You know the 5-second rule? The one about how food is still okay if you retrieve it from the floor if 5-seconds hasn’t elapsed?
I have a different kind of 5-second rule. I better catch whatever I’ve dropped 5 seconds before it reaches the floor. Or at least it seems that way sometimes. But not today. My kitchen floor is so clean you could eat off of it, although the table is much more comfortable — with plates and utensils, of course.
As I was scrubbing the floor today, fighting the temptation to stop halfway because it was hot and tiring work, I smiled thinking how some might think my current life out of the corporate workplace is a bit like a page out of The Stepford Wives. Let me assure you that I have no super cool sexy 60′s pantsuits, nor am I obsessive about all things homemaker.
Yet, keeping a really clean house was something that I was never able to do when I was working full-time and raising my child. I often worked from the time I woke up until the time I went to bed with the ever-present blackberry on the night stand. Homework and after school activities and sports and cooking dinner and all sorts of other things fit in between when the alarm sounded and lights out. I was lucky if I found time to use a damp mop on the floor before the tile’s light beige color developed a brown-shoe patina.
I don’t expend much energy thinking about the “culture wars” between career women and stay-at-home moms. I’ve been both. Working, for many years, was not a choice for me. What was a choice was my decision not to complain about options that I didn’t have. I worked with some women who complained that they “had” to work, but would have rather been home. Yet, had they made different choices, they likely could have lived on one salary as I did at that time. But, it would have come at a cost, a different style of living. Who am I to make that choice for anybody else? Had they decided to stay home, I would have respected that choice as much as I did their choice to work.
I overheard someone say to a new mom recently: I don’t know how you’re going to do it when you go back to work. It will be so hard.
I seethed inwardly but kept my opinion to myself. The woman probably had the best intentions, but the tone of the conversation implied that it was unfortunate that the new mom had to work. What I should have said was It is hard to stay home too.
Raising kids is difficult. Entrusting them to a caregiver for a large portion of the day is difficult as well. Staying home knowing that you’ll enter the workforce in the future is hard. Entering the workforce after not working is hard. It’s all hard.
My advice to that new mom? Be kind to yourself. Do what’s best for your family. Be comfortable with your decision. And hire a housekeeper. A clean house is nice, but you won’t have much time to do it and it isn’t why you’re staying at home. Use all those 5-seconds catching your children’s smiles.
This post is my contribution to today’s WordPress Weekly Writing Challenge: From Mundane to Meaningful. Find links to what others have written in the comments here.