Yesterday a friend came in the afternoon with her two children, who are the same ages as AltD1 and AltD2. Call it a playdate if you like. AltD1 recounted the day’s events to her dad in the evening and explained that we had all had a friend round to play – one each!
Anyway, my friend and I (let’s call her Jean, that’s not her name, though) were talking about various stuff, and I mentioned that I had made a Christmas Cake on Monday. More about that another time, but Jean surprised me by saying
“Oh don’t, you’ll make me feel inadequate – I’ve been feeling like that a lot, lately”.
This is a lady who seems so together all the time, and so on top of everything in the midst of chaos.
Now the way I see it is like this:
(Not my diagram, I pinched it from a facebook link, and I’ve no idea where it originated)
So Jean was saying she feels like everyone else’s houses are always tidy and hers isn’t… um… that’s how I feel , too… and I’m guessing so does pretty much every other parent on the planet, right? So I took Jean and BabyJean and AltD2 while BiggerBabyJean and Alt D1 were ransacking the toybox, and I showed them the Pile of Shame.
I don’t show it to other people, and I usually keep it behind closed doors whenever visitors are in the house. It isn’t mentioned in public, and although AltFather would prefer it wasn’t there, he doesn’t put pressure on to get rid of it. Ladies and gents of the internet yes, I am a Laundry Slattern.
There, it’s out there. Now you all know.
Washing it isn’t a problem. After all, the invention of the washing machine changed our lives forever and kick started the liberation of women everywhere, right? I’ve got one of those. Even the drying isn’t too bad – we’ve got a washing line in the garden and for days like these we also have (whisper it softly) a tumble drier! No, the Pile of Shame is the current mounting mountain of clean, dry laundry on our spare bed. I think there’s still a bed under there, it’s getting hard to tell.
There just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to fold and put away 500 loads of laundry! Ok, maybe I’m exaggerating that, but it does feel like it. Sometimes I wish my family would stop wearing clothes! AltD1 is becoming an expert at diving into the Pile of Shame and emerging triumphant, clutching exactly the article of clothing she went in there for. AltFather has a bash at the Pile every so often, and so do I, but next day there it is, back again to haunt me and make me feel inadequate.
And that’s the problem really.
As human beings we are constantly comparing ourselves to others. But as soon as we become parents, the comparison game enters a whole other league. In fact it enters a whole new International League, because now not only do we compare ourselves, we have to fight to stop ourselves comparing our children.
Little Johnny is smiling, rolling, sitting, standing, walking, talking… whatever it is, maybe mine isn’t quite. But she might be doing calculus in her head, or declining Latin verbs… how do I know?! My baby is the cutest, funniest, cleverest (is that even a word?) baby I know. And that is because she is mine. And your baby is probably the cutest, funniest and most clever baby you know. Because he is yours. But oh, it is so hard not to compare them.
With AltD1, lots of my friends had babies 3 months older than she was. That’s just how things turned out, and those were the people I met at the time. That took a load off my mind – I couldn’t compare AltD1 because being so much younger, of course she wasn’t doing the same things. For AltD2, well she hasn’t got any friends (poor kid – also, NOT true!) so I can’t compare her, either!
BabyJean and AltD2 were chatting to each other yesterday, passing bricks across, and playing nearby without poking each others’ eyes out. That’s good enough for me! Their older siblings were doing crazy stuff with a tent and a boat made out of a cardboard box and half the wooden spoons from my kitchen; that’s also good enough for me. They weren’t comparing themselves, and we weren’t either.
Jean’s eyes lit up when she saw the Pile of Shame. I might have just shown her the Holy Grail or the gates to Atlantis.
“I’m so glad it’s not just me!” she grinned.
So, here is my challenge:
- To clear the Pile of Shame by the end of this weekend, and to keep it clear between now and Christmas.
- I solemnly pledge that I will empty the laundry basket every day, wash, dry, fold and put it all away. AltFather can pair his own socks though.
Wish me luck!