I subscribed to a mommy-blog. That in itself is an odd confession since I deplore being called “mommy,” “mama,” or “mom” by anyone other than my own children and I cringe when I see baby-talk (veggies, jammies, hubby) in print. We are all persnickety about something, and these are just a couple of my peeves. We all have them.
I knew I would be subjected to those personal hot-buttons, but I subscribed anyway because the blogger promised encouragement in promoting domestic harmony within the context of a Christian home. I need encouragement.
And within the first week, yes, she managed to turn me off. It wasn’t the “Hey, Mom!” salutation or the advice on getting kids to eat “veggies.” It was that her advice was so clearly meant for women who are only raising children and doing so with lots of resources.
The first blog entry I received via email was about how the whole family benefits from an uncluttered home. Well, duh. I agree, and yet, I was mildly annoyed. I’ve never been the most fastidious housekeeper and I gave up feeling guilty about that a long time ago.
Besides my natural inclination not to clean constantly, I have some pretty good excuses for having a messy house besides just having two messy children and a messy husband:
- We live in an older home. Our house was built in the 1920s and doesn’t have a lot of closets and cabinets. I’ve been known to visit friends who live in two-bedroom townhouses and be wowed that they have a pantry and a coat closet. My house has neither. The reason my vacuum cleaner is parked in the master bedroom isn’t because I haven’t put it away. It’s because it lives there.
- My mother-in-law’s stuff. Over the past nine months, I’ve been cleaning out her house. It has been a monumental task as she and my father-in-law lived there for over 40 years and I don’t think they ever gave anything away. As I said to my husband on the day I started this project, “We are one box shy of our own Hoarders episode.” Now, I just have boxes of her things lying around my house. I’ll get through them eventually and my house will look more like a home than a warehouse. For now, it’s warehouse chic.
- My mother-in-law’s care. It zaps my energy and steals my time. Still, I truly believe that if you have to choose between taking care of a person or taking care of stuff, always pick the person. Always.
I deleted that emailed blog without clicking on the links to tips on un-cluttering.
A couple days later, the mommy blogger sent me an entry that did more than just annoy me. It hit a very personal nerve deep within my soul. The topic was romance. She suggested that to keep romance alive, married couples needed to have weekly date-nights and it was a good idea to go away together for a long weekend every couple of months. Your marriage will be better, your husband won’t feel neglected, and even your children will benefit. So, call those grandparents, get them to babysit, and don’t let “mommy guilt” keep you from planning that romantic get-away.
Okay, where do I begin in telling you what is so very wrong with that and why I had the urge to beat the author with my shoe?
First of all, what is this “mommy guilt?” I’m assuming that it is the guilt mothers supposedly feel for not spending every waking hour happily engaged in parenting. I don’t have it. I can’t imagine that any of my friends have it. Most of the women I know will tell you they spend enough time doing for their families, and if the opportunity for a break presented itself, they’d take it. As for me, I’m pretty sure that I’ve logged enough family time to go to Disney World alone for two whole weeks and not feel a twinge of guilt.
Mommy guilt isn’t preventing me or anyone I know from having a date-night or a second honeymoon. Money and care issues, however? Oh, yeah!
Not everyone has parents or in-laws who are just dying to take the kids for a long weekend so that mom and dad can lock themselves in a hotel room and frolic their brains out. Because my husband and I didn’t have our first child until I was 40 and he was 48, our kids have always had older grandparents. Even before my mother-in-law fell, she and my father-in-law were in no shape to watch my kids for more than a couple of hours.
Besides, even if your parents and/or in-laws are young and healthy, they may not be available. They may not live close enough. They may not want to babysit. So, one should never assume that grandparents equal free, over-night childcare. Geez.
And of course, in my situation, it’s not just about having a babysitter. I have to arrange granny-care. Nevermind the high cost of hiring someone to watch children. Respite care runs about $22 per hour. That is one expensive date-night, and so no, it doesn’t happen that often. It’s a safe bet that my husband and I aren’t going away together any time soon.
He’ll just have to trust that I love him. I’ll trust that he loves me. More importantly, we will trust that we genuinely like each other.
We’ll also trust that eventually things will get easier. Our sandwichy lifestyle won’t last forever. Until then, I will forego the encouragement in the form of preachy tips for domestic harmony.