From time to time, I send up the bat signal and ask you all for help. There are times when we need to band together and let another mom (or dad – I added this for you SPD) know she is not alone. And I am positive she is not alone. POS-IT-IVE. So here’s the email my friend sent me a few days ago (and yes, I do have her permission to publish it here):
I’m too embarrassed to post this on facebook, but this is what I want to ask everyone:
Dear stay at home moms,
HOW DO YOU DO IT?!!!! No really, how? I’ve been a SAHM since my child was born and I am spent. How do you get anything done? Or do you just concede that nothing will ever get done ever again? Your house will be a disaster, you will look and feel like a disaster and you will let your child watch obscene amounts of Curious George to keep some tiny amount of sanity. Oh, and let’s not forget the binge eating throughout the day and booze after It’s bedtime. Yes, I said “It”.
Here’s my response:
I don’t really “do” it. And I definitely don’t do it well. I sort of muddle along blindly — sometimes with rage, sometimes with tears, and occasionally with a bit of grace. Or maybe I just hallucinate the grace part. I sort of sense that my grip on reality is slipping– what with the Santa Claus business, the tooth fairy, fairies in general, and the frickin’ Disney princesses, the line between real and pretend has become wide and blurry. Wait, is it socially acceptable to threaten your kid with an omnicient fat stranger in a red suit year round or is that just in December? Did I say that all princesses had to go to graduate school before they got married or was that fairies?
I don’t get anything done. Well, you know, except for the slow and painful molding of a baby/toddler/kid into a thoughtful, kind, smart human being who is able to wipe her own butt. Some days I tell myself doing that –raising a child–is enough. If I squint, tilt my head, and stare at that thought long enough I almost believe it. Other days I make hand gestures at the laundry every time I walk past. I pretend I don’t see the dust bunnies under the couch and in the corners. I ignore the bits of pesto pasta form dinner several nights ago that have now dried and attached themselves firmly to the kitchen floor. I do what needs to be done. The feeding, watching, soothing, driving, teaching, carrying, scolding, stopping, wiping, encouraging, listening, asking, telling, role modeling, washing, directing, entertaining, and the safe keeping of my child. There isn’t time for anything else.
I lower my expectations for the cleanliness of my house, myself, and my clothes. I tell myself I am above brand names, dry-clean only, and an iron. I have inner beauty, bitches. Secretly, I feel bad about my weight, my frumpiness, and my hair. I tell my daughter I am awesome and funny and have amazing curves. Then I eat chocolate chips directly from the bag. Because I can’t drink. Damn the chronic illness!
I let my kid watch TV. Netflicks, baby. I congratulate myself on the fact that she doesn’t see commercials. I AM AN OUTSTANDING PARENT. Sometimes I power nap while she watches My Little Pony or Pound Puppies because that’s what I have to do to not be a complete mess. Plus, I’m sure both those shows are highly educational. Every Friday we have pizza movie night. I tell Zoey we have it because it’s fun! And we want to celebrate the weekend! But really it’s because I’m done. Exhausted. Spent. Crawling across the finish line.
You call your kid it. I call mine ratbag (thanks LM for this word!), snot, poo head, witch. Not to her face. At least not yet. I highly recommend the use of ratbag. Creative, accurate, and satisfying.
And I feel guilty. Almost all the time. I try and let it go. I talk to friends about it. I let them tell me not to feel bad. And sometimes it works.
Here’s my advice:
- Know that it’s impossible to be a “good” SAHM. At least how society defines “good.” Society can suck it. We can’t do it all. And the man who set up the expectation that we should raise kids, clean, cook, do laundry, volunteer craft, and bake all while humming a jaunty tune should be harmed.
- Find other mom friends who have the same reasonable and low expectations. Make sure they are snarky and sarcastic and funny. See them every day. Seriously. Adult contact is crucial.
- Embrace the quote, “A clean house is a sign of a wasted life.” Or watch Hoarders for three seconds and your house will seem spick-and-span.
- Use the TV. If it keeps you from yelling, crying, collapsing, USE IT. It’s better for the kid to watch TV for two hours than to have us be stomping, yelling, crying and generally falling apart. But, WILL THE MAN IN THE YELLOW HAT EVER LEARN?!?!
- Preach it, sister! Tell the truth. Tell about how hard it is, how crazy making, how lonely. Connect with other moms about this.
- Don’t be a woman who chirps about how amazing and fulfilling it always is. Run from moms who say that. RUN FAR. Anyone who finds it fulfilling to clean vomit out of a rug has problems. You don’t want any part of that.
- Use the crock pot. Easy meals. One pot to wash. FTW!
Remember, you are not alone. You are an awesome mom. No interesting, worthwhile person gives a shit how clean your house is.
What about you? How would you answer my friend’s email?