Hi Dr. Laura,
My heart was filled with compassion as I listened to the young mother with a 3 year old and 4 month old crying because she couldn't get anything done. You told her she was tired and you were spot on. I know that feeling and hope to share some insight now that my three sons are in their twenties. Three sons, the first two three years apart, the second and third 19 months apart - that should say it all - a tidy home was just a fantasy that I had to let fade.
One time I decided I was really going to clean everything up that day: I ended up just taking photos of each room for posterity to remind myself in later years why I felt a little overwhelmed at the time!
The reason I write, though, is this:
One day my nine year old son, the oldest at the time, had a friend over. We were in the middle of a basic bathroom remodel so the house was worse than usual. At the end of the day the father of the boy came to pick him up. He walked into our home and stopped dead in his tracks, looking at the chaos around him. I will never forget his words as I apologized for the total mess: "No," he said, "THIS GIVES ME HOPE FOR FAMILY LIFE."
I still get a little teary when I think how his words changed my attitude about it. No longer did I compare myself to women with spotless kitchens and spotless kids and a sterile environment. The noise, the music in the background, the play happening everywhere and my husband and I wading through it all supporting each other - I have no regrets. My husband and I will be married 28 years in June, we have three sons who love to come home and who are contributing members of society. The house is pretty tidy now. No more crying now...