Encouragement from a Dish Towel

My mother gave me a dish towel once that said, “Great moms have sticky floors, dirty ovens, and happy kids.” Clearly my mother has been to my house. Not only do I have sticky floors and a dirty oven, but I also have piles of dirty clothes waiting to be washed, clean clothes waiting to be folded, and some kind of unidentifiable slime or putty worked into my carpet.

So given all this mess, I should totally be the proud owner of happy kids, right? Sometimes.

Sayings like this are misleading in making us think that we have to give up one thing in order to have the other. If you spend your days making sure your kids are happy then you live in filth. On the flip side, focus on a clean house and what kind of mother are you?

I want happy kids and a clean house. It doesn’t seem like too much to ask for, but most of the time I can’t seem to fully manage either. The days of the smiling mom who has a toddler on her hip as she vacuums the floor have been realistically (and thankfully) shed from our culture.  But the expectations are still high, so how do we do it all? We don’t. At least I don’t.

Balance is the key word, and while I am admittedly not good at it, I have had to become seriously selective about prioritizing our family life.  Where I was once that parent that obsessed over dressing my child in matching shirts and pants, clean socks, shoes that fit, with brushed teeth, washed face and combed hair, I have now found myself at times just checking for pants. Does everyone have on pants? Yes?!? Well, there you go! Check in the “good parent” column and a pat on the back for a successful day of parenting!

These are usually the same days where I have to carefully plot my way through the minefield of my home to keep from tripping over a light saber or landing squarely atop a Lego piece. (If you have children older than 5 you just flinched from the phantom pain, didn’t you?)

Sometimes life throws us so many balls to juggle that we have no choice but to drop a few. And I am here to tell you that it is okay to drop them. I even have a big ball bucket in my kid’s playroom that I can lend you; its current empty (yep, balls all over the floor.) The laundry will still be clean tomorrow, albeit wrinkled, but 20 minutes of playing with your kids or even 20 minutes of sitting alone in a bathtub are way more important than pressed clothes.  

By the way, that dish towel has made the sad journey to “rag status” as I couldn’t even keep it looking clean and white. So if you are ever lucky enough to be invited into my home, I won’t ask you to take off your shoes, because you might just find an abandoned fruit snack three feet into the door.   But you will not find judgement from me when it’s my turn to visit and your laundry’s done, but your kid has no pants on.