A lot of parenting and at-home mothering just doesn’t make sense.
Make a bed just to unmake it. Wash clothes just to get them dirty. Eat food just to…get hungry again.
Here is next week’s dirty laundry waiting to get folded and put away.
I watch my kids’ gerbils pursue activities that are just as logical.
This one thinks if it runs fast enough, it will reach the lid and make its NIMH-worthy escape.
This one thinks it can tunnel out if it digs hard enough…through glass.
I like to think that I’m not neurotic when it comes to managing a household–I’m just systematic.
For example, if I have a damp washcloth, I like to use it for wiping surfaces like windows, mirrors or the front of the microwave. So when I get out a clean washcloth, I spray a little vinegar solution on it and quickly wipe the smudges off some nearby kitchen surfaces.
Because I don’t like spattered mirrors, I’ve begun doing something similar in my kids’ bathroom.
Toothpaste splatter? Wipe down with the hand towel I just used to blot up spilled water. It’s not ideal, but I call it “spot-cleaning,” and then it sounds like a good system.
A couple nights ago, my son announced that there was something wet and sticky on the floor. “Did someone pee on the floor?”
“No one peed on the floor. Remember your sister had no accidents today?”
I was so pleased because after being gone most of the time for seven weeks, I had come home to stay with our preemie baby, and I was sure that my toddler was done regressing in her toilet training.
“Don’t worry, Mom, I’ll clean it up!”
I met him in the bathroom and saw the washcloth he’d used. Ah, a damp washcloth!
I scooped it off the floor and sniffed it (it’s gross, but parents do a lot of sniffing of unknown substances).
Smelled like water, so I started wiping down the horribly spattered mirror (my system had broken down with me gone).
My toddler walked in.
Me: “Wait, weren’t you wearing a purple nightgown before?”
Toddler: “Yeah, I peed in the purple nightgown.”
Me: “Uhhh…where were you when you peed?”
Toddler: “Right here,” she said, stamping her foot where we’d just cleaned up “water.”
Hmmm…my wipe-down of the mirrors had turned into a polishing of the faucets and sinks as well.
My system got that bathroom a lot more than a spot-cleaning that night.
And my toddler has resumed making puddles in the bathroom…with me here to enjoy the cleaning up so that she can pee on the floor again…and again.
[Lyrics for title from the song I was listening to when I was in a car accident 13 years ago. It was time for a U2 hit.]