Early this week, I brought my girls to their swimming lesson. I watched and cheered while entertaining the baby, who just wanted to be set loose to explore and play. Then I washed two chlorine-filled heads of hair and dried and dressed two damp little bodies before bringing everyone out into the morning that was already as hot and humid as the pool deck.
When I got home, I sat down to nurse the baby. While she nursed, I opened my Facebook feed and saw a message from a new friend asking if I wanted to visit with her that afternoon. A wave of panic washed over me as I thought of the cat fur on the furniture, the layer of dust, um… everywhere, the unmade beds, the unswept floors…. You get the idea. I briefly considered taking a raincheque. But before I could let myself chicken out, I responded to say yes.
Normally, I would have then scrambled to clean as much of the house as possible before she arrived. This day, however, I had promised to make cupcakes with my big girls. (Disregard the fact that it was something like 37 degrees with the humidex.) So we baked. I measured; they poured. They helped crack eggs and stir. They watched the mixer turn everything into a glossy batter, they licked the spoons and beaters until their faces were covered in chocolate, and they watched the cupcakes as they baked. Baking with children is not always fun, but this was. And what a mess we made!
While the cupcakes were cooling, we had lunch. The girls settled in for a couple of shows on Netflix. I was exhausted by this point, so I sat down to watch an episode of my beloved Downton Abbey while the baby napped in my arms. Yes, I could have frantically tried to clean, but my little Punkin would have been cranky and tired (since she refuses to nap in her crib), and I would have missed a rare chance to recharge.
When my lovely friend arrived, she helped me clear lunch dishes from the table so the girls could decorate their cupcakes. I didn’t let myself apologize for the mess… The closest I came was admitting that this is the reality of my life with small children. She readily agreed, reminding me that she has many friends with little ones. She sat down and chatted with the girls as they used leftover Christmas candy and birthday cake icing to cover the tops of their creations. (Funny story: Peanut ate the candy and icing from her cupcake and then attempted to trade it in for a fresh one she had already gifted to our guest. Nice try!) We then ventured down to the playroom to draw and do puzzles, despite the toys, crayons, papers and crumbs that littered the floor.
With three daughters age five and under, things are far from pristine around here. It’s true. It drives me crazy, but I’ve come to terms with it. I could spend every free minute doing housework (and I’m still not sure that would be enough!) but I would miss the joy of raising my beautiful girls. If I want to build community and make connections, though, I need to welcome friends into our home… dirty floors and all.
Here is a quick look at our recent strawberry picking excursion. I wouldn’t miss this for all the perfect homes in the world!