I have a confession to make. [If you’ve been to my house you’ll know it’s not so much a confession as much as its just a simple statement of fact, but confession sounds more snazzy doesn’t it, so okay, let’s just stick to confession]
Ahem. I have a confession to make.
I’m a stay-at-home mom. I love it. [Okay, except for the 6:15 wake up call to a chirpy rooster, and the absolute refusal of a certain someone to share a bite of his Publix cookie ever but all jobs have their jobby job parts right?] It’s not for everyone and I can respect that completely. My current occupation is a combination of a choice I made and the blessing that we can afford to make this choice. Not everyone wants to be home with little ones all day long and not everyone should be and not everyone can be. I know some aunties who smile and nod with approval when I tell them I’m home with my kids, and that’s great, I’m a big fan of approval, but this isn’t something I’m doing because I believe home is the appropriate place for a proper desi wife and mother. I’m home because it works for my family. I consider myself an educated woman with choices. This is my choice.
And I take my job seriously from how I parent, to how I bake [every cookie is researched from ten different angles and tweaked per batch until perfection is achieved] and how I prepare meals [one new dish each week for 2013 and so far mostly good except for the fact that my rotis all mildly resemble the state of Maine]. I build blocks. I head to the library weekly for new treasures and we ogle whale sharks at the aquarium whenever we can and slide down slides when the weather permits. I draw apples. I sing the clean up song. And I pat backs for naptimes. I’m really good at back-patting, so I’ve been told.
Lovely Aisha, you’re probably thinking. These are some awesome confessions of how awesome things are, thank you for being so courageous to share your truths of baking, cooking, and whale-shark watching.
Oh yes, that confession.
So here it is: While we bake, cook, make oblong rotis, and carouse about the city exploring when naps don’t get in the way, there is one area of the stay-at-home-mom equation where I’m afraid things aren’t quite. . . perfect. . . or even close to it.
This is hard to say but okay, here goes: My name is Aisha and my house is kind of sort of not always spic-and-span and clean and neat. What I’m trying to say is: if there was a white-glove test, my house would fail. Spectacularly.
To be clear, we’re not ten degrees short of not fit for human habitation shuttering or anything. I wipe counters, sweep floors, wash dishes, and fold laundry and spend a good few hours a day in the cleaning of the house [I call it the ‘NPR clean’. I put on NPR. And I clean. Why yes, patent is pending]. But on the whole, despite the efforts, if you were to walk into my house unannounced [okay, even announced some days] you will not see a catalog-home. There are dusty crevices, and toys underfoot. There are jackets slung over banisters, and God help me, don’t, really, just don’t open the laundry room where we shove all last minute craziness before a last minute guests pops up to say hello.
Talking about it with a good friend the other day, about this state of the house that is never ever as clean as it seems the homes of others is, and wondering what I could do about it, she asked me if it was really truly a problem. Ofcourse it is, I told her. I should have a perfectly kept house, everyone else seems to.
But she disagreed. She told me I need to make peace with the imperfections of my home because she thinks I’ve made a choice that I’d rather use those minutes to get down to the business of reading, writing, and cooking, and raising the kids and spending time with my husband. Looking past the ever-present veil of mommy-guilt I realized, she’s right. I think so many of us look around at our lives and see all the ways we are not living up to our idealized expectations and don’t give full credit to all the ways we are, in fact, doing great too. And while I would love a white-glove friendly house, I have made a choice otherwise. And this choice is something my family is okay with.
The fact of the matter is, in my house, like the saying goes, cleaning a house while the kids are awake is like shoveling the sidewalk when its snowing [Like yesterday. I smiled with pride as I folded away the last piece of laundry- and turned to see my boys emptying out the drawers of my bedroom chest. They cleared out half in under a minute. Very efficient, they are].
I would love an immaculate home but at the end of the day, I’ve befriended the dust bunnies, and made peace with the fact that Waleed loves to rearrange the pantry in his own organized chaos sort of way. I’m not telling my kids to stop dumping their legos or lining the house with hot wheels. They’re kids. And they will be kids for a very short while. And if I’m being honest, as much of a pain it can be to do a mad-dash clean up when guests arrive, I sort of enjoy their kiddie clutter, a reminder that I have these kids. A blessing I don’t take lightly. And while I have a crazy amount of sincere and profound admiration for those who keep a perfect home while making perfect meals and raising perfect kids [and there are some who do it] for this mere mortal I can only pick and choose and do the best I can.
All this to say, if you visit my home you will have a very high likelihood of encountering freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, a cup of warm steaming chai, and a kiddo who wants to show how perfectly straight his cars can line the perimeter of the family room. But if you’re looking for a white-glove haven of perfection, happily, we are many years from anything resembling such a reality. It’s okay with my husband. It’s okay with my kids. And its finally okay with me. I hope it’s okay with you too.