Sometimes all this housekeeper mom needs is a little validation

Nov 10 2011 - 12:44am

Yesterday afternoon I laid in my bed, fully clothed, and all I wanted to do was pull the covers over my head and forget about All The Stuff I Have To Do.

This house I love. This house feels like home. But this house is so big and so much work that I've officially been downgraded from Homemaker to Housekeeper. Aside from my desperate, last-ditch Halloween craft efforts, I have no time to sew or finish unpacking. My dinner attempts are sparse and uninspired, and every time I walk into a room, I'm slammed with the realization that I am living in a messy black hole that will suck the life and the Lysol right out of me if I'm not careful.

Early this morning, I took June into the village preschool and came back home, where I accidentally caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. Um, when did I forget to brush my hair before leaving the house? It was literally sticking up all over my head. No wonder all the Germans were staring at me. (I like to pretend it has something to do with my personal charisma, but I'm suspicious it has more to do with my personal cleanliness.)

I think the realization that no matter how much I clean or how much I try to make things look nice, my frequently innocent little people are always right behind me undoing all my hard work. Trust me, with this many stairs in a house (45), it is most definitely hard work. (As I type this, my baby Gigi is happily throwing all the pillows off the couch and shredding yesterday's newspaper ads.)

That's how I found myself fully clothed, boots and all, laying in my bed with a driving urge to pull the covers over my head and play vampire. I resorted to No. 4 on my How To Cheer Myself Up list and called a girlfriend (No. 3 is "put cute boots on").

"Hey, how are you?" she asked, and because I knew she meant it, I told her.

"My house is too big, I'm having anxiety about cleaning and packing and unpacking and everything else, so I'm hiding in my bed and I don't want to get out," I said.

"Yeah, I do that sometimes."

And just like that, I felt way better. Seriously. I can't describe to you how fantastic it felt to have someone validate my feelings, and better yet, remind me in five easy words that I'm normal. There are other moms out there who feel like me. I'm not alone.

Without too much effort, I was able to rejoin the household and spent the rest of the day reminding myself, out loud, about the advice my mother gave me a few years back when baby No. 3 hit the scene: For the next 15 years, there will be very few moments when all my house is clean all at the same time, and That's Okay. I might hate it (passionately), but I wouldn't trade it.

This morning I decided to put down the mop, literally, and take a moment to actually write something. I have to live in this whale, but that doesn't mean he owns me. This is the first time in I don't know how long that I've sat down and written something just for myself -- it's not for a deadline or future posterity -- and it's nearly as good as finding a bathroom in the Mall of America after three Diet Cokes.

Speaking of doing something for myself, I have got to find a yoga class. And a toothbrush. Maybe I should start with the latter.

Annie Valentine is a wife, mother and columnist. Readers can contact her at or visit her blog at

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