What I Don’t Do

A few months ago, I invited my cousin and her son over for dinner at our house.  I can’t remember what I made (maybe lasagna? it’s one of my go-to recipes), but I will never forget the dinner.  We were sitting around the table, and she made a comment like, “This was good; what are you making tomorrow?”  We laughed, and then I looked at her and realized she wasn’t joking.

Hold up.  Are you trying to tell me that some people make dinner every night?  Like, they actually have all of the ingredients for seven days’ worth of recipes, and they stand there at the stove seven nights in a row and make an entire meal for their family? I was dumbfounded.  And what’s more, she thought that I was one of those people!!  Hysterical.

This funny little moment around the dinner table made me really start to think about my life and the perceptions that people may have.  While I was more than flattered that she pictured me making a brand new dinner for my family every night, I also felt this nagging urge to tell the world: I don’t.  So, in the few months since that dinner, I’ve made it a point to squeeze that little tidbit into my mommy-friend conversations. 

The results have been wonderfully freeing, y’all.  Both for me, and for my mommy friends. 

As soon as I come clean about my “leftovers and breakfast-for-dinner” weekly routine, it’s as if you can hear my friends sigh from relief. “Me too!” they shout.  “I thought I was the only one!”  “That makes me feel so much better!”

And that is what it’s all about.

So today, I am telling you what I don’t do, because I am pretty sure that it will make you feel better about yourself as a mom/wife/sister/friend.  We all live behind some pretty beautiful Facebook cover photos, but we all know that real life doesn’t look like a Pinterest photo. Those “put together” moms that we find ourselves judging are really, in the end, in the same exact boat that we are in.  And this ain’t no yacht, my friends.

what i don't do

What I Don’t Do

I do NOT cook dinner every night. 

I love to cook, and I enjoy feeding my family.  But I have three kids and a fourth on the way, and I co-own two home-based businesses.  It just isn’t happening.  My kids eat a lot of eggs and pancakes.

I do not iron. Ever. 

Thank goodness my husband is a truck driver and wears wrinkled t-shirts to work.  Yes I do know how to iron, but it is not my cup of tea and I just don’t have the patience or the time in my day.  Also, thank goodness I am a mom of soon-to-be three boys and one tomboy girl, because none of them care.  In fact, the only time they see our iron come out of the closet is for craft time.  True story.

I do not wash my hair every day. 

Or every other day.  Or even every third day.  I am now on a four-to-five day schedule with my hair washing, and it is seriously the best thing ever.  No blow drying, less hassle, and my stylist thanks me every time I go to the salon (seriously, they really do want you to wash your hair less!).

I do not bathe my kids every night. 

Or every other night. You catch my drift.  Truth is, this is probably the one thing on the list that I’m still a little embarrassed to admit.  But the bigger truth is, bathtime is chaos in our house.  Everyone goes in grouchy, everyone comes out grouchy (including mommy and daddy), and then there’s a bunch of sopping wet towels to add to the piles of laundry.  Oh, and now that I have a girl?  Definitely happy to skip a night or two of brushing through the tangles.  My hair stylist also thanks me for not washing my daughter’s hair very often either; it’s so much better for the hair! (Basically my hair stylist just makes me feel better about my life in general…she works hard for her money).

I do not deep clean my house. 

My dirty little secret.  Pun intended.  Now don’t get me wrong: my kitchen is plenty clean enough to eat in, and my bathrooms are clean enough to do your business.  We aren’t animals (hmm….maybe).  But the TV and the ceiling fan have dust on them (a lot of dust) and the carpet could use a good vacuuming.  And the windows? 98% of the time they are literally covered in tiny handprints.  If you get invited to a random party at my house, I can tell you the real reason we are having you over: because we needed to clean our house, and the only way I convince myself to do it is if we are hosting people.  There you have it.

The list goes on…it really does. 

But for the sake of my tiny bit of pride, and for the fact that I’m tired and want to go to bed (because Lord knows I’m not down here cleaning while everyone else sleeps), I’ll stop myself there.

Today as you read this post, in your perfectly clean house with your perfectly clean kids eating their homemade dinner, I want to challenge you to do two things…

First, find a way to mention your “what I don’t do” list in a conversation or two this week.  Be brave, and let your dirty laundry hang out (perhaps literally).  Your friends will still love you.  And in fact, they may even show you a little piece of their true selves in return.

And second, while your list may be freeing after you share it (I know it was for me), at the same time let’s not just give up on life as a whole and run around saying, “Oh well, I don’t do that.”  Instead, take this opportunity to reflect on what you DO do in your life.  After all, what we spend our time on really does say a lot about who we are and what we value. So let’s really think about the reasons we don’t fret over nightly meals or perfectly-pressed laundry. (Unless those are things that you DO do, and in that case good for you!!) As a result, let go of the guilt that inevitably comes with admitting the things we don’t do.

What I Do

I DO, for example, sit down around the table every night with my husband and kids. 

Whether you’re eating a delicious home-cooked meal or frozen chicken nuggets, it is a proven fact that families who sit down to dinner together are happier, healthier (even despite the nuggets!), and more successful.

I do a load of laundry every day. 

This is for my own sanity.  We have five people, soon to be six, living here in this house, and the thought of a designated “laundry day” scares me to death.  Those who tackle the mounds in one giant leap, I commend you!

I do take time to message at least three friends every day.   

As busy as I claim to be every day, I always have time for my friends.  Whether it’s a quick, “Hey, how was your day at work?” or a deep discussion about motherhood and how hard it is, I try my best to encourage my friends every day with a text or Facebook message.  I know that their words always cheer me up, and I hope to do the same for them.  If you’re thinking of someone today, send them a message right now. It doesn’t have to be fancy, or well thought out, or even have a purpose.  Just say hello and let them know you care.

I do everything I can to show my husband how much I love him. 

Let me be honest with you: if I had to cook dinner from scratch every night, I can tell you exactly what I would look like (and what the state of my household would be) around the time my husband came home from work.  Those things that I don’t do every day have, in their own way, saved our marriage.  I often find myself sitting on the rocking chair on our front porch, laughing with all of my babies, watching for his car to turn the corner.  I am grateful for every minute I get with him in the day, and I want him to know it.

I do make our bed every day. 

Habit? Neurosis? I’m not sure. But if my bed isn’t made that day, I’m not made that day.

I do pick up the toys and clutter every night. 

Again, selfishly for my own sanity.  If we come downstairs to a cluttered house in the morning, I go crazy.  But the dust on the ceiling fan?  The only person who that bothers is my mom (and she cleans them when she comes over).

I make sure my kids are on time to everything (always a feat in itself!).

I do make sure they know how much we love them.  every single day. 

As the great Maya Angelou once said, “do your eyes light up when they walk in the room?”. I sure hope mine do.

I do work hard to encourage other moms and build you up on this blog, with the help of my cofounder and our AMAZING contributors.

I do try to take time every day to be grateful.

I do hug and kiss my kids.  And my husband. Lots and lots.

The list goes on…

Whatever you do or don’t do today, just remember this: you ARE enough.  You are MORE than enough.  And your children will love you no matter how dirty your hair is or how many times they’ve eaten frozen dinners this week.

**There are no pictures in this post, but it is not because I’m ashamed to post a picture of my wrinkled clothes or my dusty knick knacks.  It’s only because I procrastinated on typing this post and I’m too tired to take the extra steps.  T.G.I.F.**


 

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Sara and her husband Matt (sweethearts since they were just 16) got married in 2007, and since then have welcomed four beautiful children (Sam in 2008, Cooper in 2010, Nora in 2012, and Adam James in December 2015). A born-and-raised Iowan, Sara received both her Bachelor's and Master's Degrees (in Spanish Literature) from the University of Iowa. She's still teaching Spanish wherever and whenever she can, but her true passion is owning Iowa City Moms and building this community alongside her amazing team. Sara is also the Community Engagement Coordinator for City Mom Collective, and the owner of Cowork Collective downtown Iowa City. Common denominator in all of these jobs: community, community, community.

5 COMMENTS

  1. I claim this story to be true! Right down to the hair washing and bath time. I’ve lowered my own expectations on the presentation of our home and have increased the value of time spent together as a family.

  2. Sara! You had me at your opening scenario with the lasagna. Do I make dinner every single night? Well, given that I’m often surprised by the fact that it’s 5:00 and I have a family to feed — as in, this plays out EVERY. SINGLE. DAY — my answer would be, “No. I do NOT make dinner every single night.”

    And I love that this post gives me such grace in that.

    Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful!

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