When I began my maternity leave, I had this perfect picture in my head of how I thought it was going to be. Twelve weeks off work? I was going to accomplish so much. My house would be spotless every day, and I would have dinner made every night. Maybe I would even get a little organizing done each day.

Now here I am eight weeks later, laughing at myself. Most days I’m lucky if I’m able to eat breakfast and take a shower. My husband arrives home from work at 3 p.m., and I am sitting on the couch, still in my pajamas, with spit up all over my shirt.

I used to feel guilty about this.

I felt guilty my husband was at work all day while I sat on the couch watching Netflix with my little one. I felt guilty I didn’t have a clean house every day. I felt guilty dinner wasn’t made when my husband got home every night. I felt guilty the laundry was piling up higher than I would like to admit. I felt that I had all the time in the world, yet I accomplished nothing.

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Today, I no longer feel this way. I will no longer feel guilty for the things I don’t get done. Because the things I am accomplishing every day aren’t measured by how clean or organized my house is.

I am accomplishing so much more . . . things that can’t be seen with the eye.

My days are spent feeding my little one, ensuring he is growing and getting the nutrients he needs. My days are spent reading to my baby, building a foundation for his first words he will one day speak. My days are spent playing with my little one, making memories that will last a lifetime. And these things far outweigh the benefits of having a clean home and an empty laundry basket.

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We as mothers feel the need to accomplish so much every day. We hold ourselves to such high standards because that is what is expected of us. We feel it is our job to tend to the home and the cooking as well as taking care of the children. And we feel ashamed when we fall short of that job. But we shouldn’t.

Because we’re doing the best we can. And that is all our little ones really ask for from us. That we do the best we can. And we should feel proud of it.

So if you don’t get to that sink full of dishes today, that’s OK. Because you’re doing better than you think. Let those dishes pile up and focus on spending time and creating memories with your little one because this is the time you will never get back. And if at the end of the day you have a happy and healthy baby, then you’re doing just fine.

Previously published on The Odyssey Online

Rachel Zeko

Rachel is a special needs therapist turned stay-at-home-mom to two little ones. She enjoys being outdoors, chasing around her toddler, and writing about the joys of motherhood.