In Which I Attempt to Sweep

There's this advice column/article circulating around Facebook in which a woman without children gripes about how "busy her stay at home mom friend seems to be and how she never has time for her and what could she possibly do all day?" She said something along the lines of, "I work all day and still manage to clean up my house and take care of things." The columnist responds with a vigorous defense of the SAHM and naturally all the mothers who are reading and circulating this on FB do so with cheering and "hear-hears".

It is hard to explain what we do all day and why we are so tired that a nap is often so necessary. Frankly, there are up days and down days and up hours and down hours. There are times when I can get so much done in an hour that I wonder what I do with my time. Then there are mornings like this.

Today actually started well. The baby woke up and ate a little before seven, I had my quiet time and crashed back in the bed with him beside me so as to not disturb J. When J did wake up at 8:15, we got up, dressed, cleaned his room up, woke up A, cleaned her room, learned about stacking books so you could see the spine, then the baby woke up and I made my bed and we all headed downstairs with a load of laundry. Good start, yes? We ate breakfast, got the living room picked up and vacuumed--by 9:30. At nine thirty, I decided to give the house a good sweeping--this is the kind of sweeping that involves moving chairs around--so I turned on a thirty-minute TV show for the kids, settled O on his playmat and began to sweep--

1. Realized the playmat needed batteries and I had some! Changed batteries.
2. Began stacking chairs to sweep.
3. Started picking up doo-dads in dining room and putting them away.
4. Baby starts crying--time to eat!
5. Stop the show, and hustle kids onto porch so I can feed the baby and keep the kids from using up the TV time.
6. Feed baby, who soon loses interest.
7. Make J clean up his toys he brought outside, bring kids back in, restart movie
8. Spray off table with my helper, A
9. Sweep dining room floor.
10. Baby crying-ready to eat now!
11. Feed baby
12. Change diaper, put him down.
13. Help A use potty, throw away diaper and toss her dirty shorts in laundry.
14. Empty dryer, start a load of wash, realize that I really need to unload/load dishwasher and wipe the counters before I sweep the kitchen
15. J starts crying--he got hurt and needs some cuddling.
16. We cuddle for about five minutes, then realize I need to start another show if I'm ever going to get the floor swept.
17. Realize I'm hungry and eat a piece of brisket.
18. Empty bathroom garbage
19. Load/unload dishwasher
20. Send now stir-crazy kids outside to play
21. Wipe counters
22. Put away junk
23. Sweep the kitchen floors!

One hour and fifteen minutes later, I finished sweeping the floors. I had this great expectation of knocking it all out and we'd go do something fun like pick blueberries this morning. Not so, Joe! Maybe this afternoon, since we all went down for rest/naps an hour and a half earlier than normal!

One last thing. I've been so convicted about balancing the need for housework with taking care of my children and spending time with them. This poem keeps popping up in places and I cry every time I read it! First, because it makes me think of Granny and secondly, because it reminds me how swift these days are flying!

Song for a Fifth Child

By Ruth Hulburt Hamilton

Mother, O Mother, come shake out your cloth,
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
Hang out the washing, make up the bed,
Sew on a button and butter the bread.

Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She's up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.

Oh, I've grown as shiftless as Little Boy Blue,
Lullabye, rockabye, lullabye loo.
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due,
Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo.

The shopping's not done and there's nothing for stew
And out in the yard there's a hullabaloo
But I'm playing Kanga and this is my Roo
Look! Aren't his eyes the most wonderful hue?
Lullabye, rockabye, lullabye loo.

The cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow
But children grow up as I've learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs; Dust go to sleep!
I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep.

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