Me: My house is such a mess!
Friend: You’ve been saying that every day since you built the house in 1994…clean it!
Me: But I don’t want to! I hate cleaning!
Friend: So then don’t, but own it. Accept the fact you’re not going to have a perfectly clean house, quit stressing about it and move on. It’s not your thing.
Ok, my friend is right. It’s not my thing and I have been complaining about it since 1994. So today I’m going to own it, but I feel so alone! And guilty…and judged…and embarrassed. First, let me be clear in case my kids are reading this and dying of embarrassment. Our house is not disgusting (well most of the time) and I’m not like an episode of Hoarders, I’m just messy…always have been. And I hate to clean…always have. I tell people I was in the bathroom when God gave out the clean gene. I was running out pulling my pants up yelling, “Wait! I’m coming!”, but he had already finished.
I go out of my way to try and catch someone else with a messy house. I pop in unannounced hoping to find some shoes lying around, maybe a blanket on the floor…nothing. I purposely go over after dinner wishing there might be some dishes in the sink or an unwiped counter…nothing. I make excuses to walk by their bedroom just praying for an unmade bed…again nothing. What is wrong with me?!? I can hear some of you reading this now. You’re saying, “Whatever. Every time I come to your house it looks great.” And you’re probably right…because I know you’re coming! It’s the only time I really motivate to clean! That’s why I entertain a lot, otherwise who knows what it would look like!
Obviously I’m capable of cleaning and I actually do a good job when I do it. And I LOVE a clean house…makes me seriously so happy. And the stress I feel when it’s a mess is crippling sometimes. So why don’t I just clean it? I don’t know. I use the excuse I’m busy. I work full time and most days after work I’m at a game or practice or running errands of some sort. When I get home at 7:00 or 8:00, cleaning is the last thing I want to do. But I know it’s an excuse. I see other working moms as busy as I am AND still have a clean house. Cleaning is just not a priority for me. That’s the bottom line.
So here it is for the whole world to see…there’s a good chance my house might be a mess when you pop in. But our house is a home. You and your kids are welcome any time. You don’t have to worry about scratching our hardwood floors, they are already scratched. You don’t have to worry about spilling something on the carpet…it’s already stained. I have paint on my jeep and kitchen table from high school paint parties. I have scuffed up walls where the paint has come off in my kitchen from a wrestling match between a bunch of boys. My lighting fixture hanging upstairs is broken from soccer balls being kicked back and forth. I have dents in my garage door from hours of practicing volleyball serves. My kitchen stool is broken from a friend laughing so hard she fell off it and it broke. I can’t bring myself to fix it because seeing it still makes me laugh. My coffee table legs look like half eaten corn on the cob from my “sweet” dog’s chewing problem and there are always cans of drinks all over the house from all the kids coming in and out of the house. Even with the mess, my kids love to have friends over. “It’s comfortable” they tell me. “We don’t have to worry about stuff when we are here.” And they don’t. It’s important to my husband and I to have a house everyone feels comfortable coming to. A house people want to hang out in and they don’t have to worry about breaking something or ruining something…it’s all just stuff and nothing so valuable it can’t be replaced.
But I still struggle. I’m still extremely jealous of all of you with clean houses. Even though my husband and kids are more than capable of cleaning (and they do), somewhere deep inside I still feel like it’s “my job” to keep a clean house and it’s a reflection of me when it’s not. Even though my husband tells me not to worry about it, it’s just who we are, I still worry. I still get embarrassed, I still feel like a failure. Although I feel alone in this battle, statistics say I’m far from alone. Workingmother.com conducted a survey and found that 68% of readers felt significantly or strongly guilty about their not-clean-enough homes. They felt more guilt over that than spending enough time with their kids. Why are we so hard on ourselves? We live in a different time than our mothers did. Life is busier and busier but our standards and expectations are becoming higher…we feel the pressure to do it all, and do it well. I can’t keep up so I’m cutting myself some slack. Come over and have a glass a wine with me, messy house or not. I promise to have enough wine on hand you won’t even remember the mess!!