When my mother visits she likes to come unannounced. In my mother’s mind, if she comes over unexpectedly, she will see how you “really” live. Because I was a stay-at-home mom, this meant from the moment I woke up, until I went to bed, I was cleaning. When I say cleaning, I don’t mean picking up here and there, I mean I would clean as if I were going to be white glove tested! I was exhausted and stressed out all the time, which didn’t make me much fun to live with. But it never failed, no matter how much cleaning I did, when my mother showed up something would not be done to her expectations. I don’t mean big things, I mean things like the clean clothes were still in the basket versus being hung up, or the ceiling fans or baseboards weren’t dusted. Because of this, instead of sitting down and visiting with me and her grandchildren, she would lecture me on how it was important to set examples for my kids, which would then lead to other areas in my life I could improve upon.
One evening my mother called and uncharacteristically let me know she needed to drop by in the morning. When I got off the phone I thought this was going to be my chance to have everything perfect for her. Although I stayed up and had everything done, down to organizing dresser drawers, my mother decided my trashcan could have been emptied. In her eyes you should empty it at 75% full versus 100%. This was a changing moment in my life! It was at this moment that I realized I would never get an approval from my mother, and that constantly seeking it was making me miserable. I asked my mother to leave and told her when she was able to come over, enjoy my family, our company, without judging me or my house, then she could come back.
A huge weight was lifted off of me that day. My mother and I were able to transition from a mother/daughter role, over to a friendship role, where we are able to enjoy our time together. I no longer live in fear of someone knocking at the door, or if I have a few dishes in the sink. Since that day eight years ago, I have been able to enjoy my time with my kids playing, instead of spending all of my time cleaning. I know that when I die I am not going to be judged by the cleanliness of my house, when I empty my trashcans, or for a little dust on my ceiling fans. Life is too short to worry about the little things, our time with our families goes by so quickly and we need to take the time to stop and smell the roses, and figure out who we really need approval from.