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Inadequate Mom (Or, How Grace Was at the Olive Garden with No Underwear)

“Oh no!” Grace yelped as she jumped out of her car seat.

“What?!” I responded.

“I'm not wearing any underwear!” she said, and she giggled.

I stopped and looked at her. “You're right. You sure aren't.” I remembered then that she'd asked me to help her find a pair of underwear before we left home, and I forgot.

I grabbed her hand and we walked through the parking lot together anyway. I was thankful she was wearing a maxi dress.

Sadly, this was not the first time she's gotten out of the house without underwear – this week. Sometimes, I say to myself, “Who is her mother? Why hasn't she got herself together?!”

It's then that I feel most delinquent.

Let's take a moment to consider how many parenting failures must happen in succession to produce an underwear-less 5-year-old in the parking lot of the Olive Garden.

I work way too much. Add 20-25 hours a week for AboutOne to writing this blog and working with private coaching and SEO clients, and I very easily spend 45 hours a week behind my computer.

I don't take care of my family and especially our home. We're behind on all of the housework, but especially the laundry and the general mess. I used to do a load or two of laundry every day of the week, but now, I'm lucky if I do a load or two once a week.

Instead of washing clothes and immediately putting them away, I have started piling clean clothes on the couch. But then, when someone wants to sit down, the clothes get moved.

I don't know where the clothes end up. At least one entire load of laundry (containing all of my summer shorts and some of the children's) has vanished into thin air. I've looked for them everywhere I can think to look, and they are simply missing.

Grace has plenty of underwear, but she changes it every single time she uses the bathroom. It's like she can't put them on after they've come off. As a result, all of her underwear is dirty or in laundry limbo, lost someplace in our messy home. Her underwear drawer is completely empty save a couple of pairs of thick winter tights and a few pairs of socks.

She asked me this day at least once (but maybe two or three times) to get her a pair of underwear, and I really did intend to find her a pair, but we were in a hurry and I couldn't find anything to wear myself because half of my clothes are missing I don't know where.

So combining my working too much with dismal housekeeping abilities, a complete failure to follow through a task begun, and haphazard organizing efforts, and my kid has been in public twice this week with no underwear.

It is at these times that I feel least like Super Mom. I don't even feel like Good Enough Mom. I feel like Inadequate Mom, the one whose house is so messy that her kid can't find a pair of clean underwear.

I know that beating myself up won't fix anything, but trying to devise a plan is hard. I sit on the chair in the living room, looking past my laptop at toys and clothes and papers and books and dvds and towels and a pillow, and I defeat myself before I even begin.

The stuff is overwhelming. We have too much, and despite two years' worth of sorting and purging, it feels like there's as much stuff here as ever.

I can't really cut back on my work hours because I have made certain commitments, and we need my income.

Maybe I can find a way to work laundry back into my routine so that washing and folding and putting away is just another thing the girls and I do each day, like brushing our teeth and eating our lunch and having school time.

Routines make the work easier, right?

(I wanted to end this post on a positive note, with a plan to clean up this awful mess and get my house together, but I don't have a plan.)

© 2012 – 2018, Tara Ziegmont. All rights reserved.

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23 thoughts on “Inadequate Mom (Or, How Grace Was at the Olive Garden with No Underwear)”

  1. Your laundry situation sounds a lot like mine. I just recently became self employed by starting my own blog design business and doing some consulting as well. I am sure you know, that starting a business is a lot of work. Just getting your name out there. I have left a lot of the housekeeping to my husband. I can not tell you how many days I have picked up the kids from daycare to see that my kids are wearing clothes that are two sizes too small!

  2. First, my dear sweet friend who loves her family like crazy and works hard for her family, you are an absolutely great mom. Even if your laundry isn’t done and it’s everywhere. You will get it done. I remember once getting to the store and my four year old had no shoes. I got him in the car, prepped everything, but forgot shoes. It’s all parenting – it’s the ebb and flow.
    My words to you? Because I care about you and value you and am grateful that you’re my friend? Do one thing. Only one. Today’s goal? Reclaim your couch. That is it. Reclaim it. Check it off your list. Get a treat to celebrate. Instagram a pic of you sitting on it and I will heart it.
    You can do it. I know you. You’re determined, focused, and fabulous.

    • You always bring tears to my eyes, Rachel. I actually wrote this last weekend, and I reclaimed the couch on Wednesday of this week. I will Instagram a picture this afternoon, just because you asked. 🙂 Love you!

  3. Oh, friend. I hear you!! I was adding up my work hours earlier this week – a part-time outside the house job, plus blogging and writing and freelancing – and I realized, Oh, yes, this is why I feel like a mad woman. (Mad crazy, not mad angry.) I don’t have one bit of laundry advice. But I have loads and loads of empathy.

    You are not delinquent, inadequate or anything short of awesome. The end.

  4. That’s hilarious! But – one solution might be to keep a few pair of underwear in a bag in the car along with a change of clothes – just in case. And – a basket of panties in the bathroom might save you a few steps a couple of times a day. You might also hire a local teenager to come once a week and do your laundry, and put much of it away.
    When my kids were little I often did the laundry at night. I started a load before bed and when I got up to use the bathroom or tend a baby I’d move it to the dryer and start a new load. When I got up again I’d fold the first load and move what was in the washer to the dryer and start more if needed. By morning most of the laundry was done – folded or hung and I just had to put it away. And I pretty much slept right through it. I don’t FULLY waken when I get up at night so this works for me….. if I’m awake enough to remember. *lol* Now, the kids are grown and laundry is much, much easier. Unless there has been a lot of pool use and then I have towels to wash – but towels are EASY!

    • Those are GREAT ideas, Patty. Thank you.

      Normally, I do have a change of clothes in the care for each kid, but I used them and forgot to put them back. I need to do that today. I have a teen who comes two mornings a week so that I can work, but I hadn’t thought of putting a load of laundry in during that time. Our laundry room is reasonably close to the living room, and I can put the stuff into the washer and dryer while the kids are playing, but folding is where I get tripped up. Every time I try to fold, the girls grab things and scatter them all over (even though one of them is CLEARLY too old for that kind of nonsense). For a little while, I had Joe folding laundry while he watched tv at night, but that hasn’t been working lately either.

  5. Yes! Routines do make things easier. Unfortunately, they do very little to ensure that the girl has panties on. My 3 year old seems to have the same problem, and I put away 2 loads of laundry a day. 😉

  6. My children are grown now but I used to threaten to join a nudist colony so I could throw the clothes away. Mostly you have to remember that this too shall pass. We moms so often expect so much more of ourselves than is reasonable. My child used to go outside and take all her clothes off anyway when she was too hot at that age. Now she is grown and struggles with her own laundry. I did learn to take and fold a stack of only one thing and go put that up before someone helped by unfolding it. Time effective no, my reality, yes. Hope this helps you feel better.

    • It does. 🙂 Also glad to hear that someone else’s child goes outside and takes her clothes off. At what age did you put your foot down and make that stop?

  7. I put my foot down at age 2. She outgrew doing this between age 5 and 6. So my foot did not help much. maybe your foot will work better or you could just keep teaching and she will get the idea when she is ready. Her children take their clothes off too but they are only 1 and 2. She does not get as upset as I did. lol

  8. Tara, thank you so much for sharing this post and for keeping things “real” and honest. So often I feel discouraged or inadequate, reading all of those super-mom blogs or browsing the photos of beautiful, pristine homes on Pinterest doesn’t help matters at all.
    Aside from blogging and taking care of my one kiddo, I don’t have a job and too often I feel overwhelmed by the mess she makes. The other day, while I cleaned up one mess that she created in the kitchen, she created 2 more in the living room. I just never know where to start and vow to do it when she goes to bed at night. By that time, I just want time to myself. Laundry is an entrie issue of it’s own and it’s a never ending cycle that I just cannot keep up with. Reading this before turning in for the night makes me feel better knowing that I’m not the only one with a missing laundry basket full of clothes or a sofa full of laundry. Thank you, again! Hugs.

  9. Pingback: Weekend Links, 7.21.12 — Giving Up on Perfect
  10. LOL I have so been there. Especially with the laundry piles. My solution now is to let the clean laundry pile up all day and then have my kids fold it all and put all but mine and my husbands away, but when your kids are small I know that doesn’t work. I remember when they were younger our unfolded laundry lived in a mound on the dinning room table because there was always the kitchen table to eat at! Hang in there. I think every mom has had one of those days, weeks or years when they feel less than super.

  11. I’m popping over from Mary’s links this week:) My son is always out of underwear. Always. It’s maddening. Our problem is that he keeps having accidents and throwing them away. I have to admit that I throw some away too when I just don’t have the strength to clean one more poopy underwear. I don’t have much helpful advice, except I do try to carry an extra set of clothes, socks and underwear in the car for each kid. It’s come to the rescue many times. As for the house stuff. I just want to encourage you. I’ve been home full time, worked full-time, and now I’m back home full-time. It is what it is. My house has never really been that clean, or the laundry caught up. You do what you have to do.

  12. nobody is super mom. None of us. I’ll let you in on the secret… We each have a line we draw in the sand. Here are some of mine: laundry must get washed, but it is fine if it stays in laundry baskets unfolded. Dishes must be put in the dishwasher at least every other day, but mopping the floor can wait until it is gross. Fast food is fine a limited number of times a week, but I feel like a slacker if I don’t do home cooked from scratch at least 2x a week. You can’t do IT all, so figure out what YOUR all is, and do that.
    Also, I would make it a habit to ask your daugter if she has panties every time you buckle her in the car. Seatbelt = “are you wearing panties?”

  13. Um, Tara?? You couldn’t have written this post better, because you’ve said exactly what I have been wanting to put into words, but just haven’t–ahem–had the time to do. I feel like such an inadequate mother, too, because of the laundry, and that slew of half-finished projects littering the house. Something always have to be sacrificed: if I’m a good blogger, my kids get ignored, as well as the housework. If I’m a good mom, my blog goes dry and it goes days before I post. If I do what’s healthy and actually SLEEP…well, you get the point. I can’t tell you the number of bloggers lately that have been describing this same, “I’m-not-Super-Woman” woes, and I think it’s about time we realize that if we just try to stay in a routine, we’d feel a lot less inadequate, and a lot more balanced! 🙂

    If you’re interested, would love for you to stop by my blog, too!

    Thrift Diving

  14. I thought that I was the only one who had stacks of clean laundry all over the house…you aren’t alone in feeling this way. Sometimes I throw away or donate entire drawers full of crap just to feel like I can breathe!

  15. I know this is an older post – but it just popped up on Twitter and the title grabbed me for sure. I’m a terrible housekeeper and suck at laundry too. When T was younger and he was going to stay at Grandma’s for the weekend I remember all to often running to Target or Walmart and buying him a couple of new outfits, package of socks and package of underwear to pack in his bag. That inevitably added to the massive piles of laundry of course. It’s okay though, he survived, I survived. I’m sure Gracie survived with no underwear too – we all gotta go commando every once in a while!

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