missing the bar

I just love succulents; it takes me so much longer to kill them.

I just love succulents; it takes me so much longer to kill them.

People walk in and often remark that my house is so ‘clean’ even though I have two kids. I think what they mean is ‘uncluttered’ because yes, everything is neat and we don’t keep much that we don’t need or use but no, my floorboards are not supposed to be gray. They’re supposed to match the (mostly) white walls. Now that the babies are here, I want my apartment to be cleaner than ever. And now that the babies are here, I want to spend less time cleaning than ever before. It’s a terrible conundrum, made more perilous by the fact that we live in NYC, a grimy and fascinating place that has perhaps one of the dirtiest subways in the world. Once your shoes have tasted the delights of the subway platform or the urine soaked elevator, I cannot watch you walk on my area rug without my skin crawling. I have a mostly no street shoe policy at my house because I don’t like dirt and I also don’t like cleaning. If you are visiting from out of town, someplace clean like Boston or Denver and somehow levitated to my house, feel free to leave your shoes on.

It’s unfortunate when your circumstances raise the bar on your standards while simultaneously making it impossible to meet those standards. In my pre-baby apartment, I was the proud owner of entire litters of dust bunnies. Mingled with my hair, they would blow about like tumble weed for weeks before I decided enough was enough. Now I have no such luxury, lest my little ones pick them up and eat them like gray colored cotton candy. So I have a much higher standard for the cleanliness of my floors and by all accounts, they are largely free of debris. But if you really want to embarrass me, you can either point out the spit up on my shirt I haven’t even noticed yet or you can take a white glove to the hardwood. Okay, I won’t be embarrassed. I’ve pushed out two babies while at least 8 people watched (the summit of “my shit is not together, in fact, it’s on the table” embarrassment)  so it’s hard for me to feel that emotion again just based on appearances. I’m gonna call that ‘freedom hard won.’

Being a mom forces you to constantly evaluate your standards, your wants, your needs and measure them up to the time you have in front of you. If I’m honest though, this is something I could have used more of in my pre-baby life. Sure having little ones can make everything feel like an emergency, like a race against the clock and bodily fluids. But really all of us have precious little time to live our dreams and it’s too easy to go through life checking all the urgent things off our to-do list while the important ones get pushed further and further down. Sure sometimes part of self-care is ‘getting stuff done’ and ‘watching British period drama’ (the latter is standard for anyone I imagine) but there are lots of things to do and you don’t actually need as much time as you think you do, to do it.

So I’m starting small. Instead of cleaning the shower, I will spend that time writing a little something that makes me feel like me, something that makes me think about what’s important to me. Let’s face it; I was never going to clean the shower anyway (because really is there anything more redundant than cleaning something that makes people clean? Methinks 'no').

Jaime Randall