So I found a pop-tart in my couch this morning. I would like to say it is an uncommon occurrence for me to find food in there, or that I only found a few crumbs on the cushions, but both of those would be a blatant lie.
As it was, during the innocent fluffing of the couch pillows, I saw the sugary offending party peeking out at me in its entirety from in between them. Resisting the urge to scream at my two lovely children (who would subsequently blame each other or the dog, in any case), I removed said pop-tart and disposed of it properly...by giving it to the dog, of course. It was only afterward that it occurred to me this could have been her plan all along.
I tried to think back to my childhood, and whether I would have ever even considered stuffing a pop-tart in my mother's couch. I must say the answer was a resounding 'no'. Everything in my mother’s house was clean, organized and sanitized. It wasn’t a sterile environment by any means, but if you spilled grape kool-aid on the carpet you weren’t going to just walk over it and go back to playing. That kind of thing. Not that anyone has ever done that in my house. Really... *ahem*
Stopping to look around at the condition of my home, I realized that contrary to what is supposedly an unavoidable outcome, I had not turned into my mother. And in this case, that was not necessarily a good thing. Papers covered basically every flat surface in sight; toys littered the floor in a trail from the children’s rooms to the living room. Both sides of the sink – yes, both sides – held dirty dishes that I was still waiting for the kitchen fairy to take care of, and three dirty-laundry bins taunted me from less than four feet away.
How did I let this happen? I am a writer, a stay-at-home mother, and both my children are in school for the better part of the day. My partner works regular hours, so it’s not as if she’s underfoot and preventing me from being Supermom. So what gives?
Granted, I wrote almost 10,000 words on my story this week, but at what cost? How could I ever expect my children to realize that putting a pop-tart in the couch was not a good idea, when all they see is disorder and chaos around them?
“Ah,” said my inner self to…well, myself. “But didn’t you play lots of board games this week? Didn’t you watch your five-year-old’s dollies put on a show twice in a row? And weren’t you at the kitchen table for over two hours helping your son with his homework? Besides, the kitchen wouldn’t be a mess if you weren’t so concerned with feeding them real food, and cooking every night. Is that really such a bad thing?” Myself decided that it was, indeed, not a bad thing.
Maybe a perfectly clean house is not the measure of a good mom, after all. Maybe it’s the smiles on my children’s faces, and realizing that they are really, truly happy little human beings. I decided right then and there I would not even mention the couch incident to them. It was no longer what truly mattered.
Just as I was feeling really good about my laid back approach to motherhood, and patting myself on the back for not overreacting to something as simple as breakfast-food misconduct, my partner walked into the living room. Giving me a hug and a quick peck on the cheek, she walked toward the kitchen for a snack.
“By the way,” she said offhandedly, “I was eating pop-tarts on the couch last night and I think I lost one somewhere. You might want to check the cushions.”
I give up.