Recently, my 7-year old son discovered Toaster Strudels. You know, those freezer-to-toaster pastries that are probably chock-full of horrible preservatives, sugar, etc... Well, he loves them and since I know he's generally a very healthy eater, I've been buying them for him and making one (or sometimes two) for his breakfast every morning.
Today, as I was mentally preparing for the inevitable fight with the icing packet and feeling of frustration that was sure to result, I took a step back and made a realization: I'm putting a lot of pressure on myself every morning to get the icing just right. Not that anyone but me even notices - my son scarfs it down too fast for that - but I notice. The toaster strudels on the box and in the commercials always look so perfect, but every time I try to put the icing on it ends up being a big blobby mess.
It's become a bit like a game for me every morning - how good can I get the icing to look today?
And then, this morning I realized how ridiculous this all is.
I don't think it's that unusual though - as mothers and I feel often especially as stay at home mothers, we tend to place some unrealistic or unfair expectations on ourselves. The house should always be clean, laundry fresh-smelling and in its rightful place, a hot meal on the table and kids with flushed faces happy from all the well, happiness around them.
Lately, my home has been falling WAY short of this utopia. There is clean laundry in my room that has been crumpled in baskets for so long I'm probably better off just washing it again and trying to start over. I finally unloaded/reloaded the dishwasher last night, with dishes that dated back to last Thursday. That wasn't as bad as it sounds though, considering we've eaten out almost every meal since then (the meals that didn't include toaster strudels, that is) so while they'd been there for a while, the actual quantity of dirty dishes was still low.
I'm not sure what to attribute this recent funk too. Burn-out, I think - I'm ready for a break in our routine and anxious for summer. I can't wait for my kids to be home all the time and to stop the endless merry-go-round of schools, lessons, classes, etc...
The pool opens in FOUR days, and the coundown is ON at this house...
But I think I've also lowered my expectations of myself a bit in the last few weeks. I feel like I've done a better job of focusing on the things that really do matter. I didn't get laundry put away last night, but I did spend an hour in the pool teaching my son to swim and cheering him on as he completed an entire length of the pool. I'm about to go cuddle with my 3-year old on the couch. Dishes didn't get done over the weekend, but I spent lots of time helping my daughter get ready for her dance recital.
I know I'm not alone in this - every mother I know struggles with this balance every day, trying to maintain the symbiotic relationship between happy children, happy parents, and efficient household.
It does help every now and then to remind myself I'm not alone. When I was searching for an image for this post, I found more things about toaster strudel on the Internet than I ever could have imagined - including a letter posted on Planet Feedback asking the company to please do something about the messy, horribly-designed icing packets. The letter writer complained that they don't work as intended and usually rip open in places other than the intended opening, making it hard to use.
Oh, I can relate.