Friday, February 7, 2014

There Are No Magical Laundry Fairies

Before Ari was born, a dear friend of mine sent me an article about NOT going all Carpe Diem on parenting.

I read it. I absorbed it. I agreed with most of it, especially this:

This CARPE DIEM message makes me paranoid and panicky. Especially during this phase of my life - while I'm raising young kids. Being told, in a million different ways to CARPE DIEM makes me worry that if I'm not in a constant state of intense gratitude and ecstasy, I'm doing something wrong.

If I'm honest, I can say that I'm always panicking, at least a little bit. It's not just parenting that has done this to me, it's being me. I can break that down and tell you why, but that doesn't really matter here. What matters is that when my wonderful friend sent me that article, I felt a sense of permission to be imperfect.

When my maternity leave ended, however, reality and my natural tendencies arrived in full force. Mom guilt set in. I wrote about said Mom Guilt and how to avoid it.

In my life, and in my article, I fell into the trap the Carpe Diem article warned about. I started seeking out articles and books about how to enjoy every moment, about setting aside chores and errands to spend time with my son.

The more I read, and the more panic I felt, the more I kept being drawn back to the idea of NOT pulling a carpe diem on every. single. moment.

I came to one big conclusion, THE LAUNDRY STILL NEEDS TO GET DONE.

As great as it sounds to push all the chores and errands away until after bedtime, it's just not humanly possible (at least not for me, my mother's daughter).  We do what we can. I do some of the chores while my husband and son get in their bonding during bath time.  I run quick errands on the way to daycare (when I know Ari is still napping, because, really, who wants to arrive to daycare to a cranky, not quite awake toddler?). I take care of what I can in the wee hours of the morning before getting my son ready for the day, but there are still things to do.

I cannot do all of the chores in the 1.5 hours I (sometimes) have between my son's bedtime and my own.

Last night, my son woke half an hour after I set him in his crib and was not willingly put down until over an hour past my bedtime (throw all your sleeping strategies at me, but toddlers can have a bad happens).  So...nothing got done last night.

I also want to have some <<gasp>> downtime with my husband to, oh, I don't know, watch a movie, play a game, have a conversation, do other married people things, or just sit on the couch staring at a wall.

Even if I did save all the chores until after bedtime, some chores are noisy or require frequent trips in and out of my wood-floored house (have you ever tried to quietly do chores in a house that echoes?  so quietly that a lightly sleeping toddler will stay asleep? yeah...not so much). I also don't want to go grocery shopping at 9:15 p.m. That may just be me.

There are hundreds of tips online about how to make it possible that my child never sees a chore or an errand. If I followed them, I would also never see my husband.

So, I get out the swiffer. My son says, "No, Ari!," grabs it from me and starts mopping the floors.

I hand him one of his favorite books and bring him into my bedroom while I fold laundry. Sometimes he reads, other times he grabs clothes from the basket and starts trying them on.

He can say "acc uu" when he sees the vacuum.

And, get this, when he sees a paper towel, he grabs it and starts scrubbing the floor.

So, no, I haven't created a magical mystery world where sweet little fairies do the chores and errands. Ari sees it happen. He can put his blanket in the right basket and knows what clean up time means (even if he starts crying before I actually see him put away a single Lego).

But when I see my 20-month-old wielding a mop with joy in my clean and organized house, I can't help but think I've carpe-d the hell out that diem. 

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