Because there is a word for perfection, people will always imagine that they know it.
~Idries Shah, Reflections
I am not the perfect housewife!
There! I’ve said it. My conscience is clear. No longer is the weight of the world on my shoulders because of an expectation that I have always known deep within me I could never live up to. Taking this a bit farther — I do not like every aspect of my job. In fact, there are some things that I have to do that I dread, put off, or completely ignore because I just do not want to do them.
Whew! I feel so much better. Just admitting this has renewed me. The denial I’ve lived with all these years has been faced and “I am healed!”
This revelation however, did not manifest from yet another failing moment as a wife and mother. No, the irony of this is that what made me finally realize this was the paradox of waking this morning to a clean kitchen! Yes, completely clean, pans and all. No dishes in the sink, no pans to be scrubbed, no crumbs on the counter. The kitchen was spotless and ready for a days worth of cooking and mess. This is not typical for our house. This is not the norm.
Most days, by the time dinner is done and everyone is heading off to the family room for rest and relaxation, leaving me with a counter full of dirty dishes, a sink full of soaking pans, and a floor scattered with crumbs, I close my eyes to the mess and join the family. Who wants to be left out of the possibility of a great family moment? Granted, most nights my husband just lays down for his afternoon nap and the kids turn on the television and lose themselves in some pointless show, but they are together. Me cleaning the kitchen while they are all in the same room, albeit in their separate worlds, is something I relate to torture. I do not want to be left out. I want to be a part of the family, not just be there in spirit.
Typically, the kitchen does not get cleaned until the next morning and sometimes not until after breakfast or even lunch depending on who is home and who I’m feeding. In our house, the kitchen is usually its cleanest right before I make dinner. That is when I’ve finally finished scouring all the pans, washing all the dishes, and wiping up all the counters, just so I can start messing everything up all over again while making dinner. A vicious circle of continual mess and unending work. Cleaning the kitchen is one of those perpetual jobs that is never done. No sooner do I clean the kitchen, than someone is in there making a snack, dropping off those dishes from their room or the office that they inadvertently forgot to bring in earlier (actually I think it’s a conspiracy though and they really just want to keep me tied to the kitchen), or it’s time for me to begin preparation for our next meal. Why clean the kitchen, when it is just going to get messy all over again the instant I finish?
Well, for whatever reason, what came over me I’ll never know, but yesterday I cleaned the kitchen before I went to bed, pans and all, and to my delight and utter surprise I woke to the pristine, home magazine photo shoot picture perfect kitchen that I never dreamed possible. It was great! It was amazing! It will probably never happen again.
This anomaly, this one moment, this rift in time when all the planets aligned and the stars shown down on me so I could finally experience what those little Miss Perfect housewives probably experience every day of their picture perfect lives — waking to a clean kitchen, was enough for me. I’m not greedy. Now I can go back to just keeping my head above the ever growing mound of dishes, knowing that it is possible, it can be done, I could be a perfect housewife — but no. I might not be perfect all the time — come on let’s face it, I’m not perfect most of the time — but I’m okay with that choice and am Simply Grateful to finally be able to come out of the proverbial broom closet and proclaim “I am not perfect!”
Perfectionism means that you try not to leave so much mess to clean up. But clutter and mess show us that life is being lived.
~Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life