March 5, 2010

Becoming Zen with The Mess

When Beckett was still a newborn and I was on maternity leave, flocks of people came to visit us each week. They brought gifts and food and STAR magazines, and I loved having a revolving door of entertainment during what was essentially a pretty boring time. Don't get me wrong, I loved being home with my baby and I feel nostalgic for that three months together. But in Boston it rained almost every day for nearly all of June and July, so we stayed indoors and I became hooked on

I also cleaned. A lot. Friends came over and marveled at how clean my house was. "How do you do it with a baby?" they would ask. Seriously guys, the kid slept for hours upon hours a day and there is only so much daytime television, book reading, and web surfing a type-a woman can do. So I cleaned and straightened and organized and did laundry and felt productive. I also became a little smug about it. Look at me! I am a new mother and I can keep my house clean. Let me take a moment to give myself a pat on the back.

Even when Beckett started eating solid food(and by solid I mean mashed peas and rice cereal) it wasn't so bad. He was a mess when we were through but my floors looked spotless! What was all this nonsense about babies throwing food? Myyyyyy baby didn't throw food!

Consider me officially taught a lesson. Jim came home from work (he works every other weekend) on Sunday to find me exasperated, tired, and sullen. "I feel like all I did this weekend was clean and do dishes.", I sulked. "Well, that's probably all you did do." Part of my irritation was due to the fact that our upstairs neighbor is having a major plumbing issue, which impacts us in that they have to run a pipe from her apartment through our kitchen. I was anticipating a huge mess, complete with plaster dust (horrible, awful stuff) and wood shavings. We spend 99% of our time in the kitchen with Beckett, so I was dreading this and preemptively cleaning. But the other major part is that Beckett now throws food. Sigh.

I can't tell you how excited I was when he picked up his first puff and put it in his mouth. Hooray! My baby is feeding himself! Awesome, brilliant, amazing, I am freeeeeee! It took him some time to master the art of actually letting go of the food once it got to his mouth, but he got there. When he's hungry, this kid can clear a tray of Cheerios in nothing flat. I'd dance excitedly across the kitchen squealing 'good job!' until my feet hit the first crunch, and crunch, and crunch. Three pulverized Cheerios on a freshly vacuumed floor later and I was starting to lose it juuuuust a little bit. 
Jim takes it hard too because let's be honest here, he is really the one that cleans the kitchen. I just like things to look clean. He actually wants them to be clean. So when he cleans, he cleans. As in, take all the furniture out of the kitchen, sweep, vacuum, then mop the entire floor, dry it, wipe down all counters and surfaces with vinegar and put everything back. I know, he's amazing. But then Beckett throws handfuls of scallop risotto on the floor or wipes his spinach and potato hands along the side of the fridge and we both have to try very hard not to lose it.
He has also gone from doing 'the worm' to really crawling and he is fast! He can get from one side of the den to the other in nothing flat, and his favorite thing to do is head for the pile of books and toys neatly stacked up in the corner and send them tumbling with a swift swipe of his little hand.

Lately I've just felt like I can't keep up with it. But I have to stop, breathe, and give myself permission to have a messy house. I want my child to explore and discover without worrying about making a mess or getting hurt. I have to somehow reconcile the anal part of myself - the part that wants everything to be pretty neat and tidy and gorgeous - and the cancerian part of myself - the part that wants a house that feels comfortable and well-lived. Mostly I just need to accept the mess and not let it take the focus off having fun with my child, at least for now, when teaching him about being neat and tidy is a waste of energy and breath. 

Or maybe it just means watching an episode of Hoarders (A&E) and recognizing that it's not that bad. Deeeep breath.

1 comment:

  1. love it! great writing. and can Jim teach my husband some cleaning habits?!