I know I’m not the only one. Descending into mom martyrdom is inevitable. What am I talking about? Those moments when I take out the trash, because no one else has or will. Of course, then it breaks open all over the floor that I just mopped, spilling litter box contents and all manner of disgusting filth. Then, the baby walks over and tries to eat said cat litter. Suddenly, everything goes into slow motion as I visualize the child being admitted to the hospital for some rare form of sepsis caused by cat feces. In the span of only seconds, I am irate at all of the people in my little “kingdom”.
Suddenly, every moment in which I have been patient, held space for small people’s emotions and cooked meals when it was the last thing I wanted to do…they are unappreciated, desecrated and wasted. I recall every complaint from the small people about chores, the menace building internally. How many hours a day – no, minutes actually – have they spent cleaning? Three? Five? Ten?Compared to the hours I spend?
Yes, I am a full martyr now, dying for this little “kingdom” called family daily.
When it comes to cleaning and upkeep, I like to think of it that way – as a kingdom. When things are going well, the kingdom is Arthurian and epic. There are knights in shining armor washing dishes and princes and princesses not afraid to get dirty in the knitty gritty. Sifting a litter box, taking out trash, scrubbing a toilet? They become paramount tasks on par with dragon slaying.
On the bad days, the kingdom has descended into chaos. Every member of the court is riding off into a delusional sunset, thinking the dragon is slain. Meanwhile, I am actually fighting the dragon on spindly fumes of energy, giving my life for the great chivalrous art of domesticity. The worst part? Domesticity is the last art I would waste my life on – given the choice.
I mean, what would happen if I dropped the sword and followed the court into the delusional sunset that is domestic bliss without effort? When will it be my turn to complain and throw a fit about scrubbing the dried cereal off the bowl?
Thus, the martyrdom begins. Perhaps a temporary boycott is in order, a silent manifestation of my angst, a cleaning hunger strike of massive proportions. I refuse to pursue the art of domesticity and abdicate my throne to the princes and princesses. Let them partner with the king and see how well things go!
Of course, then they return home from school. One of them actually hugs me and says something about love. Another hands me a picture from art, in which I am stick figure (hallelujah!) with a giant glowing heart encircling me. Suddenly, I’m so glad this is my kingdom.
Instead of the rant, I simply remind them of their teeny-tiny chores. When the complaining starts, I offer to hold their little crowns while they scrub the toilet, wash the dishes and slay the dragons. After all, they’ll be kings and queens someday too.
Perhaps chivalry and domesticity are not dying arts after all – even if they will always be second rate to jousting, bard singing and dragon slaying. Before I set my heart on martyrdom again, I’ll try to remember this.
Provided no one is admitted to the hospital for a cat feces infection…