A couple of days ago, McHubby graciously informed me that, "Aleisha, the refrigerator stinks. Bad." So, in all my "domestic goddess" glory I decided to whip out the Lysol Dual Action Scrubbing Wipes (can I just say those things are ahh-mazing) and an empty garbage sack and get to work.
Somewhere between throwing out old hot dogs (at least I think they were hot dogs) and cleaning out the crisper (which contained excellent material for a chem lab), Ms. Lilly walked in to the kitchen:
Ms. Lilly: "Eew, Mom! It stinks!"
Mama Lysol: "I know, Lil."
Ms. Lilly: "What are you doing?"
Mama Lysol: "I'm cleaning out the fridge."
Ms. Lilly: "But you never do that."
Mama Lysol: "I know, Lil."
Ms. Lilly: "Well, it smells disgusting."
I thought of something in that moment, as I tossed a bottle of poppy seed salad dressing (that had expired in 2008!!) into my garbage bag: I stink. I stink at being a housewife. I had let the refrigerator go to pot. My four-year-old had noticed. Is it possible that...gasp...I might not be a domestic goddess after all?!
As I sat on my kitchen floor--surrounded by moldy produce and FOUR different jars of old salsa--I looked up at my daughter and noticed the raspberry jam that was still on her left cheek, remnants of a breakfast eaten hours ago. I noticed the wispy strands of hair in her face and her droopy and disheveled ponytail that made her look like a child from a polygamist compound. She had circles and swirls, drawn in pen, on her hands and arms. (A princess pen given as a reward for good behavior backfired.) Ms. Lilly was in as much disarray as my refrigerator, and as I watched her pinch her nose and scowl at me, I realized I might stink at being a mom too.
I tossed barbecue chicken (funny, I don't even remember the last time we had barbecue chicken) and thought about my roles, my life, and how I seem to be clunky and clueless in all of it; bumbling around in a stay-at-home-mom state. I try to be a rock star housewife! I certainly do try to keep a clean house. Sure, the toilets need to be scrubbed and sure, my fairy godmother needs to show up and wave her magic wand and make my soap-scummy shower disappear......but I vacuum. I do laundry. So what if the Cam Man has to wear his Halloween costume during the day and Lilly's Tinkerbell pajamas at night before I'll get my act together and do the laundry I've let pile up. At least I do it, right?
I dust with Pledge. I grocery shop. Sometimes I clean out a closet or wash a window or two. But, I am a bit cluttery and I have a tendency to let the dishes pile up in the sink. I've been known to hide the stale, barfy smell of crusted-on spaghetti dishes that are two days old, by opening a window and lighting a "Kitchen Spice" candle.
I try to be a rock star mom! I put bows in Lilly's hair for church on Sunday, to make up for the days during the week she runs around looking like a "Lost Boy" from Peter Pan. I suppose Cam looks like a Lost Boy too when I take him to Target after lunch, with dried applesauce on his face and peanut butter in his ear. (Why do I always forget to clean him off beforehand?!)
I try to keep their noses wiped. I pray Lilly doesn't cuss around my mother. I hope no one notices the bruise on Cam's head that developed shortly after he hit it on the toilet seat while trying to reach down into the bowl. I try to scold less and play more. I play "Chutes and Ladders" with Lilly. I play peek-a-boo with Cam. We go to story time at the library. We make Jello jigglers. I hug and kiss them often. Every day, I tell them I love them.
(Funny how cleaning out a refrigerator can lead to meandering, existential reflection! These are the things a stinky fridge and a messy kid will make you think about.)
And hey, all I can do is try. All I can do is my best.
Later, when James got home from work, he noticed the sparkling kitchen and the sloosh and slosh of the dishwasher in action. He noticed the gleam of the sink's chrome and the clean, sweet smell of the refrigerator and said, "Thank you for cleaning the kitchen and fridge. Everything looks really great."
What? Has "domestic goddess" status been reinstated?
And even later, as I was tucking Lilly into her bed--preparatory for her trip to "Slumberland"--she looked up at me and said, "Mom, you are the best." I gave her a big, noisy SMACK of a kiss on her head. She said, "Really, Mom. It's true. You are the best mom in this whole city. You're even the best mom on this planet."
Hmm....maybe I don't stink after all.
Bet my refrigerator looks better than yours!!