There’s been a lot of talk lately about “alternative facts.” Personally, I’m not a fan, but since this term has made its way into our vernacular, I feel like I might as well use it to my advantage.
Every summer I think, “This is going to be my relaxing summer … my get sh*t done summer! It’s not going to be like last year’s summer where I barely cleaned out the backpacks, went to the Shore twice and all of a sudden we were feverishly trying to finish math packets.”
I had the most glorious of plans! I was going to clean out the basement and have the mother of all yard sales, earning enough money for at least one of us to fly to Europe. I was going to teach my kids another language using those Rosetta Stone discs, positive that all my hard work would pay off and my kids would impress all the moms in the school pick-up line by speaking to me in Italian or Latin (my parents gave me that disc for free). I was going to get them up at 6:30 a.m., teach them piano, have them read one current event article a day and be at work at 8:30 a.m. feeling like I had done my motherly duty, while they finished up the dishes and laundry on their own.
Ha! Ha! I say. What was I smoking?!!! Why do I do this to myself? Why don’t I start the summer with the lowest of expectations and then be surprised when someone showers before 10 a.m.? Or celebrate when my house doesn’t smell like moldy bathing suits? I can’t do it! I literally can’t keep up with myself. Nobody did this to me. Nobody told me I had to teach them anything, or make them better people. I did this. All by myself; like an idiot!
It’s usually around this time of the summer that I realize I did nothing, I barely know where my kids are and not only did they learn nothing, but I think they actually might be dumber! I have not taught them another language, piano or reading comprehension. In fact, I haven’t really spoken to them at all other than to say, “Where are you going?” or “Where have you been?”
I think my failure as a mother hit me when I was laying on my couch, too lazy to get up, waiting for one of them to walk by my lifeless corpse, while quietly mumbling, “Can you make me lunch? I’m just so tired.” What? When did this happen? Maybe this is the circle of life. Maybe there is a scene in the Lion King that I missed where Simba’s dad is so tired (and not dead yet) where he just wanted that kid to make him a sandwich.
I know I’m making excuses. I know it! I’m just so tired. Having kids at home all day while still trying to run my company is exhausting. So, I’ve decided that the only way I can deal with myself and my self-inflicted ridiculous standards is to lie about them, thus, getting back to my “alternative mom facts.” I can’t look around my house anymore with any confidence that “I have my sh*t together” unless I can make up alternative reasons for it looking like a bomb went off. I am a good mom. It may not look like it as you enter my house because it is not clean, but I am good. In fact, my messy house is a testament to my motherly excellence. I could have spent time cleaning my foyer of the bags, flip flops, hula hoops and water guns that are strewn about the floor, but instead I decided to make pizzelles with my kids the other day. They love pizzelles and I love them; thus, I am a good mom. The pizzelle grease ruined my kitchen countertops and the dishes are still piled high, but those are just side notes to me killing it as a mom. I could’ve cleaned the counters, loaded the dishes and aired out my kitchen, but instead I decided to root through our shed to find the tow hitch so I could fix my daughter’s bike and we could ride around town together. The consequence of this motherly success? Every item that was in the shed is scattered about the yard and we look homeless, but I am a good mom.
While I was working, my youngest daughter, Brooke, found an old tent in the back of the shed and attempted to assemble it on her own. Of course, when I came outside and found a half-hung tent in our front yard, I freaked out because we already looked like Sanford and Son and the tent was just adding to the chaos, but then I saw her eyes. She just wanted us to spend a night together camping as a family. I could have cleaned up the yard, tent and driveway, but instead we put the tent up together and spent the night in the yard. (It has dawned on me that this might have been her attempt to escape our dirty house, but I’m going to pretend it’s because she really wanted to camp.)
For every dirty item/room you can find in my house, I have an alternative fact that proves that I’m a good mom. That’s how I’m rolling from now on. There just aren’t enough hours in the day for me to be both a great housekeeper and a great mom. Something has to give! I don’t want to feel like I’m failing at keeping a house, I’ve just chosen to look at my dirty house as evidence of my dedication to my craft, and that craft is motherhood. (Man, I’m good.)
To all the moms out there fighting the good fight, trying to help their kids have the best summer ever: step away from the laundry; don’t worry about those dishes. Go play in the pool, sit in the yard and play cards. There are only a few weeks left before school starts and everyone probably thinks you’re a bad mom anyway, so live it up! The only people whose opinion matters is your kids, and they probably hate you, but with “alternative mom facts,” you might be able to sleep easy tonight.
On a side note, many thanks to all the lovely people who reached out to me regarding my plans to start a speaking group for teen girls this fall. I’ll be reaching out to each of you soon to set up a date to discuss this exciting new chapter. Stay tuned for details! To learn more about this project, check out my article from last month or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published (and copyrighted) in South Jersey Magazine, Volume 14, Issue 5 (August, 2017).
For more info on South Jersey Magazine, click here.
To subscribe to South Jersey Magazine, click here.
To advertise in South Jersey Magazine, click here.