A friend who’s a new mom recently posted a Facebook status lamenting that her life is not as she’d imagined before she had her son. Although she loves her new role as stay-at-home mom, the fact that she’s not getting nearly as much done as she expected has been a difficult revelation to her. From my vantage point she’s an amazingly attentive, loving and connected mom to a high-needs little guy who also has food allergy issues. Her plate is full and she’s doing right by her son, which in my book is where the rubber hits the road. She’s the definition of success as far as I’m concerned.
And I often take the time to let her know this. Which is exactly what I did when she posted the lamenting status.
Which she then responded with:
Susan, I thought your house was a picture perfect magazine house, and you are one of the moms that I can't even try to emulate you are so incredible! How you've raised such wonderful kids, homeschooled them, bore children for so many other families, and worked, all while also making beautiful things! Well, I consider you one of the super mommas!
Which kind of kills me.
The truth is, this isn’t the first time I’ve heard this. I’ve heard it quite a bit, actually. And that upsets me.
Because you know what? There’s shit that goes down in my house just like it does in yours.
Just because I don't routinely put the crappy everyday out there on display doesn't mean I'm not swimming uphill like everyone else. Because for real, we all are.
So in that spirit, let’s take a look at this past Tuesday between 5:30 and 7:30pm:
I got back from the grocery store and Starbucks (a rare treat! I had a gift card!) with the intention of getting some work done on an online course I’m taking on understanding the customer perspective. I’m taking it because I have a website but I have no customers. This is a problem. I have nothing for sale yet on my website so that’s compounding the problem.
(added after I wrote this post - I’ve since got my shop up and running! it’s a start - a meager start - but yay me!)
Despite endless soul searching, I have no idea what to offer for sale. This pisses me off and I need to start making money since I lost my job almost a year ago.
As I walk in the door, Aster tells me that while I was gone one dog barfed all over the door frame. She tried to clean it up but he ate it before she could get the paper towels. Meanwhile, the puppy peed on the rug.
So she goes to clean up the rug and two of the three dogs decide to barrel into the back yard while the screen door is closed. Therefore, the screen is now permanently open (i.e., ripped out).
I have no idea why the dog puked but I know Winnie won’t be happy about it when she gets home.
I attempt to get some of my online course done but can’t hear the audio because the dogs are barking.
Our pet dog jumps on my lap which I hope gets her out of the scrum so things will quiet down. But it causes another problem - now the 12-week old puppy is chewing the side of my cabinet and I can’t get up to stop him because I’ll disturb the dog on my lap and the barking scrum will reignite.
I yell upstairs to Aster to please come downstairs to stop the dog who’s barely 6’ from me but from chewing my cabinet.
I manage to get about 20 minutes of coursework done but they want me to detail customer feedback and I’ve only ever had one customer who’s given me feedback (thank you Amy!) so all I write about is Amy. This doesn’t sound like it’s going to go well.
Winnie drives up from work at 6pm, thank goodness. I’m off dog-duty as soon as she gets in the house.
The dogs hear her and the barking scrum kicks it up a notch.
We discuss at length the broken screen, the peeing on the carpet, the barfing-eating, and the other sundry items of the day.
Meanwhile, the barfy dog is ambling around the house and heaving. He won’t open his mouth because he knows if he does, we won’t let him eat the barf. I’m sure this takes talent and determination on his part.
By now it’s 6:30pm and time for me to start dinner. It’s too hot in the kitchen. The air conditioning is off and the windows are open because our HVAC system is on its last legs. It’s about to die and it’s noisy as hell. I’m surprised we haven’t been cited for a noise violation yet, it’s that bad.
We have a replacement system scheduled for October or November because it’s cheaper to get a unit at that time of year. But it’s still $6,000+ and did I mention I’m not making any money?
Thankfully Doug is still employed but every day he comes home still holding a job I thank my lucky stars because do you know what people think about Freddie Mac? (in case you don’t know most of them think it should close up and go away)
I’m grateful beyond belief that I have a beautiful and comfortable house to live in. Every single day I’m grateful for that.
We wouldn’t have this house without my mom though. She helped us buy it because she wanted us to have a home that would better suit our homeschooling life. Every day I’m thankful for that gift.
We also wouldn’t have this house if it weren’t for the fact that Doug’s parents helped us buy our first house and lent us money for our second house. That support set us on a good financial path that we’ve been able to follow to here, our third and probably forever house.
It’s still hot in the kitchen as I’m boiling water for pasta. And it’s extra steamy because I’m in the throes of perimenopause and the hot flashes are unrelenting.
I’m chopping avocados and they’re messy and slipping all over. I hear yelling coming from upstairs. The dogs are circling underfoot because they want to be fed.
The barfy dog won’t be fed but he doesn’t know that yet. I don’t want to be the one to tell him, either.
I go to the stairs to find out what the commotion is. Winnie is shouting that there’s water shooting out of the back of the toilet in the kids’ bathroom.
I don’t know if it’s clean or dirty water, nor do I ask.
I am, however, grateful that my kids have their own bathroom and I don’t have to share one with them.
I think my bathroom might be dirtier than their bathroom, if you want to know the truth.
The pasta water is boiling and making the kitchen hotter than hell and the dogs are still circling to be fed and no one’s fed the cat yet either and I’m having hot flashes and there’s water shooting out of the toilet in the kids’ bathroom.
Meanwhile Doug and Caton drive up from soccer practice.
Caton walks in and is in a pissy mood. I don’t know why and nor do I care.
He heads upstairs to check out the bathroom situation without taking off his soccer shoes. That’s so gross though the carpet is a wreck anyway so no harm done there. But it’s still gross.
But what I really need is for Doug to get in the house but he’s on the phone in the driveway. He’s always on the phone in the driveway.
He volunteers with the Reston soccer organization and it’s his mistress. It takes a lot of his time and attention. More time and attention than I want it to. The fact that I feel that way makes me feel guilty. He’s doing something really valuable for the community and the inconvenience of it annoys me. But it takes a toll on my family life and I don’t particularly like it. And I feel very guilty for admitting that so I do my very best to be cheerful and supportive for the 8 months of the year he’s engrossed in soccer.
It’s a long 8 months though.
I cut up some almost-too-old green beans for dinner. They’re partially frozen because the vegetable drawer in my refrigerator gets too cold and freezes things that aren’t meant to be frozen. The beans that aren’t frozen are limp and maybe a little slimy. But they’re the only fresh vegetable I have and I’m too lazy to look in the basement for legit frozen vegetables. And besides we waste too much produce in our family. It’s a really bad thing, produce is expensive and shouldn’t be needlessly wasted. It’s another big source of guilt for me.
So I end up serving kind of gnarly green beans with dinner.
Doug finally gets off the phone and comes in the house. He looks into the toilet situation and comes to the table laying blame wanting to know why he didn’t know about the toilet problem, and how long has this been going on?
We tell him it’s been going on for about 15 minutes, about the time he was talking about soccer out in the driveway.
Meanwhile the wretching dog continues his game of hide and seek, not wanting anyone to take his prize from him.
We eat our dinner. We catch up on the day with everyone, hearing about the animals Winnie treated at the vet hospital and soccer practice and plans for the weekend.
I never did get any more of my course done. I’m no closer to answers than I was earlier in the day. I’m annoyed with myself for yet another day going by and getting no farther along. It’s so damn frustrating, and demoralizing too.
But my life is perfect, and that's the truth - I sincerely mean that. It's real and it's loud and it's hard and it's wonderful just the same. It's just perfect for me.
Messes and stresses and chaos and all.
Just like yours.