Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Moms Need Physical Help

For the first time in our 16 years of marriage and 13 years of parenting, Ken and I have hired house cleaners.

Ironically, right about the same time we first used the house cleaners, I was beginning the book, Desperate. In a quote from the book's introduction, Sarah Mae says, "Moms don't need instruction manuals, we need physical help."

How true!  I've always felt like I should be able to manage it all.  Cooking varied, beautiful meals 6 nights a week, keeping a clean and tidy home, having clean laundry hung and put away neatly, working part-time, playing with the kids, homeschooling, managing their education, having my "quiet time," keeping up with my professional continuing education requirements, staying involved with homeschool and church groups, maintaining my own health, weight, and appearance, all with time to spare so I can give my husband the time and attention HE deserves.  Just typing that forces me to see how silly it is to expect so much!

If you've been following my blog for a while, you'll know I walked through depression last year.   Most of my depression stemmed from feeling like a failure.  One huge area for me was my inability to keep up with all the physical needs of our household.  I felt there was never any end to the mess, laundry, and places that needed cleaning in my home.  I thought if I were a "good mom" I would be able to manage my household alone.  If I were a "good mom" I would be able to motivate my kids to help me and, together, we could keep the house as a team.

My depression has faded.  After being on meds for about 6 months, I was able to stop.  I thank God for holding my hand through those darker months.  I thank Him for a sweet husband who was holding my other hand. :)

Once we got settled in here in Austin and our routine was down, I was able to just admit that managing everything alone was too much, but managing everything with help would work!  Instead of feeling defeated and giving up on trying to keep the house, Ken and I decided to hire a bi-weekly house cleaning team.  (I must add that Ken is not at all a lazy husband! He takes on extra work so we can get our lawn cared for, he works 40+ hours a week, travels quite a bit, drives the boys to and from school most days, and runs the house on his own any time I'm working.  He gives the boys their bath and gets them to bed most nights  He doesn't have extra time any more than I.)

I seriously want to kiss those ladies' feet as they walk out my door.  I told one of the gals today that she blessed my life.  I'm sure she thinks I'm nuts.  Or maybe she's a mom.  If so, she understands.

I hope other moms will have the confidence to make her needs known in a non-whiney, matter-of-fact manner.  For you, maybe you can trade chores with a neighbor or friend.  Maybe you need laundry help, meal planning help, or childcare so you can take the time to accomplish the physical things you need to do.   Asking for help is an unselfish act!  Continuing to "do it all" to keep up your own appearance of supermom, all the while, growing bitter and resentful of your family and your duties is what is selfish.

This reminds me of the story of Mary and Martha.  Martha is so stressed about getting the physical work done, she grows bitter toward Mary and completely forgets the fact that Jesus...Jesus is in her living room!  Martha needed a change in priorities and she, just maybe, needed a little physical help.  I would much rather spend time with my kids looking at books, playing trains, or jumping on the trampoline than mopping a floor or barking more orders at my family to "help me out already!"

Excuse me, but the cleaning ladies just left.   I'm going to bask in the shiny floor for the few moments it stays that way.
That is a beautiful sight!

Sweet little touches these ladies leave behind.

Goldfish cracker-free.

Sparkling sink? Yes, thank you! And I didn't even have to
follow The Fly Lady's instructions!







7 comments:

  1. I hope my child looks back on today and sees a parent who had time to play.
    There will be years for cleaning and cooking, but children grow up when you're not looking.
    So settle down cobwebs and dust go to sleep.
    I'm cuddling my baby and babies don't keep.

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  2. Oh, So true! I have 4 kids under the age of 5. I'm homeschooling the 5-year old while chasing the toddlers, feeding the baby, and trying to clean... I have also battled postpartum depression. What you said about God holding one hand and your husband holding the other made me smile, because I am so very grateful I can relate to it. This was a great post, and very timely for me. God has used your words, so thank you! :)

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  3. Occasionally I read your posts and I think we live each other's lives. This one is taken directly from my life! I'm glad you have found some "balance!"

    Lisa Jungheim

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  4. Hi Sarah,

    Where we live, women know this, and have known this for generations. Daughters-in-law move in, househelpers are in most houses, oldest daughters take on more "mom" roles as they grow. I'm not saying it's perfect, or that every situation is healthy. But definitely the idea of running the home, cleaning the home, caring for children, going to the market, all by yourself would be the loneliest existence these women could imagine. I'm glad you got the help you need and are enjoying it.

    Blessings to your sweet family! Darla

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  5. I love Darla's comment!

    I always struggled with the idea of paying for a housekeeper. I felt it would not be a good way to steward our resources...wasn't I supposed to be a stay-at-home mom so these things could get done?! And then we moved into this huge blessing of a house, completely with tile floors ALL OVER. Four bathrooms. And God knew...KNEW...I would never be able to keep it clean unless I checked out as a mom, wife, and/or teacher!

    He graciously provided a beautiful situation. On Mondays and Wednesdays, our friend Salvatore comes to play with Tobin and Arden. We help him with his English skills. (Who am I kidding?! Mostly the boys play together, and he learns far more from them than from me as an ESL teacher!) In exchange for this, Salvatore's mom and grandmother, who run a cleaning business, clean my house from top to bottom every Monday. Love. It. With #7 on the way, I realize more and more there is just no WAY I would be able to do this--physically, my body can't handle it during this season of life, and emotionally, I'd be a resentful, bitter wreck!

    Enjoy your help so that you can enjoy your family!! Love and miss you!!

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