I am excited to feature my first guest post on The RippleEffect2009. My lifelong friend Laura has graciously consented to find time in her busy schedule of being a mom of 3 and volunteering to write a post to help me out while I host my family for a long awaited visit. While Laura does not currently have a blog of her own, I have long laughed with, empathized with, and enjoyed her Facebook posts and she is one of the best moms and most positive people I know. I am thrilled to share her post today. I hope to feature more MOMS & DADS WITHOUT BLOGS in the future at TheRippleEffect2009 because I know many wonderful parents who have fabulous things to share who are currently blog-less. Please share your support for Laura in the comment section!
ADOPTING A LOVING & ACCEPTING ATTITUDE THAT REPLACED MY LOVE/HATE RELATIONSHIP WITH THE KITCHEN FLOOR.
We moved into our home when my oldest daughter Glory was 4 months old. We saw so much potential here and imagined never running out of space. One of the main selling points of this house was the kitchen, recently updated, with the most beautiful light oak wood floors. Each person that entered the house for the first time would comment on what fine quality and gorgeous wood floors we were going to have, and I had instantly fallen in love. 8+ years later, our four bedrooms are filled, the house fits like a glove, and the kitchen floors? They have certainly sustained the most use of all, and this piece is for them.
The kitchen floors, the early years:1 kid, 1 cat. As a SAHM of a baby, my days consisted of playing with, caring for, and exploring and learning with my daughter Glory. During her naps, I used my time wisely to clean around the house, paying particular attention to my newly-inherited pristine kitchen floors. I scrubbed them on my hands and knees daily and enjoyed hearing friends and family comment on our lovely floors and how nice they made the kitchen look. I felt pride in my housekeeping abilities, on top of my “mom business.” Life was good. Life was easy… The kitchen floors were clean and pretty.
The kitchen floors, the growing years: 2 kids, 2 cats. When Glory was 4, we adopted my son Carlos from Guatemala. It took over a year for our adoption to complete, and during that time, many days became booked solid. In addition to my regular routine with Glory, I had research, reading, and paperwork to do. I felt stressed if I missed a day of cleaning the kitchen floors, and I would convince myself I was doing “good enough” by merely sweeping them while multi-tasking a phone-call with our adoption agency. When sweeping began falling behind, I continued the interior dialogue pep-talks saying it was acceptable to slide crumbs across the floor with my foot into the family room where it would be vacuumed later. Excuses, excuses.
By the time we brought my son home, I was beyond happy and feeling on top of the world, but Carlos was an 18 month old toddler from another country who had a long road of adjusting to do. So did our family. Bonding was priority one, Glory and Carlos were the focus, and there were plenty of doctor appointments, new experiences, and countless milestones taking place daily that filled every moment. The kitchen floors took a necessary backseat, and my guilt over them escalated. During my more dramatic moments, I would question my skills as a SAHM. My housekeeping skills were flawed, I felt lazy for not completing the same workload I had once accomplished, and I no longer saw spotless kitchen floors that shined. When I spent time in the kitchen, instead of feeling good, I would sometimes get consumed with seeing only crumbs and dirt created by our shoes hurrying off to one place or another, or the new additions of scratch marks from frisky cats chasing each other. I started to dislike the floors and found myself fantasizing that they were the color of dirt – how much easier that would make my life!
The blasted kitchen floors & reaching my limit: 3 kids, and yep, 3 cats. A year and a half after Carlos joined our family, I gave birth to our youngest daughter Ellie Joy. If it wasn’t a kid or a cat, it wasn’t a priority (my own morning showers had become a luxury.) Making it through the day and having three kids smiling at the end of it (and three cats resting contentedly somewhere) was considered a success in my book. Kitchen floors? What kitchen floors? …Oh right, THOSE kitchen floors. Argh! My attitude just continued to decline when I thought about them.
While I was truly enjoying my life as a mom, wife, and pet-owner, my anxieties about caring for the household had reached an all time high. I still remember my first anxiety attack and how part of the reason it all began was the mental abuse I was giving myself about keeping the house clean, the kitchen floors in particular. My little anxiety attack, while scary at the time, became a wonderful blessing and wake-up call in my life. How had I let something as silly as cleaning floors dictate this much stress in my life? It was absurd, and I needed a change.
It happened one evening after the kids were in bed, and I was kneeling on the kitchen floors, rags in hand, digging deep for a last burst of energy. I noticed I was scrubbing around a Dora the Explorer sticker Glory had strategically placed by our craft drawer, a cupboard in the kitchen where Glory keeps a mere fraction of her mountainous art supplies. I stopped what I was doing and reflected back to how long that sticker had been there, right in the center of the floor by her art drawer. I always chose to clean around it because I knew she liked to look at it during the day, and when I saw it, it made me think of her and the fun she has when she creates and does projects. Huh… and then, just like that, my melancholy attitude, which I must have adopted somewhere between adopting my son and a few cats, was scrubbed away and replaced by a new sense of pride and appreciation for my kitchen floors. I never would have thought an epiphany would come from a Dora the Explorer sticker, but as I have learned over the years, I am wrong more than I think (please don’t tell my husband.) My kitchen floors weren’t something to hate or stress over, they were simply floors that housed our precious family memories and milestones. How could I have missed this before?
On the rare occasion I scrub them now, I scrub with a smile. I think of the exact spot that my grandma knelt down and rubbed the floor upon seeing it for the first time, a fellow floor scrubber showing deep appreciation for her granddaughter’s shiny new floors. I know that the reason why the spot by our craft drawer doesn’t feel as smooth as it used to is because Carlos is a lefty… and a vigorous pancake stirrer. The place in front of our stove is Glory’s old squatting spot where she would watch our baking creations take form, and all the crayon marks found on the ground are there because it’s where she held her notebook for documenting in crayon drawings what it was we were making that particular day. I know there’s no use scrubbing too hard by the kitchen sink, because those water spots are permanent now, and courtesy of all the times I was washing dishes and the kids would giggle and hide below me waiting for it to rain on them. I know not to stand by the dishwasher when preparing dinner, because it is a space command center. I look at the path in front of our fridge and am reminded of cooking dinner and how the kids like to pass through as a new animal I call out, something to keep them distracted until the meal is ready. I also think of how our skittish and shy cat Boo grew into accepting this as her new home while we let ice cubes fall from the ice maker and she batted them around until they melted. This flawed and scratched up kitchen floor can transform from a stage, where Glory learned to tap dance, to a raceway, where Carlos learned to ride his tricycle, to a runway, where Ellie Joy parades in my high heels, to a workspace for projects like homemade cement stepping stones for grandparents. When I wipe under the table, the dirtiest place of the whole floor, I see remains of blueberry applesauce, macaroni and cheese, spaghetti sauce, and milk in the crevices, and they bring back visions of hard fought battles teaching the kids good table manners and eating habits during the toddler stand-off years.
I know without a doubt that my kitchen floors are my favorite part of our home. Each knick, each gouge, each water spot, the spills, even the crumbs in the crevices – they all have a story and a memory created by our family, and while the outward appearance may seem worn, messy, or less beautiful than the day we moved in and were wowed by them, the joy-filled memories are what wows me now. If we ever move, I know potential buyers won’t see the same beautiful kitchen floors I once saw, but that’s not much of a concern since I don’t know if we could leave. While packing up a kitchen table and chairs can be done, I haven’t thought of a reasonable way to transport a whole kitchen floor. I am thankful for what I have. As much as I thought I had fallen in love with the pristine kitchen floors of our home the day we made the offer to buy it, I know now that if given the choice, I would pick our current floor, in all its messy glory. Thank you Dora the Explorer sticker for showing me the light!