There's a game I used to play. When my daughter was in preschool and my son an infant and when getting out the door on time was an almost overwhelming task, I added a little extra challenge for myself. Just for fun, you know. Maybe you've have played this game, too. Maybe moms all over Fredericksburg have been secretly playing this game. I call it: "What if Someone Stopped Over by Surprise?"
Yes, my little game was all in my head because most days no one stopped by. There was, of course, the possibility of an impromptu post-preschool play date, but I didn't partake in many of those until my son was in his final year of preschool and no one (aside from me, and did I really get a vote?) needed an afternoon nap anymore.
So as I coaxed my 3-year-old into putting on her dress-over-leggings, her fashion statement that year, nursed my baby boy (yet again!) and handled another blow-out diaper (too often to count!), I would also grab a sponge and frantically wipe down the countertops because..."What if someone stopped over by surprise?!" After getting them strapped into their car seat, I would dash back into the house to grab my dry breakfast bagel and -- in a move worthy of the Olympics -- grab a few toys, a book and a random pair of underpants off the floor returning them to where they belonged as I sprinted through the kitchen, the laundry room and back to the garage.
As I drove the short distance from our house to Katherine's preschool, I would do a mental inventory. Should this imaginary white-gloved guest arrive what might they find? No underwear on the floor, thank God, and the dirty diaper was buried in the garage trashcan, but...there were still dishes in the sink, a teething ring behind the couch and a few stray Polly Pockets lurking under the kitchen table.
My self-imposed grade most days: C+, if I were lucky. I don't think I ever gave myself an A. The little tubs filled with stained onesies and rompers; the never-ending procession of Little People, Polly Pockets, blocks, Matchbox cars, and dress-up clothes convinced me that this was a game I would never, ever, ever win. Yet I kept at it, motivating myself (I claimed) to try and at least stay ahead of the chaos.
In hindsight, I now know (heck, I knew it even then) that I was falling victim to the perfection trap that our own Elaine Stone wrote of last month in her insightful piece, "A+ Perfection...is it Worth it?"
No, I can answer with assurance, it's not. But old habits die hard and before I leave for the gym this morning I do need to run the dishwasher and wipe down the counters. Just in case, you know, just in case...