I am a member of a Facebook community dedicated to cleaning and doing laundry, and most of the other members are also moms (Which in and of itself says something about our society, but I'll stay off my feminist soapbox for right now. You're welcome.). It is cleanliness taken to the extreme: chemist-researched laundry concoctions, power washing techniques, and little-known “how to remove x stain from obscure surface y” gems. At least once a day, a post from the group pops up in my timeline that always begins the same..
I had my first/third/seventh baby two/seven/twelve days ago, and my cleaning routine has fallen by the wayside. Everything is a wreck and I’m so embarrassed! Today during Christostiltsken’s nap, I’m just going to force myself to vacuum, mop, wash and fold laundry, wash dishes, and dust. Any tips for how to maximize my time/what to tackle first/etc., etc., etc.?
Uh, what? You pushed a baby out of your damn vagina-hole, had your uterus sliced open and your internal organs shoved around, or were handed your newly fostered/adopted bundle by an agent or social worker TWELVE. DAYS. AGO. You probably aren’t sleeping. You probably haven’t even come all the way down from the crazy high yet, and if you have, the baby blues may already be creeping in. You are still bleeding, wearing a diaper, or unable to lift heavy things without ripping your abdomen open.
Whyyy is cleaning the house even a passing thought in our minds in these instances? Of course, there are a million possible reasons and realities. Maybe it’s just you and the kid(s) and there’s no one else to step in to do it. Maybe your partner is working insanely long hours to help pay your hospital bills off and doesn’t have time to help. Maybe you feel guilty that you’re on unpaid maternity leave and feel like you have to earn your keep somehow, even with a fresh, still-squishy angry walnut of a tiny human hanging off your boob more often than not.
But mama. I won’t patronize you with the trite “these moments go so fast. Cuddle the baby; the laundry will still be there tomorrow” shit, even though it’s true. Your mini spawn is cute (at least to you), but you’ll likely think that every day for the rest of your life, and by that logic, those tighty-whities will never get folded again.
But mama. This is about you. You are a goddess. No matter how it happened, you are fostering this wrinkly new life and it is hard. You’re tired and swollen and hormonal and- real talk? The cleaning can wait. Be patient with yourself. Be gentle with yourself. Ask for help. Call your mom/best friend/neighbor/partner/whoever if you have one, and tell them you could really use some help vacuuming, or ask if they could pick up a few things for you at the grocery store. If you don’t have anyone you could call? Let the damn shelves get a little dusty. Take that nap when your newborn naps (I know. I know.). Take a bath. There are things you have to do and things you should probably do. The Should Probably Do’s? Fuck ‘em for right now. Play the postpartum trump card. I give you permission. Birth is messy. Mothering is messy. Kids are messy. It’s all messy, and you’re messy, and for fuck’s sake- the house is allowed to be messy, too. Embrace it and celebrate it because really- when is the next time you’ll have such a glorious excuse not to iron as “my uterus is actively trying to fall out of my vagina, and would succeed but for seven stitches holding the damn thing closed”?
And while you’re celebrating your messy, life-giving goddess self? Yeah, okay, maybe also cuddle the baby. You earned it.