I almost cried this morning, trying to get dressed for a pediatrician appointment. I hurt my back recently and one of the chores my husband had to take over was lugging our laundry up and down three flights of stairs and bending over to load the washer and dryer. He works full-time and to his credit, this is the first time in a month I’ve really run out of clothes. But there I was, standing in front of my closet, Charlie crawling around my feet trying to eat my big toe, ready to bawl because I couldn’t find anything to wear…other than fancy dresses or summer nursing tops. In the end I discovered a rogue pair of sweats hidden in my t-shirt drawer. Which I promptly spilled applesauce on.
I used to think moms who went out in stained sweats had given up, that they didn’t care what they looked like anymore. Big revelation of the day: sometimes a mom with greasy hair and stained sweats really really cares.
I care because I have voices in my head telling me that I look like a mess. That my house isn’t clean enough. That I’m a bad mom for using jarred baby food on busy days. They tell me my marriage is a failure if I snap at my husband. They tell me I’m selfish for blogging or writing poetry or working on grad school applications, when I should be dusting.
Those voices also tell me, with dripping condemnation, that there is a mom out there, with multiple kids, a sparkling clean house, no back injury because she started pilates the day after giving birth, who is always kind to her husband, never shouts at her dog and cooks organic meals from her own garden every single day. And I feel like I’ve met this mom. She is not one person. She is an amalgamation of the best parts of all the moms I know. She is a fiction. But in my head, I’m competing with this imaginary mom who embodies the very best of each of us, with none of the hard or bad parts of any of us.
To get the judgmental voices in my head to shut up, I need to let them out of the confined space of my internal monologuing. I need to pin them down with written words, see how anemic they are. Written down, they lack the substance to hurt me. Separated from those voices by typed up words, I can see the guilt-tripping is happening in my own voice. I am my own worst critic.
And so, to the nagging voice in my head that’s trying to convince me I’m failing at…everything, I will now reply to your nagging with a dose of truth.
The permanently clean and tidy childhood homes you remind me of, were the result of our kind housekeepers and nannies helping my mom. The healthy childhood meals every night of the week, were sometimes (some weeks often) take-out greasy goodness. The bickering with my husband is a fleeting part of marriage, trumped daily by conversations, jokes, hugs and smiling.
And the dirty kitchen floor? Let it stand as a testament to choosing to play with the baby over mopping, to choosing to let my back heal over mopping, to choosing to cuddle on the couch with my husband over asking him to do the mopping.
I will not let the stupid dirty kitchen floor win 😉