The truth - actually, not THE truth, but A truth, which is to say, MY truth - is that being a stay home mom is wonderful and rewarding and I wouldn't want my life to be anything other than what it is right now. And, it can be pretty hard.
The hard thing for me (at least lately) is based on two simple facts. One, I will never be caught up on anything. And two, all the things I am never caught up on will always be staring me in the face. I live here, I work here, I even school my kids here, so the work, the laundry, the dishes, the cooking, the cleaning, the playing, the picking up, the everything is always right here.
In my face.
Maybe I have a slightly overactive imagination, but I'm pretty sure the laundry in my house has a personality and it likes to mock me. It isn't very nice. I walk into my room a dozen times a day and see the overflowing hampers and think, "Gee, I should really do one or two or thirty loads today." But I was walking through my room, not to pick up the book by my bedside table, curl up under the covers and read for a few hours, but to get something in order to do something else that really needs to be done. So in that moment, I have to pick between doing what I was there to do, or doing laundry. So the hamper stays.
In my face.
I walk through my kitchen a minimum of 800 times a day, as these growing children seem to need a constant stream of calories in order to maintain their skinny little selves. The dishes pile up, and I know I ought to take care of them, but something else always beckons. We were in the midst of painting a volcano or reading Pippi Longstocking or I promised them apples and milk. So the dishes stay.
In my face.
My day is made up of decisions - decisions of how to spend each moment. Do I get this done, or that? Do I spend time here, or over there? It all calls to me. It all needs to be finished. The bills need to be paid, and we all need clean clothes to wear and food to eat, and being able to walk without piercing your foot on a demon Lego piece is also nice. There is always, without fail, too much to do over the course of any given day, so all day long I am deciding, prioritizing and leaving things undone.
What I ought to do is focus on what I accomplished today. What DID get done. But do I do so? No, I don't. I run through my mental checklist of what should be finished, and always find things left undone. I'm fixated on the negative. And the knowledge that tomorrow will be more of the same - more things I won't get to, won't accomplish, won't finish - it wears me out.
I'm not sure what the solution is, really. As much as I love lists, I long ago stopped making checklists that included things like laundry, because you never, ever get to check it off as being done. I've tried being more organized, and I've tried letting it all go and purposefully being less organized. I suspect the key has something to do with embracing the chaos and the mess, and unfollowing everyone on my Pinterest feed that pins things about homemaking and organization.
What should I focus on, at the end of the day, when there are still lego sets on the dining table, a random pile of kid's clothes next to the couch (because Ella simply can't stay dressed in the same outfit for more than 10 minutes), and a myriad of other things that will be demanding my attention tomorrow?
Maybe things like this.
And most certainly this.
Perhaps the measure of my success as a stay at home mother is not the state of my home, but the state of the relationships within it.
Now that is a thought I am going to take to bed with me tonight.