I wasn’t that great of a mother on Friday.
I discouraged all creativity. Anything that required using actual household stuff was forbidden. No toys were to be played with. I limited snacks to non-crumb foods. I encouraged the kids to do alternative play – like sit on the couch and count floor tiles. They played I Spy for a bit. But we couldn’t do it all day!
But I was a good house cleaner. The house was cleaned, just the way I like it.
All week I work towards the goal of a calm Friday afternoon; with all the Shabbos prep that has to be done, there are lots of opportunities for it to be a not-so-calm day. So as I go about my week, I plan, plan, plan so that Friday will work they way I like it.
And the secret that make it work is my house cleaner; she comes and puts the house back together after I’m done with the cooking. And there’s a lot of cooking. And a lot of unsupervised play.
But it works. The kids are happy, I’m happy, my husbands happy and I bet the house cleaner is happy too; it’s a calm day for everyone.
This past Friday was different. The house cleaner wasn’t coming. I had two choices; hire a fill-in, which means following her around the house giving directions; not something I had extra patience for; or do it myself. I chose to do it myself. Turns out I’m a pretty good house cleaner too, if that was all I needed to focus on.
But it also turns out, that you can’t do it all. I can’t say for certain that my kids were all that well cared for.
You can have happy kids. You can have a clean house. And you can be sane. But from my experience, I can’t get all three if I’m doing all the work.
The way I see it, there are four ” seasons” of a mom’s perspective on cleaning help.
There’s the help-I-need-more-cleaning-help season, where it seems like everyone I know has more help than I do and it’s just not fair!
Then there is the guilt-starting season of maybe-I’m-just-lazy-and-I-really-can-do-all-of-this-myself season, because so-and-so does it all by herself...but that’s usually followed quickly by the well-she(this time yet another mom)-has way-more-help-then-me smug feeling of I do do so much myself…
But that one usually follows quickly by the help-I-need-more-cleaning-help thoughts…
You get the idea!
I can go through all four “seasons” in one hour.
But after walking the walk of the cleaning lady last Friday afternoon, I think I have enough proof to counteract those moments of second guessing my dependence on my cleaning help; yes, I have cleaning help. Yes, I need cleaning help. Yes, I rely on my cleaning help.
But on the flip side, I’m also sane. My kids are happy. So is my husband. And so is my house cleaner.