Undone

Last Friday began with two luxurious hours by myself at Starbucks, yet by two o’clock I was still crying frustrated, discouraged tears. And it’s all because I cleaned out the craft closet.

Okay, that’s not entirely true.  For a few days I’d been almost-despairing, feeling completely defeated by the chaos in my home and the never-met needs of my small children.

A bit melodramatic, I acknowledge, but still.  I mop the floor while the baby throws food down from his high chair. I get the laundry put away only because I need the basket to empty the dryer.  I pull the child out of the bathtub and set him on the rug while the water drains, only to find that he’s made a puddle of tee-tee and crawled through it, before the bath water has even been toweled off of his chubby legs.  I walk across the kitchen to put away the broom and dust pan and feel crumbs sticking to my feet.  I sweep and mop sixteen times a day and still I turn my back for a second and return to find the baby chowing down on a piece of banana from this morning’s breakfast fling.

I’m thankful for my kids, I’m thankful to be home with them in these little years, I’m thankful for a helpful husband in my home.  I know so many people would gladly walk in my shoes for a day.  But there still are some days when I don’t think I can put one foot in front of the other one more time.

I imagine that no one can understand the total pointlessness of my daily routine, except maybe a person who manually resets pins at a bowling alley (thank you for the idea, Sara Groves).  But even those guys get to go off the clock sometime, right?

What about the craft cabinet, you ask?  Well it was a big mess, and I was in a mood to conquer.  But I still had that nagging sense of futility lurking underneath my burst of productive energy, and I became overwhelmed as I pulled out a bunch of half-finished craft projects and spread them across the dining table.  It felt like a monument to a four-year-old’s short attention span, and I took each abandoned project as a personal insult to my creative efforts.  As I sorted through and organized our supplies, I collected a graveyard of dried-up glue sticks, broken crayons, and used-up sticker pages.  In that emotional moment, it felt like heavy symbolism, and no, I did not melt the crayon fragments into shape molds to express the hope of redemption.

After a while, the table was finally clear again and the cabinet was restored to order, but while I was working on that little task, Jem had found my cache of plastic dishware and had strewn all the pieces around the kitchen floor. I found him sitting amid the mess, munching on something he had found in a dark corner, which I was afraid to even investigate.

Sniffing back self-pitying tears, I shuffled to the bathroom to blow my nose.

Can you guess where this is going?

The toilet paper roll was empty.  I had to change it out before I could even sit down in the bathroom to wallow in a good cry.

These are the kind of moments no one puts on Instagram. After a day like this,  you read one of those “cherish the little years” blog posts from a mom whose kids are in school all day long and you want to rabbit punch your computer.  Even when you know all the right things (and even when you’ve written inspirational blog posts about them!), it’s a daily battle to really believe the truth, deep down, when the rubber meets the road.

I did eventually pull myself together.  I spent an hour in the sunshine and the fresh air.  My mom took Abby home with her to spend the night.  I got lots of sweet smiles from the little saboteur himself that melted away my resentment.  And after a nap-less afternoon, he went to bed early, leaving me alone in a quiet house with some Blue Bell ice cream and my Mindy Kaling book to keep me company.

(After I finished the book, and the pint of ice cream, I was feeling so good I cleaned out my closet before going to bed. And that felt good, too.)

Friends, don’t you know: Life is sweet, and life is hard.  And tomorrow is another day.

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15 responses to “Undone

  1. Hang in there! I know exactly how you feel and although I wouldn’t trade those years for anything, I wasn’t very emotionally healthy through them either. It does get better, but it is ok to feel frustrated right now. You are strong and I’m sure you’ll be fine!

    • Thanks for the perspective. I try to remind myself that “this too shall pass,” and that means both the sweet and the difficult parts of having tiny people in the house.

  2. I am right there with you — I think I’ve had that exact same experience of being completely at the end of my rope, retreating to the bathroom for a short break, and having to replace the &^&*@ toilet paper roll because apparently my husband is incapable of doing it. (He just sets a new one on top of the empty roll.) I feel that way, and I’m at work all day long, not dealing with the kids, but it feels like my time at home is so short that I can never get everything done AND spend quality time with them. (I usually end up shortchanging the housework, which then makes me feel disorganized and stressed.) I’m glad that you got a chance to recharge at the end f your day!

    • Hats off to you for juggling it all and a job outside of the home, too!

      I agree that the advice about letting the housework go to spend time with kids is a bit of an oversimplification…maybe the kids don’t care, but a certain amount of order (and sanitation!) is necessary for everyone’s well-being. So hard to find that balance!

  3. I love it! And I love reading your posts Lindsey. I needed a laugh and some support this morning, and this post definitely took care of both. It’s funny how half-finished craft projects and crumbs sticking to your feet right after you just swept for the 80th time that day feel like personal failures. I’m right there with you! You’re right, a few sweet moments with the littles and all the resentment you felt for a few short minutes is gone.

    • Oh, the floor… and there’s just no letting it go with a crawler/toddler around!

      So glad you’re still hanging around here, Jill! Remember when we used to just sit around and eat fondue and play Imaginiff? Seems like such a long time ago!

  4. Oh, girl! I have been there and not that long ago! I adore my kids but there were true moments of insanity. It seems never ending at the time. Now they are older and self-sufficient in some ways but even needier in others. Who knew motherhood was this challenging! 😉 😛 🙂 Aaahhh! Thanks for being real. And I think you should post those moments on Instagram!

  5. That was from Elizabeth Finkenbinder

  6. Thank you, I needed this today!

  7. Hmm, from where I sit right now, I see three full laundry baskets of dirty clothes and one of clean that’s been sitting there for a few days now. The in-laws are coming, so I gotta get my butt in gear, however in discussing plans this morning for cleaning and grocery shopping with my husband, I could barely get a sentence out without “Mom…Mom… MOM!!!” So here I am enjoying the real-ness of this blog post because yes, you can only take so much of the inspirational stuff without having that add to the guilt/frustration. And I’d rather sit here on my computer, looking for some sort of social outlet or validation, than tackle that laundry! 🙂

  8. Gosh. This is just…yes. I miss you by the way. Pretty much everything about you I find is greatness. Especially the messy parts – cause while our stage of life is very different, I get the messy. I find myself at the corner of need-some-peace and it-just-can’t-come-right-this-minute often. 🙂 Thank you for always being transparent. So uplifting and encouraging – your bravery.

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