Have you ever just walked away from the mess? Like took one look at your overflowing kitchen full of greasy pots and pans or your tornado-stricken playroom, then turned off the light and simply said, “Nope, not doing it?”
Well, Janelle Hanchett of Renegade Mothering says we should do just that once in a while. And not because we have other work to do or don’t have time. Janelle says we should walk away from it just because.
In a Facebook post shared this week, the writer and mom of four shows a picture of her kitchen. And you might say, “Hmmm, that looks familiar” — because it pretty much looks like kitchens all over America on a nightly basis. It certainly looks like mine, that’s for sure. Every inch of counter is covered with something that needs to be scrubbed, soaked, or wiped clean. Pots, plates, a bottle, lunch boxes, and Tupperware are scattered about.
“I left my kitchen like this today,” her post begins. “Yep, Monday morning. Starting out the week with two days’ worth of dishes strewn across the counters. I walked away last night. I walked away from doing them myself, even from having the kids do them. My husband was doing other work. I ‘should’ have been working, too. But I walked away. Why? I have no idea why. I can’t even recall what I did instead. And still, sometimes, for whatever reason or no reason at all, you have to just walk away.”
That sounds incredibly liberating, doesn’t it? Not saying, “I don’t feel well” or “I have other things to do.” Just not doing it. For no reason at all.
But, Janelle adds, the key to feeling free is to avoid guilt.
“I don’t feel guilty about it. I don’t feel a heavy weight of defeat,” she continues in her post. “I walked away because I’m human, and I get to act like one. I get to ‘fail’ or ‘just not do’ and I get to do that for whatever reason I choose, or no reason, and it can be somebody else’s problem or nobody’s problem and everything — and everyone — is going to be fine.”
Because that really is the truth — everything and everyone will be fine if we don’t do the dishes on Sunday night. The world won’t crumble around us. Everyone will still get up tomorrow and survive the day. We’ll all come home, live our lives, and love each other.
But, she tells Babble, that lesson took her a while to learn.
“It took me quite a few years of parenting to not look around the house and feel an incredible heaviness, guilt, and exhaustion,” she says. “Now I just walk away if I have to, knowing we will get to it.”
And if you’re wondering (like I was) how on earth it is freeing to walk away because the mess will just be waiting for her the next day, here’s what Janelle told us.
“What’s liberating is letting go of expectations I had placed on myself, or society placed on me, or whatever. That was liberating. The mess comes and goes. What’s freeing is not beating myself up mentally for walking away.”
Well, that does actually sound pretty amazing.
As a writer about motherhood, Janelle shares with Babble that she values showing the “real side” of parenting, especially since there are enough pressures on us moms already.
“Society expects us to be everything and do everything,” she says. “Keep a clean house, career, kids, etc., all while smiling and working out and doing yoga and cooking organic food. It’s nonsense. Meanwhile, we celebrate a dad for like giving a kid a bath. It’s ridiculous.”
It’s important for all members of our family — spouses, kids, AND Mom — to remember that Mom doesn’t do it all and shouldn’t do it all. And that it’s okay if the house isn’t perfect. Renegade Mothering’s post is exactly reminder we all need to hear.
She ends her post by admitting that “lowered expectations have been one of the greatest things kids have forced me to face. Particularly for myself.”
Isn’t that truth? If we allow ourselves the opportunity to stop doing all the things every second of every day, without guilt, that’s probably the greatest gift we can give to ourselves.
And to top it off, she told us that her 12-year-old did the dishes the next day! Winning.