Apologizing for the Mess
by Anne Metz
When you have a new baby and you are blue, blind, paralytic exhausted and don’t have the energy or thought to even take a shower, think about these words by writer and mother, Anne Metz.
At this moment, my house is a mess, more than a mess really, it’s a disgrace. The dishwasher needs emptying, the breakfast dishes are piled in the sink, and the crockpot is sitting out, “soaking” with greasy soapy water. There are two loads of laundry dumped on the couch that need folding and the remains of a pretty awesome pillow fort are strewn all over the floor.
This wouldn’t be a big deal except that a friend just texted me to ask if she can stop by in a few minutes to drop some clothes off for the triplets. How can I say no? We love hand-me-downs.
A few years ago, I would have apologized profusely for the mess as I let my friend in the door. I would have explained, in detail, all the very good reasons I had for the place being a mess. You know what else I would have done? I would have apologized for the “mess” even if my house was clean. I would straighten and scrub before inviting people over and still apologize as my mom friends walked in the door.
I’m not even sure why I was apologizing.
Did I imagine other women kept their house cleaner and neater? Was I worried that they were judging my home? I think it had something to do with me trying to present myself as a person who was in control of the chaos that is my life. Then I think it just turned into a habit.
I’ve decided to stop apologizing. I think you should too.
A few years ago, I took my son over to play at a friend’s house. It was his first time there and my first time meeting the mom. They had just moved in and the mom was in the middle of painting a bedroom. There were kids running around the house jumping over toys and shooting nerf guns at each other. Painting supplies and boxes were scattered throughout the house. But there were no apologies. The mom simply stated, “I’m painting today; I’m so excited about how the room is going to turn out.” In the past two years, I’ve been to their house a few times and seen it in many stages: neat as a pin as I’m dropping my son off for a birthday party, happily messy as I’m picking my son up after the party and everything in between. Not once has this mom apologized for the state of the house and why should she?
Aren’t our homes the same? Cluttered and chaotic when we put chores aside to play with our kids, when we decide we need to catch up on our latest Netflix binge, or because illness has hit our homes. Sparkling and smelling fresh after a Saturday scrub down or in preparation for a party. We live here and our space reflects that our kids, our jobs, our busy lives.
So I’m not going to apologize anymore! I’m just going to live in my home, stop caring what others might think and break my habit of apologizing for the mess!
If we read the labels on cleaning products we find long strings of words we have trouble pronouncing and zip knowledge of. If we look those chemicals up on the EPA website (please do), they turn out, in many cases, to contain carcinogens, pesticides, and endocrine interrupters. Did you now that the single most toxic item in your home is dryer sheets?
Essential oils are the answer. I’m going to show you which ones and how to use them and in the meantime save a LOT of money.
What Doulas want for you is to have your “Baby Moon”, which is four full weeks (the length of a lunar cycle) in bed, with your baby and partner, to rest, to heal, to bond, to nurse and to establish a routine. Baby Moons were fully possible in the old days when women were not working and families lived close together and could help at every turn.
Modern mothers don’t have the opportunity for four weeks in bed with their new baby. But what can be salvaged of that ideal time? First, realize that the entire purpose of a babymoon was for you, mom, to heal. Your body has been through a lot. Just because birth is as common as daylight doesn’t mean it is a small event. It is an enormous event, and YOU did it, and you need to recover.
The babymoon honored the fact that mom’s body had been pushed to the limit. After the “big event” you get very little and very poor, sleep. The nature of your relationship with your mate has changed. The relationship with your parents has changed. The relationship with your other children has changed and YOU are navigating all this as best you can with no instruction book. Let’s pause for a moment. Breathe. Breathe again.
Let’s talk about your relationship with your mate. Understand that your mate’s role is not as clear to him/her as yours is to you. YOU are the mama. You are baby’s go to. It’s just natural. Babies have no agenda. They don’t wake up in the morning and think, “I’m just going to ruin mate’s day and cry every time he/she looks at me.” No. So while you don’t have a whit of energy to prop anyone else up, you must be compassionate to your mate. Mate really, really wants to help and to do it successfully. So, when your mate jiggles the baby more roughly than you think is good, DO NOT take the baby away from him/her. That devalues your mate’s efforts. When your mate lays baby flat in his/her arms to offer a bottle of breastmilk, Do NOT take the baby away from him/her. Simply tell your mate that babies have fewer ear problems if they are propped up when the drink from their bottle. Reinforce your mate’s efforts when you can. Praise his/her attempts.
NOW, speaking of mates, this is the number ONE rule! You must, you are required to, you must swear to put date nights on the calendar. Your relationship with your mate can deteriorate SO FAST when a baby comes (simply because your mate doesn’t have the slightest idea what their correct role is) you must nurture your romantic relationship. Put a date night once every two weeks. And here is the rule for date night. You cannot talk about the baby. Every other waking moment of your life with your mate is about the baby. Date night is about each other, and being romantic, and continuously rediscovering WHY you fell in love in the first place. Do it.
Now let’s talk about the Grandparents. Whew! Fasten your seatbelts.