thinking about any of this under the circumstances, but I was relieved that my house was so clean. Not in the moment - there was no time to think about that then. However, I thought about it when I got to the hospital. I was thinking about how lucky I was that my neighbor wasn't working that day and was able to take EC to her house and how fortunate that my husband hadn't yet left on his overnight hiking trip. And I was thinking thank goodness my house was clean. I know that I'm imperfect and most of the time I can accept this. But it doesn't mean that I'm always comfortable with it or that I'm not judging myself for my shortcomings. I do feel guilty for not keeping a neat and tidy house. I try to remind myself that, in order to maintain it, I'd have to sacrifice play time or time spend cooking a nutritious dinner. Still, I couldn't help feeling lucky that day when all those people showed up, that they had one less thing to judge me about.

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