Thursday, December 23, 2010

Letting Go

I'm sitting in my living room at 10am, still in my pyjamas, surrounded by toys and debris, there are dirty dishes in the sink and the laundry basket is overflowing. But I've decided not to care. My Christmas present to myself this year is permission to let go. Granted, it's only been a week that I've had to do all the work myself, but while my helper's away I've been killing myself trying to maintain the standards of cleanliness that we're used to, forgetting that our helper's sole purpose is to keep the place clean. I have several purposes at the moment and I've had to admit that I can't do it all. So I'm going to stop trying to. 

I have friends in places other than Hong Kong, who don't have helpers, some don't even have family close by, and yet they manage to look after their kids and keep the house running while their husbands are away, sometimes for 10 days at a time. I've marvelled at how they manage to keep it all together and maintain their sanity. Most of the mums I've spoken to about this say that the only way to cope is to give up something. One mum, a friend of a friend, always looks immaculate, but her boys are little terrors. She's decided that discipline and behaviour aren't a big deal, preferring instead to spend a little time on herself. Others aren't too fussed about the housework, putting that way down on the priority list. Socialising and quality time with your husband are also put on the shelf at times. I've realised this week, that I could do without a helper but something would definitely have to give. I worked my butt off on Tuesday to make sure the house was tidy when my husband came home that night. I know for sure that if I didn't have a helper, I would not make this effort every week. I'd probably leave the house in a state deliberately so D could see what it's like most of the time he's away. The dog would end up completely neglected, and there's no way I'd ever iron anything. I probably wouldn't be able to work either, but that would be a sacrifice I'd be willing to make. 

The best part about the last week has been the amount of time I've spent with my amazing little guy. We have had so much fun together and I've absolutely loved every minute of it. Despite being ridiculously busy, I've had more time to sit on the carpet and play. And rather than leaving J at home while I go to the shops, I've been taking him everywhere with me. He's fabulous company and I'm so grateful that we've been able to spend this time together. I've learned that, until now, I've been occupying myself with a lot of stuff that's just not important, and that's what I'm letting go of. I've been putting a lot of pressure on myself to try and keep everything running smoothly and make everyone around me happy. I want to be liked and respected and keep up with the mums around me who always look good and have beautiful homes and great hair, and still have time to go to work and look after the kids and bake cookies on the weekend. Now I know that they've probably made a lot of sacrifices to maintain that lifestyle, I don't feel so bad.

If I've learned anything this year, it's to value what's important and make the most of it, you just have to work out what that is. I can keep trying to 'do it all' but if I really think about it I think I'll find that I really don't care if the floor's clean or the washing's folded. So I'm going to spend the next couple of days tidying, baking, shopping, wrapping presents, and preparing an amazing Christmas dinner. Not because I have to, but because I want to. If I can spend the day with my gorgeous son and collapse on the sofa at the end of it with my husband, mince pies, mulled wine and tacky Christmas movies, I'll be very happy indeed. 

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