Thursday, December 05, 2013

On oblong rotis, the state of the home, and-- confessions

I have a confession to make. [If you've been to my house you'll know it's not so much a confession as much as its just a simple statement of fact, but confession sounds more snazzy doesn't it, so okay, let's just stick to confession]

Ahem. I have a confession to make.

I'm a stay-at-home mom. I love it. [Okay, except for the 6:15 wake up call to a chirpy rooster, and the absolute refusal of a certain someone to share a bite of his Publix cookie ever but all jobs have their jobby job parts right?] It's not for everyone and I can respect that completely. My current occupation is a combination of a choice I made and the blessing that we can afford to make this choice. Not everyone wants to be home with little ones all day long and not everyone should be and not everyone can be. I know some aunties who smile and nod with approval when I tell them I'm home with my kids, and that's great, I'm a big fan of approval, but this isn't something I'm doing because I believe home is the appropriate place for a proper desi wife and mother. I'm home because it works for my family. I consider myself an educated woman with choices. This is my choice.

And I take my job seriously from how I parent, to how I bake [every cookie is researched from ten different angles and tweaked per batch until perfection is achieved] and how I prepare meals [one new dish each week for 2013 and so far mostly good except for the fact that my rotis all mildly resemble the state of Maine]. I build blocks. I head to the library weekly for new treasures and we ogle whale sharks at the aquarium whenever we can and slide down slides when the weather permits. I draw apples. I sing the clean up song. And I pat backs for naptimes. I'm really good at back-patting, so I've been told.

Lovely Aisha, you're probably thinking. These are some awesome confessions of how awesome things are, thank you for being so courageous to share your truths of baking, cooking, and whale-shark watching. 

Oh yes, that confession. 

So here it is: While we bake, cook, make oblong rotis, and carouse about the city exploring when naps don't get in the way, there is one area of the stay-at-home-mom equation where I'm afraid things aren't quite. . . perfect. . . or even close to it.

This is hard to say but okay, here goes: My name is Aisha and my house is kind of sort of not always spic-and-span and clean and neat. What I'm trying to say is: if there was a white-glove test, my house would fail. Spectacularly.

To be clear, we're not ten degrees short of not fit for human habitation shuttering or anything. I wipe counters, sweep floors, wash dishes, and fold laundry and spend a good few hours a day in the cleaning of the house [I call it the 'NPR clean'. I put on NPR. And I clean. Why yes, patent is pending]. But on the whole, despite the efforts, if you were to walk into my house unannounced [okay, even announced some days] you will not see a catalog-home. There are dusty crevices, and toys underfoot. There are jackets slung over banisters, and God help me, don't, really, just don't open the laundry room where we shove all last minute craziness before a last minute guests pops up to say hello.

Talking about it with a good friend the other day, about this state of the house that is never ever as clean as it seems the homes of others is, and wondering what I could do about it, she asked me if it was really truly a problem. Ofcourse it is, I told her. I should have a perfectly kept house, everyone else seems to. 

But she disagreed. She told me I need to make peace with the imperfections of my home because she thinks I've made a choice that I'd rather use those minutes to get down to the business of reading, writing, and cooking, and raising the kids and spending time with my husband. Looking past the ever-present veil of mommy-guilt I realized, she's right. I think so many of us look around at our lives and see all the ways we are not living up to our idealized expectations and don't give full credit to all the ways we are, in fact, doing great too. And while I would love a white-glove friendly house, I have made a choice otherwise. And this choice is something my family is okay with.

The fact of the matter is, in my house, like the saying goes, cleaning a house while the kids are awake is like shoveling the sidewalk when its snowing [Like yesterday. I smiled with pride as I folded away the last piece of laundry- and turned to see my boys emptying out the drawers of my bedroom chest. They cleared out half in under a minute. Very efficient, they are].

I would love an immaculate home but at the end of the day, I've befriended the dust bunnies, and made peace with the fact that Waleed loves to rearrange the pantry in his own organized chaos sort of way. I'm not telling my kids to stop dumping their legos or lining the house with hot wheels. They're kids. And they will be kids for a very short while. And if I'm being honest, as much of a pain it can be to do a mad-dash clean up when guests arrive, I sort of enjoy their kiddie clutter, a reminder that I have these kids. A blessing I don't take lightly. And while I have a crazy amount of sincere and profound admiration for those who keep a perfect home while making perfect meals and raising perfect kids [and there are some who do it] for this mere mortal I can only pick and choose and do the best I can.

All this to say, if you visit my home you will have a very high likelihood of encountering freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, a cup of warm steaming chai, and a kiddo who wants to show how perfectly straight his cars can line the perimeter of the family room. But if you're looking for a white-glove haven of perfection, happily, we are many years from anything resembling such a reality. It's okay with my husband. It's okay with my kids. And its finally okay with me. I hope it's okay with you too.

7 comments:

sprogblogger said...

:) I was just considering this the other day. I like your take on it much better than my wailing & gnashing of teeth.

bongi said...

I hope i can find this zen too!!! Being the daughter of an absolute domestic goddess, i have always felt under pressure to be able to juggle work, daughter, house, and of course desi cooking, cleaning ironing etc. My mum always used to say your house should be spick and span....because what if someone arrived unannounced...oh the shame! As time has gone on, funnily enough, when i tell my mum things like "i count K's lego before i sleep at night to make sure its all complete and in place" she now tells me to just forget it and chill out, as she spent her life cleaning and tidying and counting our lego blocks, and really it didn't do her any good! This is so weird to hear from my mum! I have friends here who despite having 2+ kids have an immaculate house whenever i go around, and i *really* wish i could do the same. I have tried...i just can't!!!!! They tell me they wake at 5am to clean, so that they don;t have to do it in the day......they then make breakfast, get kids ready, do reading with the kids, drop one off at school, do arts and crafts but clearing up as they go along all day, keep the kids amused and entertained without an ipad or telly etc, and have a clean house ALL THE TIME. WHY CANT I DO THIS?????? I am trying to find a middle ground!!!!! I have reluctantly stopped ironing my daughters night clothes, and my own, and instead of leaving things piling to sort out once she is in bed, i try to do them as i go along, but ya know what? Im flipping exhausted either way!!!!!
Anyway good to know its not just me that has the toys lying around whilst i am baking/cooking/trying new recipes etc etc!!!!!

Fatima Siwaju said...

I absolutely enjoyed this! and no, I am not a mom yet, but your house reminds me so much of my sister's! She has two kids and things can get chaotic. I remember once I cleaned her living room from top to bottom. It was back to messy in less than an hour lol.

Anonymous said...

if people's goal is just to clean all the time, i would say they have nothing better in their life to do.also if other houses look clean when you visit, they were cleaned because guests were coming. A clean house is not always a happy home. we need to have our priorities in line.For a writer and full time mom like you , cleaning should be last thing on your list.

Haus Miller said...

I'm still in the feeling guilty for a less-than-immaculate house. I could forgive myself when I was working full time, but I haven't been able to let the guilt go since I've been a stay at home mother these past 2 years since we moved to Germany. I so very much want the desire/passion to just clean and organize everything, to model that behavior for my children, but it is simply not my personality. I almost have to fight with myself to do basic stuff some days. Our house is not filthy dirty, but it is cluttered and messy - full of joyous life with

Haus Miller said...

2 small daughters.

It glitches on me and wouldn't let me finish typing the end of my sentence.

Dreamy said...

I can relate as the daughter of someone who seemed to do it all, and who, like Bongi's mum, now tells me not to worry, or to get my husband to help out more lol! I think for me the pressure is more that I live with extended family so there is constant pressure for the house to be tidy - and worst - it is unsaid pressure. So anywho, don't pressure yourself, you are who you are and you're doing great I'm sure. If your boys and your husband are happy, that is the greatest testament you have to the fact that you are doing well :)

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