Sunday, February 7, 2010

Invisible Work

I think that being a mom is a lot like being invisible. You are... in many senses THERE, but the evidence is awfully hard to come by. "What do you do with all your time?" is a frequent question, and there's the joke of a man coming home to a house in utter chaos, and after following a trail of debris, kids swinging from chandeliers half naked and a ton of junk he starts looking for his wife. He finds her relaxing on the bed reading a book. "What HAPPENED here!!??"

"Well Darling, you always wonder what I do with my day, and today I didn't do it..."

This came to mind as I surveyed the house at the end of yesterday. I worked really hard! But as I looked around at the end of the day, I knew that hardly anyone would be able to tell - they would only be able to tell if I hadn't done it. For example I:

* Changed the sheets, and washed the comforter cover on the bed. I don't know how mustard got on the comforter, I just knew it was there. At least I *hope* it was mustard...

* Cleaned all the pillowcases, and some of the pillows. I started the wash early in the day so that I could put them back exactly where they were this morning - only cleaner. I've heard so many horror stories about how many organisms live in your mattress, eating skin, as well as how much heavier your pillow is when you sweat in it day after day (even though I have TWO pillowcases on all pillows - as per being brought up correctly). So I tossed 'em in the wash too, to... well, drown 'em I guess, or at least give 'em a bath.

* Scoured the bathroom. Saturday ritual that shines up the faucets, cleans out the toilet/tub, and gets the hair off the floor. There's not a lot of dust after a week, but it rises exponentially from dust bunnies to dust rhinoceroses if you wait even one day.

* Helped clean out the garage. We've "taken out" 3 mice to date, but they have left their little party droppings all over the garage. Besides being disgusting, it is also a very emotional endeavor as you get ticked at every single thing that they pooped on. We have no less than three tall shelves packed with stuff on each shelf.

"GAH! They got into THAT! *curse curse mutter mutter* They ate the Styrofoam on Sam's old infant car seat!!! *styrofoam confetti sprinkles to the floor* EW! They pooped all over the DVD movie covers?! Now we have to clean out that whole box!!" etc. etc.

150 Lysol wipes later, the garage is clean yes, but not in such a major way that you would have noticed anything different with a casual glance before and after. The old washer/dryer got moved to storage, the bed rails are now UPRIGHT, and we still have to figure out what to do with the sleds. And the shelves are covered in plastic bins. Now, if it's in MY garage, it's in a plastic bin to keep out/starve unwanted rodents. *curse curse mutter mutter*

* All this while doing load after load of laundry and a trip or two to the grocery store.
Still tired but not finished, we got dinner on, then put away. Floor swept and mopped and it just all looked pretty much like it did when I got up. I worked like a friggin' galley slave, yet there is really no evidence of the struggle. Like... building the Taj Mahal, and then having nothing there but the dirt you started with! It seems like there should be something... THERE! But my proof of hard work is that the counter has NOTHING there!

And that's when it hit me: Mom's are invisible. Food is in the pantry, and dishes in the dishwasher (transported, as if by magic, from the counter and sink to the dishwasher!!)and it seems to all happen when nobody is looking. It's all invisible, that is,unless you stop. It is only then that the evidence starts to pile up of what you used to do, but that isn't getting done now.

But for now, at least, we can roll on. The work of the invisible is done, and the house is where it was this morning. Just with fewer dust mites and mice poop.


MMW said...

K, I totally know what you mean...piles building up of what I USED to do. I often lament my old-time fave projects sitting unattended, but also - truth be told - I never imagined the love and fulfillment I'd have being a mommy to four kids. NOTHING like it. Potty training, dust mites, runny noses, chaos and all.

Thanks for keeping it real (re: the master bathroom glam post I did...yes - toothpaste on those mirrors! Agh.)

xoxo MMW

Danika said...

Amen sister; you hit the nail on the head! I just had this same exact conversation with Kevin this week...

Danika said...

Damn it, Danika beat me again. Anyhoo, please remember you are also pregnant and be a little kinder to yourself.

Cyndie said...

Wow. Great work! There's nothing nicer than a nice, bleachy or lemony smell.

I went to 15 hours of CLE this week and was shocked to find that my invisible twin did not do the laundry, wash the floor, or vaccuum.

Erika said...

Ugh I can so relate. Well we all can. Three cheers to the invisible moms!

Loved this....that to know a lot has been done is to see nothing (out of place,etc). What a great oxymoron.