When this article about What Normal Looks Like went viral, I was torn. On the one hand, I celebrate with moms who feel free from the perfection monster. The need to do it all and be it all and have a sparkling house and a sweet smile while doing it can be crushing. At the same time, however, I felt a little perturbed.
See here’s the thing, I’m a clean mom.
When I read that for most moms normal is “Your sink is full of dishes, your dishwasher is full of dishes, your table and counter are full of dishes, and you can’t find a clean spoon.” I kind of cringed. That does not sound normal to me.
I mean, what is normal anyway? We’ve been raised different ways, in different cultures, by different families. Is there really a “normal” when it comes to home life?
I will say that my sink has been full of dishes with no spoons to be found. That was in throes of Duct Tape Parenting and from time to time, you will most certainly find dishes stacked everywhere. This is me teaching my children to care for our home and clean up after themselves. It’s also teaching them that I am not the maid. But in the days of little ones who could not do dishes, I did them. My husband did them. They did not stack up for days. That was not normal to me.
I remember very well sitting on the couch nursing a newborn with a 15 month old toddling around, and a 5 year old climbing the walls while surveying my home and thinking it would be easier to just burn it all down. We’ve all been there. It’s not easy to be mom and maid and chef and taxi and attentive spouse. I’ve been a stay at home mom for the most part of the last 14 years and in those early days I have no idea how I got it all done. How a working mom does it all? Well that just blows my mind. This mothering thing makes it really hard to keep things clean, but it is possible – not to have things perfect all the time, not to be able to lick the floors with no worries – it is possible to have a clean home, to put the laundry away, and to be a good mom.
I saw this sign at the store and I just about bought it just so I could throw it in the trash.
I’m pretty sure the definition of “good mom” in the dictionary does not say “see also, dirty oven.” My floors are not sticky, and for your information, my kids are still pretty dang happy.
I am the mom that the writer of the Normal post hates. You come to my house and you hate me because it’s always clean. I don’t apologize for it though. What we need are moms who support each other in their normal. I will tell you this, no one person has ever supported me in my normal. Except for my mom, who made me the clean freak I am today.
I have been told that “A clean house is the sign of a wasted life.” And I’ll be honest, it hurt my feelings. A clean house is a priority to me. This does not mean that my kids are being ignored. It does not mean I spend all day cleaning toilets for my own amusement. If I am expecting a play date, I will make sure my house is clean. Not because I worry about what you think but because a clean house is my way of showing respect and being hospitable to my guests. It’s how I was raised. I hear quite often, “Your home always feels so welcoming and warm.” It’s not the candles folks, it’s work.
If I don’t have time to clean my house, then I don’t have time for a play date.
I realize that sentence (and this whole post for that matter) may upset some people. I know, sometimes you just need adult interaction, screw the clean house. I GET IT. I’ve been there! But don’t judge me for having different priorities than you.
I will close with this, I don’t judge moms who relate to the “normal” post. I don’t come to your house and think “good lord woman what have you been doing all day, clean this pig sty!” I know what you have been doing all day. It’s ok. I don’t hold you to the expectations that I hold myself to. I don’t notice your dust and I don’t care if we are eating chicken nuggets off of a paper plate. If I come to your house it’s because I want to see you, not your house. All I ask is that you not judge me and my normal in return. We are all in this together.