Usually, life is so busy that I can forget about it. Until I slip and let myself get overwhelmed. And feel my sanity slipping…
Then, the recriminations start.
“You’re a terrible mother.
I pity your children, who have to grow up in a house that’s so imperfect.
You’re too messy. How can you teach them to clean when you obviously can’t?
I bet they’ll be scarred for life.
What if you’ve passed on some mentally-ill gene to them?”
And so on. The problem with thoughts like those is… I entertain them. As I write this, I know they’re not true, that they’re overly pessimistic and therefore not to be taken at face value. But man, when I’m tired and already discouraged, they sure do pile up and make me feel worse.
The truth of the matter is, I’m a pretty average mother. I have my good moments, and I have my bad ones. Everybody does. It’s just that few people pin their messy houses on Pinterest; heck, most of us won’t even let our friends in the door if we haven’t tidied first. I learned years ago that if I lived like that, I’d never have people over.
But still, I wonder. I wonder what they really think of me when they see my messy house. Do they go home and shake their heads? Feel bad for my husband? Pity my children?
It’s those thoughts that drive me crazy. I start down that path, and suddenly self-doubt rears its ugly head, and the negative recording starts to play in my head again.
The longer I let it play, the louder it gets. Soon, it drowns out all reason, and I start to wonder if the kids wouldn’t be better off without me. Their grandma is so much tidier. She’s not scatterbrained and preoccupied. And on. And on. And on.
If I let my mind go down those paths, I become paralyzed, angry, frustrated. Even the tiniest mess looks huge. A pile of dirty dishes — that it would take only 15 minutes to clean — suddenly seems like a mountain. I want to hide under my covers. All the clutter conspires to choke the breath out of me, and all my confidence disappears. My husband comes home after working hard all day to find that dinner’s not started, the house is a mess, and his wife is near tears.
I don’t much like those days.
I’m replacing the recording today. I feel silly telling myself affirmations that don’t seem to be true, but the more I say them, the more true they become.
I can look after the house. (And voila! I suddenly don’t find the dishes so daunting.)
I am a good mom. (And suddenly I feel like hugging my children.)
I like my home. (And what do you know — it’s not as messy as I thought it was.)
I’m a great wife. (And I want to call my husband and tell him I love him.)
I’m a good cook. (What’s in the freezer?)
My children will be okay. (If they do get depressed, I can certainly understand and maybe even walk them through it.)
I’m not a failure. (And then I remember that no one can be perfect at everything. I decide to focus on my strengths instead of my shortcomings.)
I think I’ll also add a favourite verse to the litany: There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (from Romans 8).
God knows I am dust, and He doesn’t condemn me. If He’s okay with me being dust, I can be okay with that.