On July 18, 2010 my husband Mike and I welcomed Annabelle, the little love of our lives, into the world. She is the sweetest little girl a mother could ever hope for…with a smirk and light eyes like her daddy’s and curly reddish hair that comes from…okay so we don’t know where that comes from. She makes us laugh and love in a way that I just didn’t understand until I became her mom.
With the joys of mommyhood, also comes the chaos. I always (naively) had visions of being able to seamlessly transition from single life, to married life, to mommy life all while maintaining my color-coordinated closet. I would be the mommy whose house never looked like a nursery school. I would be able to teach my little one from the tender age of six weeks how to pick up all her own toys and hang up her own onsies.
See, before Annabelle arrived on the scene I found it pretty easy to have an organized home. After all it was only Mike and me, and we were both pretty good at keeping things orderly…most of the time.
And then we had a baby and everything went haywire.
Ok, so that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but for someone who was used to things being so tidy (think labeled spices) the impact my little daughter had on my organized world was much bigger than I imagined. I’d find myself losing things. Not remembering where I filed something. Mike would ask me where something was and I would stare at him blankly.
Now some of this is pregnancy brain, which by the way, is a very real thing, not a made-up term like I imagined it to be before I became afflicted. And some of it is just being a mom. Annabelle took precedence over everything. It was far more compelling to stare at her sleeping than to remember where I put the receipt for the dehumidifier that now needed to be exchanged. I was happier being a mom than I had ever been before in my life, and if that meant that things couldn’t be as orderly as they once were, then so be it. I’d take a giggle from my little girl over a tidy linen closet any day. No contest.
When I was small my mom had a needlepoint picture that she made hanging in our house. It read:
Cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow,
For babies grow up we’ve learned to our sorrow,
So quiet down cobwebs,
Dust go to sleep,
I’m rocking my baby,
And babies don’t keep!
– Author Unknown
I always thought it was a sweet little saying, but I didn’t fully understand the truth of the poem until I became a mom. Babies DON’T keep. It seems like only a heartbeat ago Annabelle was swaddled tightly in her bassinet…and now she’s all over the place, walking and talking and laughing and dancing…
When Annabelle first arrived, I would find myself having moments of feeling behind and I’d think, if I can just get this done, I’ll feel better. This project…this party…this item on my to-do list…yet as soon as I would get what I thought I needed to get done to feel on top of things, the next to-do would peek around the corner, waving and smirking, spoiling my peace. For the first few months of her life I struggled with this feeling, always trying to push the rock to the top of the hill, only to have it roll back down again. Finally, I realized something…something that to me at least was a huge revelation. I realized that this is just what being a mom feels like.
I will never feel completely caught up. I will never feel like there isn’t a huge to-do list hiding around the corner…or a mountain of laundry…or a precious little girl who needs something from me. And you know what? That’s wonderfully OK. Admitting that I didn’t have it all together, and that I probably never would, was a relief. It meant I didn’t have to stress myself out anymore striving for something that I would never achieve. And when I looked more closely at the prize of order I was aiming for, it didn’t have quite the same shine as it did before Annabelle. Did I really want to look back on Annabelle’s childhood and not feel as though I cherished every moment with her? That I lost even a second with her stressing about the state of our filing cabinet?
It would be nice if I could just end this first post here, but, (yes there is a but coming), letting go and just being is a lot easier said than done, right? And realistically, while some stuff can wait until tomorrow, some stuff cannot. And while I adore the idea of cobwebs quieting down and dust going to sleep, that isn’t really going to happen. It would be nice though, wouldn’t it?
And, the real truth is, I just don’t have the personality to relax and let it all go. I wasn’t programed that way. I see a mess and I want to clean it up. See, I’m the girl who wants nothing more than for you to let me organize your closet. Or alphabetized your CDs. Or label your shoeboxes. Or make swirly little captions for your child’s scrapbook. Or put all of your pictures in photo albums. Or…um, sorry, I got a little carried away there, didn’t I? Where was I? Oh, yes, admitting I’m a bit, well not completely, just a tiny bit…alright fine…I’m not full-blown Type A, but I’m a pretty solid A-.
Yup, there it is.
An ex-boyfriend of mine used to threaten to throw toothpicks all over the table while we were eating, just to see how long I could last with them sitting there without picking them up. I won’t keep you in suspense, about three seconds. Tops.
So, letting it all go wasn’t an option. But things obviously couldn’t be the way they were before The Belle, nor, of course, did I want them to be. I was very happy having a home that looked like a little one lived there. That looked like a family lived and loved and played there.
But, there had to be a happy medium. I wanted my home to be a place for my little family to relax and enjoy one another…a place that made us feel comfortable the minute we walked in the front door…not a place that stressed me out.
Which brings me to today and the start of this blog, my little search for order in a mommy’s world. The dust has settled on my first 21 months of mommyhood, and while things are nowhere near as orderly as they once were in my single tiny studio apartment days, I’m finding a way, little by little, to stay afloat. Most days I’m doing the doggie paddle, head arched up trying to keep my chin above water…and some days I do sink right to the bottom…but then there are those rare occasions when I glide along the surface of the water, Michael Phelps’ style.