It happened innocently enough. I was crouched down on my laundry room floor sorting whites from darks, tossing delicates in a pile, and isolating jeans from towels. It’s become routine. Yank the clothes out of the dryer, pull the wet clothes out of the washing machine, and snake them around to the dryer. Stuff dirties into the wash. Add detergent, push start, and repeat.
[Enter that fateful day.]
I was hustling about trying to get my boys’ baseball uniforms cleaned and ready for another busy weekend of games. Three sets of uniforms including three sets of “cunders” (cup + underwear = cunders). As a family we own multiple sets of cunders which often stack up in the pile of whites ready to be bleached and washed on the sanitize setting. For some reason, on this particular day, my laundry system crumbled beneath me, and I was left unsure as to whether the cunders were clean or dirty.
Now some of you may think, Why wouldn’t she simply re-wash them to avoid any guessing games? A good point, assuming I had the time to re-wash them. I was out of time but unwilling to let them wear stinky cunders to practice. Every mother knows her child must be in clean underwear at all times. What happens if they have to go to the hospital?! Heaven forbid they have dirty underwear at the hospital!! Clean underwear = good mom. Period.
So, I timidly brought them towards my nose, avoiding the crotch area, and took a deep whiff…. Dirty! WHAT?!? How did this happen? Over the years, I’ve developed a pretty sweet laundry “system” that is supposed to prevent incidents like this. How did I fall victim to dirty cunders on game day?
[Welcome to a free viewing of the voices in my head….]
“You are a failure.”
“If you were a good mom, you’d have had these washed DAYS ago, AND you’d have had them laid out on their beds the night before the game.”
“Mom ABC from church would NEVER have this problem.”
“If you were more on top of things, this wouldn’t happen.”
“You’re too selfish. Less time reading your book = better care of your family.”
“Your family deserves better than you.”
“If you would have trained your kids to take care of this for themselves….”
I tell myself to breathe deeply (sans cunders), laugh, and pray my kids don’t walk in to witness my nose stuffed into the stinky crevices of their underwear.
Now, let’s talk for a minute about reality.
First and foremost, systems, however wonderful and helpful they may be, will at some point fall apart. As in crumble into ashes, akin to the fall of Rome. Systems are meant to make things easier and more simple. They aren’t perfect. A broken system does not equal a broken woman.
Have you ever looked around your house and thought, How did this happen? My home was virtually spotless yesterday and today it looks as though we live in a barn! I have, and unfortunately, the temptation to self loathe quickly follows. However, after running a home for the past 14 years, I’ve started to separate how I feel about myself from the circumstances in front of me.
Let’s face it – a good percentage of the time, we’re fighting an uphill battle. A few kids, pets, messy weather, schedules, crazy weekends, an unexpected illness, and our systems go out the window. Poof! The critical point becomes when we start to form our self image based on how well our systems, or lack thereof, are working.
Momma, it’s time to start looking at these instances through a lens of reality. Even when we hit rock bottom, perhaps sniffing our kids’ underwear to determine cleanliness, we are still good mamas. When our kitchens pile up with dishes despite the fact that we most certainly implemented the latest Pinterest cleaning schedule, we are still worthy of our calling.
I offer a challenge. The next time you face a seemingly glaring failure in your “mommy-ing,” call a friend. Tell her how you absolutely, positively, and entirely failed, and ask her to share her most recent failure with you. Laugh, chuckle, and potentially gag (if cunders are involved), and talk about your plans to resurrect your system. Ask her to share some tips she’s figured out along the road. In other words, reboot. Love yourself enough to offer yourself the same grace you’d extend to your bestie.
Let’s support one another in our successes and our failures. Let’s stop pretending we’re failure-proof. Let’s spur one another on to better days but be quick to lend an ear when someone needs to share her dirty laundry… pun intended.