As a fairly busy full-time homemaker and stay-at-home mom, I often wondered how women who worked for a paycheck by day and cared for a home and family by night ever found the time to do it all.

Now that I am a member of the legion of working mothers, I can finally and definitively answer that question for myself:

I don’t.

(Apologies to those of you out there who can and have and currently are doing it all and doing it quite well, thank-you-very-much.  Clearly I’m not talking to you.  You are Super Mom.  I’ve heard of you.  You have inadvertently stumbled across the blog of a well-intentioned, intermittently inspired, but *Merely Mortal Mom.  This blog is like yours, but with whining.  Allow me to redirect you: kryptonmoms.wordpress.com.  Be sure to check out their online store for the stylish new Maya Wrap/cape combo!)

Anyway, what was I saying?  Oh, yes…

I miss housework.

Did I type that?  I must have, but I dozed off for a minute there, so I’m not entirely sure.  It’s true, nonetheless.

When I was at home, I did housework every day.  Mostly when I felt like it, with occasional breaks for reading or playing with Caleb or running errands, but with a regularity and efficiency that rendered my weekends completely free for family frivolity and lovely, languid afternoons of shameless vegetating.

Now the dreamlike landscape of my weekends has given way to a strange continent of laundry mountains, flowing with rivers of dishwashing detergent.  I’m playing catch up, but I must not be very good, because I haven’t caught up yet.

When I was working at home, I stayed up until midnight every evening with my night owl husband, nourishing my marriage with long, soulful talks and marathon horde-bashing sessions, knowing that I could always make up for it the next day with a quick doze on the couch when Caleb went down for a nap.

Now I’m the fuddy duddy falling asleep on the couch at nine-thirty, head back, mouth open as if frozen in the act of teaching my kindergarten class the short “o” sound–which is probably what I’m dreaming about.

When I was a full-time domestic engineer, I ran a tight ship.  A place for everything and everything in its place.  Dust was banished.  The toilet was clean.  The kids’ toys were sorted neatly into categorized bins at bedtime.  I cared about these things, deeply.

In recent weeks, I have waded through the contents of an upturned toy box to tuck the kids into bed, stopping only to kick a clear path to the door.  I have been slowly cultivating a science experiment of alarming color in the bowl of the toilet, and yesterday I wrote my To Do List in the dust on the coffee table.

To put it simply, I’m floundering.

I know the most important things are getting done.  I’m teaching, and I love it.  I’m spending time with my children, hugging and playing and reading a little every day.  Paul does help out when he can, and he and I still get some time together every night, even if we are under the gun to get in bed before my coach turns into a pumpkin.  Life is good, and I have absolutely no reason to complain (but when has that stopped me?)

The truth is, I miss my tight ship.  How do they do it, those other moms?

I am such a weenie.

Where’s a super hero when you really need one?

22 responses »

  1. Since we started homeschooling two years ago, I had to get used to a dirty kitchen, mounds of unfolded laundry, clutter that never gets moved, etc.

    I thought that maybe over the summer I would catch up, but that’s when I worked on special projects, and played outside with the kids, and took road trips.

    Now, the day is devoted to everything except housework, and the evening is a time to catch my breath and have a moment to myself.

    In terms of doing “the important things,” however, I think we do have our priorities straight.

  2. I have always had a hard time not being able to do it all. But I have gotten used to just doing what I can and accepting that there will be a mess or two or three somewhere in my house. And just be glad that you only have to share the bathroom with 2 boys instead of 3.

  3. Tree-
    I’m single, have no husband, and it’s all I can do to keep my cat alive and feed myself at the end of the work day. On weekends I’m either spending time with friends, curled up with the latest read, or on a road trip to see a certain someone five hours away.

    I have no idea what I will do when I get married and have children. My mind cannot comprehend.

    I think you are awesome. 😉

  4. Oh man. You are NOT a weenie! You work full time and have a family to keep up with. Me? It’s just me here and I can’t even keep up with myself! It’s pathetic!

    You ARE a supermom, make no mistake! 🙂

    (And yeah! Thanks! Details WILL follow…. as soon as I know them! Pretty much all I know right now is that I have a leave of absence and my job is being posted next week. Where am I going? Don’t know. Who with? Don’t know. To do what? Don’t know! AAAAHHH!!!!)

  5. I’ve often wondered the same things. Before Lily was born when I worked full-time, I barely got the housework done, Working just takes it out of you! It’s tiring! I’m better now that I stay home, but I still barely find time to get it done! My house would be a pile of garbage if I worked fulltime as well! If you want a housekeeper, Lily and I would be more than willing to come over a couple of times a week and clean bathrooms and do laundry. (Lily is GREAT at laundry) You think I”m joking, but SERIOUSLY I would be more than happy to help out a fellow mom!

  6. I have to laugh. I shouldn’t, I know. But this conversation would horrify the feminists who worked so hard for equal opportunity. I love that no matter how much we think we are capable of, at the end of the day, we are all just human. We are women. Our hearts function the same way, we want to nurture and to create a happy home, and we want more than anything to have everything in place so that we can pursue dreams of our own. I love that God put this into us.

    I hear the gentleness in His voice as He looked at Eve in the Garden and told her that there would be pain in childbearing. I think He knew that it was going to be more than just the labor pains we can dull with the epidural. The thing I love is that because of Jesus, He’s able to be with us in all of it, the failed dinners, the undone laundry, the wayside dreams.

    On a practical note, I completely understand your position. I’m chronically ill, and I couldn’t keep up before I had my daughter. My husband has been doing everything when he gets home from work. Right now, we’re having to learn what we can let go and what really has to be done.

    * I don’t have to clean the bathroom every week. Every two weeks is okay. (He doesn’t clean the bathroom.)

    *Getting the laundry into laundry baskets during the week helps keep the place looking picked up. You can do the laundry one basket at a time. Run a load at dinnertime. You can fold the load together while you’re vegging in the evening.

    *We can get away with doing dishes once a day, instead of three times. It’s not our preference, but it gives us a little more time.

    *Getting up an hour earlier (if you’re not already) and getting the bed made or having some couple time or both can really kick-start the day. You’ve already gotten something done.

    *Vacumming can be done once a week.

    Anyway, just a few ideas that we’ve tried. It’s so hard learning to let go. We’re both neat freaks!

    Thanks for being transparent. I laughed when I read your “I don’t.” That’s ME!!!


  7. I knew we have a lot in common the first time I landed on your blog. You know what I feel about this “working mom thing” as you’ve probably read some of my whines in my blog about it. It’s never easy, and I don’y know how others “do it all” either.

    Nothing more to say, just want to give you a HUG 🙂

  8. I don’t know how working moms do it. I think you are all Wonder Women, really. Honestly, I fear ever going back to work because I’m not sure I could function following everyone else’s rules and schedules. The only thing I’d be able to control would be my lunch portions. Boo. 🙂

  9. Hi Katrina, may I suggest the Flylady.
    She is a very sweet lady who offers a free service to teach us S.H.E.’s(Sidetracked Home Executives), stay at home or working, how to regain control of our homes and restore it to a sanctuary for the whole family. She is a lady who has also been there and knows the way out by adding simple routines over time, not like those Supermoms (who eventually meltdown). It doesn’t have to be perfect. You can do it! ; ) You join the e-mail group and she sends you encouragement, advice, etc. It’s wonderful.

  10. You are learning what is most important…the dust will always be there waiting for you to wipe it clean, but really, its not the thing that should demand our attention. And, unless someone is drinking out of the toilet bowl, it’s allowed to be gross 🙂 And, when all else fails, get Paul to get you a housekeeper for your next special occasion! Michael gave me my housekeeping allowance 2 Valentines Day’s ago and it is the only gift that I still actually use every-other-week 🙂 I still say that this was the best gift ever! Nina frees me up to do what I want to do without the guilt of the dirty floors and un-dusted ceiling fans 🙂 I’m telling you, I’d recommend a housekeeper to anyone that works and is stressing out about the housekeeping! Its worth the $$$ – it really, truly is 🙂

  11. Very good writing. I never understood how my mom worked full time with three of us that were not the perfect clean up our room kind of kids. I admire every working mother out there. I watch my sister and wonder how she does it all. I work full time, but have a husband that works at home and the only children we have are dogs and cats. I can’t do it all. My house is dusty, the laundry isn’t done, and Mom reminded me last summer that she doesn’t remember the last time I washed down my kitchen walls! lol. It sounds to me like you have balanced things well. Just use a flashlight so you don’t sprain an ankle when you trip over the kids’ toys as you head them off to bed. lol again!

  12. Katrina, I’m feeling a little like I lured my idealist, poetic dreamer of a friend into the Labyrinth. (Amelia would be so proud!) The bad part, as you already know, is that I do not have the solution to the puzzle. However, you will find your way. Just do not stop dreaming.

  13. Katrina, You, my sweet, transparent, friend are free to not have a clean house all the time. You are free to fall asleep in the middle of a show at 9:30. You are free to clean your toilets once every 2 weeks instead of once a week. You’ve got to give yourself more slack now that you’re teaching those precious souls. You can’t do it all. And I know your sweet hubby and kids don’t expect it of you. Look at all the wonderful new things you’re learning in this phase of life that you didn’t have in those years at home. Housework will always be there (that’s why we have kids! he, he – little, free helpers). Don’t be too hard on yourself. Enjoy the moment – whatever it may be!

  14. I have gone through this transition as well. I was a stay at home mom for nine years, then, after we moved back to Kellogg, I started working, and it was a bit overwhelming. But I just realize I can’t get everything done. One thing that does help, at least get the surface things done, is entertaining. Have people over, have a party…it is amazing what you can get done in a short period of time if you know gets are arriving. LOL!!! A thought went through my head that maybe when my youngest graduates and goes off to college (this will be in 2014), maybe I can get some order back into my life. Ha! Ha!

  15. 🙂
    This is my life right now, too. My thoughts. I wonder if I’ve chosen right some days. On others, I cannot believe I am so blessed as to teach children! There’s nothing better!
    It gets better–the sense of panic. 🙂 By October, at least you’re beginning to get in a routine. But the beginning of the school year is crazy, huh?
    I’ll pray for you as you’re working through what is and what is not priority in this season. And when you figure it out–please blog it! 🙂

  16. I’ve gone back to the workforce part-time recently and I feel the same way you do. I’m consulting in four different schools three days a week and trying to keep afloat in the flotsam and jetsam of laundry, toys, dishes and other assorted household tasks (not to mention all the paperwork that comes home from school!!).

    I feel like I’m swimming upstream…and losing!

    At times I question my sanity in going back to work right now but I love the job I’m doing and it’s a rare opportunity in my field.

    Just wanted you to know you are not alone in your floundering!

  17. I, too, have returned to the workforce and wholeheartedly agree with your blogpost. I have two words for you…housekeeper. Okay, wait, that’s one word. But I’m too tired to care!

  18. Far in the future, when your children have grown up and look back on their childhood, they won’t remember piles of laundry or dirty dishes in the sink. They will remember the reading times before bed, the talks around the dinner table (not what’s on it), and the time you spent with them. As for those “SuperMoms”, I think most of them have housekeepers. 🙂

  19. Sounds like you’re doing awesome to me. You seriously seem like the most fun mom ever.

    Also, I completely agree with everyone else that these “supermoms” have housekeepers. After all, Batman had Robin! The X-Men had a whole TEAM!

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