Recently in one of my fibro support groups, someone was telling how their relative had been berating them for having a messy house. This person has fibromyalgia along with other chronic illnesses and four children. This person felt humiliated, hurt and alone. The critical relative has no children and no chronic anything. The rage I felt inside for this person came exploding out into the comment section. I think all parents have been victims of this shaming at one point or another, and I know all fibromyalgia and other chronic pain sufferers have been accused of laziness, disorganization, self-pity, etc. As if the guilt we already feel isn’t enough, someone has to add to it with their superior expectations. So let’s just get real here.
I am messy. I am disorganized. I guarantee that there will be a sink full of dishes any time you pop by my house. I promise there will be a load of laundry, clean or dirty, sitting in a basket at the bottom of the stairs. I depend on my trusty Roomba to handle the carpet and my husband to keep the house together. Yes, I am the messy mom.
Whenever I walk into a home with kids that is immaculate, my first thought is: “Wow. How much time and energy does this parent invest in cleaning instead of playing and engaging with their kids or practicing self-care?”
Yes, I judge, too. We all do. It’s only natural. However, I have no right to blurt these judgements out, especially since I am not that parent.
See, I have a very limited amount of energy and it takes a lot to get my pain under control enough to partake in everyday life. Between work, kids, cooking, writing, playing, binging on Netflix, etc. sometimes I have to pick and choose which actions to take and which to put aside for another time. And you know what goes to the bottom of the list? Cleaning.
Now I’m not saying I live in a sty, but when it comes down to an art project with my kids or doing the dishes (again), I’m going to put my kids first. Because when my kids are grown up, they’re not going to say; “We always had dirty dishes in the sink,” they’re going to say; “My mom always spent a lot of time with us.” And you know what? That is all the justification I need to be at peace with my messy house.
I told the friend in my support group the exact same thing. We could just give in to the pain, the fatigue, the depression and remain bedridden but we don’t. We do as much as we can, pushing through the symptoms just to have some semblance of a normal life. So if someone wants to judge me for being the messy mom, you know what? I don’t care. A messy house is a sign of life.
I no longer have the time nor the energy to worry about things like that. It’s interesting how these critics rarely have kids and/or a chronic illness and I have yet to be hear anything but compassion and understanding by another mother of two with fibromyalgia.
So, messy moms of the world, carry on!