Mothers’ Day Monday (Let’s Make a Week Out of It*)

This is not what my house looks like.

This is not what my house looks like.

Moved by this brave post by my friend MaryAnn, I would like to confess before you and God that I am the weak sister of housekeeping.  Our home is basically clean and fresh-ish, but I, too, have projects that take forever to complete.  I write this post in our freshly painted living room (Benjamin Moore “New Chestnut” – see photo at left – completed in early April.) But the bookshelves are still empty because I haven’t bothered/had the inclination to put those books back.  They sit in another room in stacks on the floor alongside some random Christmas decorations. No, I haven’t put away all the Christmas decorations.  But I painted the shelves myself which was huge.

It’s high time I admitted that housekeeping is not my thing, nor will I ever be my mother in terms of utter cleanliness.  This is increasingly okay with me.

My mother was imperfect and so is/was yours.  For example, mine never taught me self-care (and I have the autopsy to prove it.)  She showed me so many wonderful things, but I wish she’d loved herself more and taught me that skill as well.  I’m learning it now in older middle age – an age she never reached – from friends and a gifted therapist.

In my head, mothers are supposed to be talented homemakers.  Many of us born in the 1950s had those moms.  I remember reading that Anna Quindlen’s mother caned chairs, for heaven’s sake.  Mine canned vegetables and froze fresh fruit that she picked herself.  Mine sewed my confirmation dress and all my other clothes until it became less expensive to buy them in a department store.  Mine grew roses and planted pansies. She created a wonderful home for us.  She additionally worked outside the home and she worried constantly about not being enough.

I believe it’s possible to create a wonderful home that has dust bunnies under the sofa while working outside the home.  And it’s also possible to create a wonderful home that’s dust bunny-less but has unsightly weeds in the flower beds while being home all day.  And it’s possible to create a wonderful home while being a mediocre cook, a lazy laundry folder, or a lame baker.

What makes a wonderful home doesn’t even need to have a mother living there.

What’s needed is safety and support and people who cheer us on and listen to our stories and laugh about random life events together.  Having someone lovingly mother us and father us is one of life’s excellent experiences.  Everybody should have this.

It’s not about perfect housekeeping, that’s for sure. It’s okay to be the imperfect mom.

*Mothers’ Day is not my favorite “holiday.”  But this week, I’m tackling my own demons and I invite you to consider yours.

5 responses to “Mothers’ Day Monday (Let’s Make a Week Out of It*)

  1. Diane Slocum

    AMEN SISTER! Love it Jan. How was the new clergy retreat?


  2. I’m with you Jan! Hate housework and have beat myself up for years about being so bad at it! Luckily D has grown to be OK with my shortcomings in that area and I try to embrace things I can do well. And I’ve always hated Mother’s Day. Sure do miss our mother’s though!


  3. I enjoy Mother’s Day perhaps because my mother never ever baked, rarely cooked, and felt that reading was much more valuable than dusting. She had a dry wit and everyone enjoyed being around her. She knew that the house had to be dusted occasionally and since we had no dryer that sheets had to be hung on the line. I learned that sheets were states and clothes pins were capitals and that dusting le rampe was more fun than dusting an old banister. This Sunday in my mother’s honor, I’ll probably read a book or think about why I love that the capital of Vermont is Montpelier. (Mom also liked sharing memorization tools and I’ll never forget VerMONTpelier as one.)


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