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Perfecting the Art of Dirty Dishes and Missed Naps

Affiliate Disclosure | in Motherhood | by | with 20 Comments

Back when Katie was little more than a short stack of fat rolls I developed a rather curious fantasy.  In my imaginary world all kids came with three switches on their backs: Sleep. Eat. Play.

Need to catch a few more zzzz’s? Sleep.

Broccoli not disappearing quickly enough? Dial up the Eat

Want to get out of your pajamas and look like a human being? Set the timer for 15 minutes on Play

I really wanted that sleep dial.

For the first year of Katie’s life I felt like I was drowning. Trying to work part-time from home meant conference calls while breastfeeding, putting Katie down for naps while going slap happy on myself to stay awake and starting dinner when I heard Daddypotamus‘ key turn in the front door at 6pm. Not that dinner mattered to me by then, anyway. What was important was that my giant yellow life raft of a husband arrived just in time to keep me from drifting down to Davey’s locker.

Why am I rambling about switches and life rafts? Because I recently ran across this brave and vulnerable post by a new mom:

. . . I have always wanted to be a mom. I remember in 8th grade we all wrote what we wanted to be when we grew up. I still have that piece of paper. It says, “Caitlin Shaughnessy wants to be a housewife and a mom.I never made a very good feminist.

But I somehow missed the boat on how difficult it is to have a newborn baby. Not many people talk about what can happen to your psyche when you’re extremely sleep deprived. Waking up in the middle of the night at 1:30, 3:30 and 5:30 is exhausting. My entire body ached from the birth experience and learning to breastfeed.

All the images I had of parenthood included parents feeling an overwhelming love for their children. However, when Denver was about a week old, I tearfully admitted to Austin that I thought I didn’t love Denver enough. He just demanded so much, I was so hormonal, and I didn’t have all those ooey-gooey feelings that people seem to get for their babies.

Caitlin H (emphasis mine)

Do you not just love this girl for her honesty? Her words took me right back to the beginning of it all. A time when I felt shame at my resentment over the sleeplessness and loss of freedom. The days when I thought being a good mom was about perfecting the art of balance . . . not learning to smile with eyes that burn with exhaustion, serve oatmeal for dinner and throw dirty dishes in the oven when company stops by.

If babies really came with switches I could avoid having to pick Katie up like a football and bolting out of the bed when she starts to bellow in her sleep (Micah is three feet away, sleeping). I could have actually removed the toenail polish I put on for Micah’s birth instead of slowly watching it chip away for four months (perfectly clean now, but those cuticles, yikes!).

A lot of things could have been different, but I’m glad they weren’t. Because honestly, the long stretches between shimmering moments . . . those are the fields where love is grown. Those days when everything went wrong which I would have fast forwarded through without a second thought are where I won every ounce of patience I have gained. I’m still in the pajamas I wore yesterday and haven’t taken a shower yet, but I wear the glow of someone that is learning to love. And so do you.

Good job, mamas!!! (because we all need to hear it once in awhile :))

**Thanks to Caitlin for letting me share part of her story. For an update on how she’s feeling these days check out her letter to her son.

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20 Responses to Perfecting the Art of Dirty Dishes and Missed Naps

  1. Tweets that mention Perfecting the Art of Dirty Dishes and Missed Naps « The Mommypotamus -- says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Heather Dessinger. Heather Dessinger said: Perfecting the Art of Dirty Dishes and Missed Naps (via blog) […]

  2. Amy McDaniel Botts via Facebook says:

    I’ve put dishes in the oven, too! :). And sometimes (okay, a lot of the time) when toys (and whatever else) are all over the place, I threw everything in a laundry basket (very large) and put them in our master closet-because no one’s gettin’ in there! :)

  3. Kate C. says:

    Dishes in the oven….I’m going to have to remember that one

    • Heather says:

      Mmm, hmm. Actually, having to clean for showings last summer opened up a whole new world of shortcuts for me. Too bad I don’t have time to start a blog called “How Not To Clean Your House.”

  4. margo says:

    I tell guests….” I know everybody’s house isn’t perfect all the time and neither is mine”. We are normal!

    • Heather says:

      Me, too! I only put dishes in the oven when the sink is completely full. And I like to leave toys scattered throughout the house like boobytraps to add a little “young family” ambiance! :)

  5. Elisabeth says:

    Thanks for this. I needed that.

  6. Leah says:

    A good friend of mine has a sign plaque on her front door that reads, “Please excuse my house. It doubles as our home” I’ve always loved that! I have also thrown dishes in the stove (my husband thought I was a crazy woman the first time her saw that :>) ) as well as filled the bath-tub with laundry baskets full of dirty clothes before pulling the curtain closed and re-filling the dryer with mounds of clean laundry that somehow have yet to be folded. But I am learning that there is something beautifully authentic about being known – saying, “This is me. I hate to fold laundry and if you just stop by, you will likely see a pile of clean clothes. And my kids live in pajamas. And I hate to mop but love to cook so both my floors and counter-tops are likely to be covered but come in, have a cup of tea. Your heart will be safe here”.
    I baked tonight and the Little Miss “helped”. It took three times as long and the result wasn’t nearly as neat and clean as I would have liked. But we talked and she told me stories about preschool and her friends and her dress and her braids….and it was good, really good. (And yes, I am still in my pajamas as well) :>)

  7. Jen@Dear Mommy Brain... says:

    I love Sandra Boyton books… And your blog!

  8. Julia @ Natural Parents Network says:

    This post reminds me of that movie with Adam Sandler (“Click” I think) where he fast forwards the parts of his life that he doesn’t like and ends up making a mess of things. All of those hard moments are what make us as people. Like you said, “Those days when everything went wrong which I would have fast forwarded through without a second thought are where I won every ounce of patience I have gained.” Without the hard times, we wouldn’t even appreciate it all I don’t think. I’ll admit, it’s hard for me to say I’m glad for all those weeks upon weeks of a colicky screaming and the months of bad sleep but I know it’s grown me as a person and heightened my love an appreciation for my little girl.

  9. Alexis says:

    I can totally relate with the Caitlin in the first weeks after my daughter was born. No one prepares you for the hormone roller coaster you’ll go on after having the baby. People would say sleep, sleep, and sleep more but no “hey you’re gonna be a crazy lady for a few weeks”!

    Most of the clothes in our house can usually be found on the bed in the spare bedroom :)

  10. Genevieve Mama Natural says:

    Now there’s an idea! I never even *thought* of putting dishes in the oven! LOL! Good to know for future emergency circumstances :).

  11. Dani B says:

    My usual line when people stop by and my house is wrecked (which is most of the time) is “Hi, pardon the mess but we live here!” and my 5 kids are grown plus 9, 8, and 5. I own two businesses that I work hard at so my house gets the very last of my time. I never cared much for a perfectly clean house because it takes too much time away from the fun in life. I don’t even have the desire to stuff dishes in the sink. Ok, well, maybe I did a couples times. 😉 Raising kids does do something to your sanity for sure. It can turn even the most mild-manner adult into a raving psycho. Or maybe that was just me. Either way, we all have regrets along the way but that’s perfectly normal and more new parents need to know this, not just the moms. Dads need to understand the Jekyll and Hyde their wives can become.

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