Monday, April 11, 2011

"Careful the tale you tell-- That is the spell... Children will listen."

I get asked all the time, "How do you do it all??" And my answer is simply, "I don't."

The truth?? My house is almost always a wreck. I laugh (at myself) when I hear people comment that someday the kids will be grown and I'll have all the time in the world to clean/organize/do laundry. I laugh because, I have this vision of Bert and me celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary... I'm running around like a chicken with my head cut off, because as usual, we're late to our own party, and I'm digging through the laundry pile, trying to find my favorite shawl, and Bert's medical stocking for his right leg. I pause in the middle of the chaos, to promise, "One of these days I'm going to get my act together." And Bert laughs because I've never, in 50 years of marriage, had my act together.

Approximately 11 loads of clean laundry is almost always piled up at the foot of our bed. I wish it bothered me more. I really do. For me, I hate folding and putting away clothes more than I like having them folded and put away. Eventually, as the way it goes, Bert will get sick of digging through the pile for two black dress socks and underwear, and he'll suggest we tag-team the mess. I'll agree to it, begrudgingly. We'll sit up, watching a movie, and talk about how it really doesn't take that long to fold and put away three months worth of laundry, so why don't we do it more often.

Besides the never-ending mountain of laundry, our kitchen sink is always piled high with dishes and our living room littered with an array of kiddy cereals and toys. Inevitably, when my house is at it's worst, a friend/neighbor will drop by, and I'll make excuses: "Oh, it's tax season... plus we've been at the ball park four nights in a row... Oh, and we were held hostage this weekend by terrorists. They tied us up on the couch, then dumped out every snack from the pantry, stepped on them, emptied all the toy boxes, then ran off. Uhhh... yeah, that's why my house is a mess."

Often, I joke that it's part of my ministry, to let others see my house for what it is. Several of my friends have confessed that seeing my mess makes them feel better. And I'm okay with that. There is, after all, something quite liberating about letting others see you at your worst. Almost as if, once they've seen that, and they're still willing to hang out with you, you know they must truly love you. Besides, those are the friends that are keepers. The others aren't worth it.

"You're SUPER MOM!"
No. Super Mom I am absolutely NOT.
(See all the above.)
Having a big family does not make me, nor anyone, a super mom. They didn't all just show up one day. We chose to have these kids. We chose to bring them into the world. And now, we're simply doing our civic duty by feeding and bathing them occasionally.

More proof that I'm NO super-mom... I lose my temper daily, I sometimes feed my children Cheeze-its for breakfast, and I allow them to watch Sponge Bob. (gasp!)

Some of the best advice I have ever been given came from a precious lady at church. Mrs. Batchelor raised her own biological children, and was a foster/adoptive mom to many, many more over the years. One day, while discussing the craziness of life with little ones, Mrs. Batchelor said to me, "People always tell you to just take it one day at a time. But let me tell you something... There are going to be days when even that is overwhelming. At times, you need to take it just one hour at a time. Look around and ask yourself, 'What MUST be done right here, right now?' and only worry about accomplishing that, in that moment. If your children know they are loved, and feel safe, then you're doing a great job."

Mrs. Batchelor's words have stuck with me over the years. And often, I find myself doing just that... facing the day hour by hour.

There are many people who have crossed our paths over the years, helping to clear the trail, and make our journey that much easier and more pleasant. These are the people whom I will forever be grateful. Their guidance and words of wisdom have truly been a God send.

My point of this post is to say, please don't ever look at another mother and assume she's got it all together, leaving you with feelings of inadequacy and doubt in your heart. Worrying over all the ways you don't "do it all" isn't good for you or your children.

Just as Mrs. Batchelor said, if your children know they are loved, and feel safe, then you're doing a great job. The rest doesn't matter. A spotless house and freshly-ironed clothes are not memories your children will grow up and reminisce. The lazy days in the backyard, searching for four-leaf clovers and eating sloppily made pb&j's on a blanket while looking for shapes in the clouds are what they will someday mimic with their own children.

One of my most favorite songs comes from the musical, Into The Woods. These lyrics are from the song Children Will Listen, sung (click here) by Bernadette Peters. I love when inspiration comes to me through song.

Careful the things you say,

Children will listen.

Careful the things you do,

Children will see and learn.

Children may not obey, but children will listen.

Children will look to you for which way to turn,

Co learn what to be.

Careful before you say "Listen to me."

Children will listen.

Careful the wish you make,

Wishes are children.

Careful the path they take,

Wishes come true, not free.

Careful the spell you cast,

Not just on children.

Sometimes the spell may last,

Past what you can see

And turn against you.

Careful the tale you tell--

That is the spell.

Children will listen.

To all my fellow perfectly imperfect, non-super mommas, I'm sending you warm hugs. This motherhood gig is too hard on our own. We have to ban together. Happy Monday, and hang in there. It's 9:45 here. And between now and 10:45, I plan to snuggle on the couch with my silly boys. From there, I'll figure out the rest of our day, one hour at a time. Love, ~Holly


The Hills said...

Thanks Holly...I really needed that today!

Brittny said...




I always let people see my house as a wreck. If they don't like it, then leave and don't bother coming back. We wouldn't have been good friends for many reasons, besides my messy house. Right now, my kids are taking a bath (I don't know why) and spitting and fighting and screaming. I don't care. I'm just counting down the minutes until they can have lunch and go to their rooms for rest time. Hoping they will be happy again so we can play again.

Oh, I always was jealous of those moms who have "SUPER BLOGS" and have amazing photographs and make incredibly detailed crafts and wonder, where were your kids during all of this. Or your husband? How much free time do you actually have?!?!?

Finally, I was just cutting the grass while my kids hosed each other down and started dreaming about when we can finally meet and head to the water park together when everyone else is headed home. Just a few more months!!!!! (I really hope you like me!)

mallory said...

Thanks for the hugs! Proud to be a non Supermom! We are just surviving, but oh, how I love my children (and spongebob too)

The Mundies said...

I love this Holly... so true and so inspiring!! Well said! :)

Sara Elizabeth said...

Thank you. That was a nice reminder.

Laura Greene said...

My house is a perpetual disaster as well....but I don't have any kids. I need to work on some good excuses. I like the terrorist one. I might use that.

That and a random bear attack.

Kiera said...

I know some might say, yes my house is a wreck... with 2 dishes in the sink and a bed not made... But I KNOW the wreck you are talking about. No matter how much laundry I do there is always 10 loads to do and 5 loads on the couch that need to be folded.. Toys and crumbs all over the floor and usually someone's left over dinner on the table from 2 days ago.. I'm pretty good about trying to not let it bother me and savor every minute I have with my kids, but often need a reminder that yes, it's ok... They are loved and feel secure even though at times I know there are probably choking hazards on the floor. :) I love you girl and love that you are real!! miss you!