To all the Mother-in-laws of the world: Be like mine.
I recently gave birth to my third and final child. This third kid, zone defense, pandemic life has been HARD. I have raised the white flag and recognized that I have lost all semblance of control. For the first time, I just don’t have enough hours in the day. I have a “laundry couch.” I couldn’t tell you the last time I meal planned. Oh dear, the bathtubs, they have not been scrubbed. I have entered the surviving and not thriving stage of parenthood and it’s my house (and my diet) that is suffering.
Here she comes to save the day! Enter stage right the gift that keeps on giving. I need another onesie in my life like I need a lobotomy. What do I REALLY need? I need a break. I need help. I need for that to manifest into something that can take anything off my plate. So my mother-in-law, yes I understand that they get a bad rap, she’s taking care of me and my family in a way that is actually helpful. She paid for a cleaning lady to come to my house. Every month. For SIX months.
The third Thursday of every month a very nice woman and her crew of angels ring my doorbell. They wipe away fingerprints. They clean the bathrooms. They even dust the ceiling fans. They leave those calming vacuum lines in every room. They spray essential oils into the air that leave me FEELING the clean.
Aside from the fact that this is an incredibly generous gift, and that my house is sparkling clean, it is the break I never really know how badly I need. The relief this provides from the “mom guilt,” the cessation of always feeling the need to rush from one task to another, the permission it gives me to just sit and snuggle my newborn, read a book to my toddler, or have an actual conversation with my first grader; it is priceless.
I don’t know about you, but it’s the daily tasks of my life as a mom that make me feel underappreciated and undervalued. It’s all the things I do every day that no one really sees or knows about even. The constant picking up, the kitchen wipe-downs, the checking that the backpack is packed or my son’s favorite shirt is ready for wear five days in a row. I signed up for this and I certainly don’t expect a medal; my family and I share the load. This gift, this help, it’s so much more to me than a clean house. It feels like an acknowledgment of the energy and love I give to my family and a ‘thank you’ for doing it well. It makes me feel taken care of, like she has my back and understands the load.
It is the gift of time. The one commodity that I never feel like I have enough of. There are never enough hours in the day for me. I should be folding laundry instead of writing this, I’m keeping a running list of groceries in the back of my head and worrying that I should be playing with my son or when the baby will wake up. All of those things are a constant stream running through my mind and it can be exhausting. Today though, today I don’t need to worry about dusting my lamps or scrubbing old toothpaste out of the sink. I don’t need to mop up the evidence of Spring weather on my floors. I had hot coffee this morning and I didn’t once feel like I should get up and start getting things done.