The hubby and I have been flirting with minimalism for some time. I say flirting because while we both find the idea attractive, and would absolutely love to get to know it better sometime, it’s just not something we feel we can commit to at this moment, especially as, with two kids under 10, it is next to impossible to keep the ‘things’ from piling up.
There’s the ‘thing’ the youngest made in school – a small clay pot with uneven sides or the hand-drawn book he made describing how a bed is made. There are the ‘things’ the eldest collects – rocks that catch his eye or the projects he completes in cub scouts.
Those things, at least, have sentimental value even if they take up space, but then there are the other ‘things’: the plastic characters that come with fast food kids meals, the Legos they use to build a model once which later magically transform into multicolored landmines to an unsuspecting parent’s foot, or the toys which cycle through their favor – one minute they are taking up space in the corner, the next minute (which usually coincides with you eyeballing them for a garage sale) they are the be-all-toy of all-consuming obsession.
Their ‘things’ can be a tad overwhelming at times.
Then I came home from lunch on Sunday and found the floors were cleared and all the toys had been put away. It was all I could want for Mother’s Day.
Better yet – I hadn’t needed to ask.
A friend of mine recently brought my attention to an article featured on the Huffington Post entitled: “Why Women Are Tired: The Price of Unpaid Emotional Labor” by a person known as Psyched in San Francisco. The article, which describes one woman’s request for a professional house cleaning as a Mother’s Day gift, goes on to detail how her well-meaning other half missed the point of her request. She wasn’t looking for a clean house, though that was definitely a plus. What she wanted – was a break.
It reminded me of the old analogy of a person looking for a drill in a hardware store. The person isn’t there to buy a tool, even if that’s what it appears to an outsider. The person is really in the store because they need a hole.
The author of the article made a point to say her husband was a kind and supportive partner. He wanted to do the right thing. He wanted to make her Mother’s Day. His mistake was simply not understanding the requested gift’s true value.
Has my other half been sneaking a peek at my browsing history and whispering suggestions into my kids’ ears? Perhaps, but in this instance, I’m not complaining. I simply enjoyed a couple hours off duty. It may not come again for some time.
Another friend sent me a piece from the New Yorker: “I am the one woman who has it all.” by Kimberly Harrington. By its title, you might think the piece was a judgmental essay about a woman who has chosen to continue to work after having children, when in fact it is an all too relatable (and funny) summary of all the many reasons a mom might actually want a break from it all, if only for a single day.
After reading the piece I now understand I’m a woman who has it all too, but that’s okay. I know it is worth it in the end.
I like to think it’s made me a better person as well as a better mom. I certainly appreciate my own moms more now knowing what shenanigans my siblings and I put them through.
I’m okay with the bad – the mess, the stress, the never-ending head colds – provided it continues to be outweighed by the good.
I tell myself that one day I will come home and there will be no mess to clean – my boys will be out in the world on their own – and so I accept the things around my home for what they are, proof that, for this moment, that time is still far from now.
I’m okay with having it all.
Just as long as ‘having it all’ comes with the occasional unexpected house cleaning and maybe…, just maybe… a couple hours off and a bottle of wine (or two).
Happy Belated Mother’s Day to the moms out there.