Like many busy working moms, I do a lot of pretending like the state of my house doesn’t bother me- that I’ve ‘let it go,’ because ‘something had to give,’ and so it was my need for a tidy, clean, good-smelling house.
I have let it go, reluctantly, and someday I am sure I’ll have a really clean house, and there will be a part of me that is sad that the very people I get annoyed with for messing it up now, won’t be living here anymore to mess it up.
Motherhood is full of paradoxes, contradictions and ironies, for sure.
Last week, my son Josh spent an entire day building a fort with his little sister “Larry.” They used every dang blanket in the house (leaving every closet door and linen drawer open in their wake) and the construction process yielded much debris, which they did not clean up voluntarily. There was the requisite arguing over space and building strategy, a few tears and complex integration of other siblings into the real estate. It was so adorable. Contradiction #1.
Not shockingly, the kids built this ginormous fort it in my home office, something that both annoys me (does ANYONE respect that this is my actual WORK space??!) and brings me a ton of joy (I moved my office chair so I could see it and them better while they were building and playing in it). And that’s Contradiction #2.
The fort has been up for a week now, has gone through a major catastrophic demolition by force of nature (the dog), and two renovations, one of which included the construction of an addition. Josh has slept in it for a week. I’m not thrilled that he’s sleeping on the floor by a drafty window and on a pile of gross blankets covered in dog hair, dried playdough and used tissues. Still, it makes my heart happy when I look over the side of the fort walls and see his sweet face snuggled up there in the pile of pillows, with his arms around the sleeping dog. Contradiction #3.
This past December, the kids built a box home in the family room, and set it up with lamps, pictures on the walls and rooms with tunnel access, etc. It was right in the middle of the entranceway, and was in the way of everything- I tripped over it all the time, but secretly loved it, and was so sad when it came down. Do I hear#4?
The whole process surrounding both of these epic forts drove me nuts, and I loved it. I guess the upshot of all of this is that it’s hard to let go of personal standards, we’re parents and human beings at (roughly) the same time. Maybe the best we can do is live in the in between space, the imperfection of loving the things that annoy us as moms, and being irritated by the things we find adorable and sweet, and just letting that be what it is. Messy.
I pray the kids will remember and laugh about these forts when they’re older, and hopefully it will get equal limelight with all the mistakes we’ve made as parents, and the stuff that’s gone wrong, the times they fought, or hurt each other’s feelings.
I hope they have these contradictory feelings about their own kids, wishing they’d just go to sleep, then standing over them as they sleep to make sure they are breathing, and looking forward to the morning when it’s (finally) time to snuggle and do crazy things to make them laugh all over again. I hope they try and try and try to teach their toddlers new sounds and words, then miss the quiet of a house without little people talking (loudly) to Elmo at 4:00 am. I hope they are so proud watching the beautiful young person they’ve raised walk across the stage at graduation, then sob all the way home from dropping them off from college, all the while appreciating the absence of teenage hormonally driven arguing, and at the same time wishing they were still tucked safely to sleep in their own little beds, so as parents, they can close their eyes at night and know for certain, all is well within their own four walls (and their heart).
It’s all about contradictions. So tonight, I lay my head down in the fort, wishing Josh was here to fill it instead of at his father’s house, but glad he has that time and special relationship with him, and still wishing he were here to make a giant, annoying mess like this all over again, that would bring me such joy.
Are you on Twitter? What are your contradictions? @CoreyJamisonLLC
This blog was originally published by the Times Union and can be accessed here.