It’s funny how your working life merges with your home life. And for once, I mean in a good way. I’ve continued to contribute to the amazing success that is, SelfishMother.com. There I get to write about my everyday life as a mum, which let’s face it, isn’t altogether glamorous. Far from it, in fact. But in opening up about my… how do I put it?… parental inadequacies, I’ve realised I’m not alone.
I adore my girls. I just don’t hit the mark when it comes to ‘the perfect mum’ role. Anyway I wrote a piece entitled The Undomestic Goddess, detailing my flaws for Selfishmother.com. I waited for a torrent of abuse. Instead, as more people read it, I got heartfelt cries of ‘yes, me too’. So apparently we don’t all have immaculate homes, dinner on the table and snot-free children.
In my opinion, the sooner we realise we ain’t perfect the sooner we’ll enjoy running in muddy puddles with our kids – on that note, they have great wellies at the Outnet.com. See, work and home life merges again.
Read my post here: The Undomestic Goddess
When asked to write this piece I was – how shall I put it – mildly embarrassed, amused, a tad disheartened…? All of the above. I was also in complete agreement (apart from the goddess part – that was added to soften the blow). If there was a ‘domesticity’ test I would fail.
I’m not suggesting that I’m completely feral. You won’t ﬁnd rotting food hidden under mattresses or unclaimed pets scavenging. No, I just struggle to maintain uncluttered serenity. I dream of a clean, calm home; no piles of crap, unopened bills, random jigsaw pieces under sofas, plastic toys wedged in doorways. You get the picture.
I have tried, believe me. Every now and then I blitz it. The feeling is euphoric. I light an overpriced candle and pour a glass of wine. As I take the ﬁrst sip, the two year old eyeballs me and simultaneously pours her milk on the ﬂoor. I give up.
I’m not striving for perfection. I do not want to be a 1950s housewife. I’d sooner be drinking the whiskey than handing it to my weary husband returning from work. I do not iron his shirts or my own, for that matter. I rarely cook – it stresses me out – and I deﬁnitely do not bake. There was a point when most of my main meals consisted of crisps and hummus; they still would if I had the option.
I’m not making a grand feminist statement. I fully admire and even envy my friends who’ve adjusted so seamlessly to domestic bliss. I’m just not very good at it. Throw my kiddos into the mix and well, things don’t look so great for the homely version of myself.
I blame time or rather the lack of it. Life seems to push all these chores to the bottom of my to-do list. Mornings are chaotic. Each one is a varied explosion of clothes, toothpaste and cereal, so getting out the door is a genuine high-ﬁve moment.
With both my daughters in school I return to my ofﬁce… at home (never ideal). I attempt to by-pass the debris. Coffee cups and dirty washing scream at me, much like that looming deadline. All the while I’m wondering how everyone else seems to cope. How are others so good at the whole immaculate home thing?
Therein lies the biggest ﬂaw of all. The minute I start comparing myself to others is the minute I lose. Admittedly, when I ﬁnd myself in a friend’s gleaming home, I do feel overcome with the desire to never leave; to cling to their perfect pencil pleat curtains. In those homes, where they serve proper coffee and eat freshly baked cake, I feel like a grown up. I breathe in the lemony scent of polished surfaces. I sink into a cream sofa without squishing a headless Barbie doll. It’s heaven.
Well, apparently for me, heaven can wait. One day my organisational skills will kick in. One day I’ll reach the top of the washing mountain. One day my home will be minimal and shiny. One day…
Until that day, my home will have character, as someone put it, or feel lived in. My home is our home. It’s sometimes messy, it’s sometimes busy. It’s also cosy and colourful and loved. And let’s face it, if there were career prospects I might try a bit harder. If I got paid overtime I might spend longer tidying. None of that is going to happen any time soon.
So yes, I, Ashling McCloy, am an Undomestic Goddess. Acceptance is the first step, right?