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Yep y’all…this is my dishwasher. A hot mess huh? I’ve been known to leave one ice cube in the ice tray and not fill it up, which I know completely unnerves some of you.
I’ve certainly traded in some chips to retain my sanity. A spotless house being one of them, which makes my mother cringe. She’d be the first to say that a single mom can absolutely juggle multiple jobs, while maintaining a spotless home, because that’s exactly what she did.
Yes, my mom was the queen of discipline and sacrifice, but she permitted very little time for the pockets of her imagination and heart to play, which I saw in the permanent frown she wore on her face. I remember how infrequently she laughed and smiled. She was always so serious, gripped by calculations and estimates of how we’d survive from month to month. I remember wishing she were happier, hoping she’d maybe meet a nice guy, imagining we’d some day have a “normal” family. My mom sacrificed everything to raise me, so I can’t judge the way she measures successful parenting, which in her eyes is maintaining a clean and orderly home.
You can only imagine the shit I get when my mom comes over to find my dishwasher looking like a hot mangled mess. Perhaps its intentional, as nothing gives my mom a rise like an opportunity to lecture. So off she goes, reading me the chapter on the dangers of neglecting my household duties and how this will inextricably lead to me raising little heathen children.
I wonder if she secretly envies me. Like a part of her is bursting inside to learn what this is that allows me to be okay with messiness. How can I possibly write books, go on dates, travel, laugh, and roll around with my children and be at peace with the tsunami in my dishwasher?
If she ever got around to asking, I’d invite her to recall the time when she was a little girl, when all she did was build gigantic worlds in her mind? When she got messy, climbed trees, and scraped her knees? I’d share with her that for me play is where the heart is. When we play, we are our most creative, productive, and loving selves.
All tasks that I complete, goals that I pursue, people with whom I surround myself are choices weighed by their yield of positivity and play, because this is what ultimately makes me both productive and joyful. If you live by this rule as well TWEET IT!
I’d confess to her that I traded in my hard hat of reason and perfection shortly after my marriage ended. I did everything just as I learned. I kept an orderly home, hustled hard to make ends meet, I aimed for perfection in my marriage, and yet it all came crashing down on me. It turns out control has nothing to do with happiness.
Now that I’m older I’ve come to understand that a home is a reflection of its keeper’s heart. To this day there are still parts of my mom that feel roped off and hidden under a protective coat. It works for her, and who am I to judge. But for me, I’ve made the choice to recall play and creativity to the forefront of my life, which means occasionally letting go of things like the dishwasher and the ice trays. I make a conscious decision daily to buck the urge to control everything, to welcome disorder, and to embrace vulnerability.
What’s one thing that you’d like to trade in for greater happiness—the need to control, self-judgment, perfectionism? Comment below…I’d love to hear from you.
Single Mama Lama
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