An entire world opened up for me when I admitted I couldn’t and didn’t need to do it all. When I had the courage to come off my pride and ask for help, I found space and margin for not only other things, but a wellspring of patience and desire for creative activities. Today, that looks like a husband who cooks most of our dinners and cleaners who tidy our home every two weeks. As someone who feels like homemaking is my highest and most important calling it has been a struggle to relinquish these two tasks to others.
I want to like cooking. I come from a heritage of wonderful cooks. At times in my life it has been relaxing and fun, as a young mother, right now, it is not. It feels like a million interruptions, stress when I can’t be next to the stove constantly stirring lest I ruin a roux, and looking longingly to easier meals like pizza night, take out, or charcuterie. My husband and I have struck a better balance, I plan and shop for our meals, usually do some of the prep work, but he always cooks whatever protein we’re having. Sometimes while I put our kids to bed, he sets a table for two, pours glasses of wine, and puts on a playlist. It is one of the greatest gifts, and I could have missed it. These dinners are opportunities for us to have adult conversations.
Cleaning used to be my unwind time. I’d put on a podcast or call a friend while I decluttered, scrubbed, and shined my (always clean) one-bedroom apartment. I had no children to muss the space, no pets, and hours of my own time. When I looked to the future, I imagined cleaning would always be a source of joy. When I got pregnant with my first baby, I was so shocked by sickness and exhaustion I didn’t know who I was anymore. So much of my identity was wrapped up in productivity and achievement, and if I’m honest, remnants of that still remain. In the first months of my pregnancy, Seth took care of me, allowing me to rest. A year later, when we moved to our house in Stillwater, we were both new to the responsibilities of a single-family home. I had always lived in apartments, Seth in a condo. I had never lived in a home this large, and with the dog and toddler the mess piled up. We went from one floor to three, two bedrooms to four.
One spring morning after an argument where Seth felt upset because the house wasn’t clean, and I just didn’t want to keep it up anymore, we made the choice to hire cleaners. While I was relieved, this was the biggest stab wound into my pride as a homemaker. Girlfriends and I used to snicker and roll our eyes at stay-at-home-moms who also had cleaning ladies. I still like to think that if our home was smaller or if we didn’t have a dog that sheds so much that I’d be able to keep it up. Honestly, though, we’re just grateful.
For many years I’ve clung to a statement: you can have it all, just not at once. I believe I can have a mostly clean house that only I clean, and maybe love cooking again, just not right now. Because these tasks are freed up I have found newfound joy in painting with my toddler, quiet moments with my baby, and those at-home date nights. I love being home with my children, it is my greatest joy, and having space for myself makes me a better wife and mother. I have nothing to prove, but the margin and breathing room that outsourcing deep cleaning and dinner yields allows me to breath.