I’ve put cleaning on the back burner since I became a mom. Not 100% but enough for my husband to notice. Not because I was tired, not because I was lazy, but because if I’m cleaning, who is spending time with the kids? I know what you’re probably thinking, I also know there is probably an article somewhere about it, because lets face it, there is an article analyzing every decision you make as a parent- but yes, I spend my time mainly with my kids. I cannot tell you if it’s healthy, I cannot tell you if it is making them dependent, independent, sensitive, tough, I cannot tell you any of that, but to each their own, and spending my time with my kids rather than cleaning, works for us.
Lets fast-forward to this past week. The week I blew up on my husband for not spending enough time with the kids. For not being home until 5pm (the exact time we get home), for cleaning, for cooking, for paying bills. No, I did not say out loud “I cannot believe you cook, I cannot believe you clean, I cannot believe you pay our bills”. But I said “when you are home, you aren’t always present.” So for the last 3 years (plus some months) lets pretend he spent the same time with the kids that I did. What would be wrong with that picture? The house would be filth, the food we ate would be something fast and unhealthy, and we wouldn’t own a home due to bills not being paid. It wouldn’t work. So what he saw was what I let go of when I became a mom, and he picked it up. I never asked him to do this, he just saw a need and he did it. That brings me to spending time with the kids-the place where the need is being met by me. A man (well the men I know), do what is needed-not out of emotions but rather out of the knowledge that it just must be done. That is where my husband and I differ- pretty much everything I do, I do with emotion. I don’t tell you “no” that I can’t do something without feeling nausea from guilt, I don’t spend time with my children because I read that it does something to their brain, I do it because my heart is all there and that is where I choose to spend my time. Yes, the balance probably sucks. It might be unhealthy, it might even be an obsession, but it works for us..most of the time.
Once I realized exactly what I was picking a fight about, I decided I needed to come up with a solution. While I would have loved for the solution to be to pretend the house will clean itself, I knew that wasn’t possible. The solution might change on a daily basis, it might stay the same for a year, but what ever we do, we will do it because it fits the needs and structure of our family. Tonight I told my husband to go play with the kids while I vacuumed and mopped the floors. A night last week I might have said in annoyance “can you just go play with the kids?” But you can’t have your cake and eat it to and in this situation my cake was “time” and the eating was cleaning. My disappointment in my husbands time spent with our kids wasn’t fair. Because what I didn’t take into account was quality vs. quantity. Yes, I have more time with them, my quantity of moments far exceed that of a parent who works away from their child, but am I always mentally present with my children? Absolutely not. But when my husband comes into the playroom and sits on the floor with those kids, he IS present.
Life is about balance. It’s about learning how to juggle the duties of being a wife, parent, daughter, friend, sister, and an overall good person. It’s about making mistakes and then learning from them. It’s about spending your time the way you feel is right. It’s about taking each day as a gift and living it in a way that only YOU can live it. Without my husband doing every single thing he does, our life wouldn’t be the one we are living, and while it is far from perfect, it’s perfect for us.
Time is a sensitive aspect in lives. It either goes too fast or it goes too slow. It can put you at ease or put you on edge. Some people have too much time while others don’t have enough. But what is most important about time is how you spend it, who you spend it with, and what you spend it doing. The amount of time my husband has with our babies didn’t change, but the quality of it did. Because I learned to balance a little more this week and a balanced life is a healthy life and in the end it wasn’t him who needed to balance his priorities, it was the 5 foot nothing Mom in the mirror who lost herself 3 and a half years ago and who needs to just find a mop.