(I’m sharing this part of my life for the very first time).
She looked at me across the table, her eyes moist with unshed tears and said ‘I feel like a failure…I’m not a natural homemaker…My house is rarely tidy…I try so hard but it never seems enough.’ I’m talking about a young woman I met a few days ago. She was ashamed because she felt judged (by her husband and in-laws) about how she kept her house.
Research has shown that both working women and stay-at-home mums feel judged about how tidy their homes are. It reminded me of my own journey as a homemaker.
I am naturally gifted at a few things, but keeping a ‘neat and tidy’ home is not one of them. All those years ago, I struggled as a young wife to keep things back where they belong, and today at the age of 44, I continue the same struggle. There are days when… I cannot find matching socks for the kids….when books, homework and toys are scattered all over the house and I have to step over it all in my rush to take one of the children to their hockey game….when I don’t have the time (or the inclination) to fold and put away washed clothes…when I get so carried away with writing the next chapter of my next book that I forget to unload the dishwasher.
For many many years, I felt like a failure because I truly believed that every woman ever born needs to have a natural and inborn talent for keeping her house tidy. It didn’t matter that I had won so many awards for my creative writing…it didn’t matter that as a motivational speaker, I could stand up all alone on stage in front of a packed auditorium, hold the mike and wax eloquent for hours….It all faded in importance in light of the fact that my house was often chaotic and untidy.
And then one day I asked my children ‘Do you feel sad that Mum isn’t very good at keeping a spotless home?’ And they said, ‘Mum, we didn’t notice. Why do you care when you can write such wonderful stories?’ It was the day I stopped feeling guilty about my skills at housekeeping.
Don’t get me wrong…I still try my best every single day to keep a tidy home… Just because I’m not good at it, doesn’t mean I don’t strive to keep improving. I must add here that my kids and husband do their own share of keeping the house tidy. I must also add that my husband recognised long ago that writing is my forte and he encouraged me to keep writing every step of the way. But I digress from my core point. The reason I share this story today is because I want women to stop feeling guilty about so many things all the time.
Whether you realise it or not….you are all immensely talented in one or two things (perhaps untapped potential as yet), reasonably talented in several things and possibly totally hopeless at some things in particular. Do yourself a favour and stop judging yourself constantly on what you cannot do and occasionally learn to celebrate what you can do so beautifully. I salute all you wonderful women out there…I hope you look in the mirror today, ignore the wrinkles and flaws and recognize the true heroine within 🙂