I’ve been feeling particularly inadequate recently. Not as a wife, or a mother, but as a housekeeper. Most of the time I don’t really care what others think. After all, it’s my family, my house, and we’re happy. I couldn’t ask for more than that.
But a few weeks ago I visited a friend with a joyfully clean home. Everything had a place and was in it. then I visited a new neighbour and as I entered her house for the first time, she says, “Excuse the mess.” Her house was immaculate. Okay one bed was stripped since she was doing the washing, but otherwise her house was perfect. And she asked me to excuse her. I felt horrible. I’d invited them over to our house, but she invited me in instead. What would she have thought of my house?
I was horrified just thinking about it. I have my sewing machine on the table, fabric on the floor (in both my office and the dinning nook). I have books and papers piled high on my computer desk (spilling onto our coffee counter). There are various items on counters, and toys. Toys everywhere. From one wall to the next. On each level. Stickers attached to my carpet and even paint on the carpet, not to mention remnants of baby spit. The laundry is often just tossed into a closet, rather than actually put away. And that particular day there was toothpaste all over the girls’ bathroom counter. Our house is messy, but clean. Bathrooms are washed regularly, floors vacuumed every couple days (at the least) counters washed, dishes done, laundry washed, garbages, recycling, and compost taken out every night.
Today we arrived home from a day out and I almost hit the roof. There were dishes everywhere, the bathrooms hadn’t been cleaned, the laundry hadn’t been switched to the dryer. And supper needed to be cooked. It was all I could do not to start barking orders. But then I paused. Why should I be upset? Because the neighbour, who admits to frozen meals and take-out at least twice a week, has a spotless kitchen? I think not. Because someone who is either childless or who’s children have been grown for a number of years (and who doesn’t go out when there’s house work to be done) points out how many socks we have under our couch. I don’t think so.
Instead I thought about yesterday. We drove to Drumheller to see the Royal Tyrrell Museum, and we hiked the interpretive trail with the girls. Today I slept in, while Ryan played with the girls. We gave Agatha her birthday present early and we went for a walk, then to the playground. We had so much fun. Ella rode her bike, she was proud of how fast she rode, of how she kept her balance. I wouldn’t change that for anything. If my house were cleaner, I’d have had to say no to driving to Drumheller, I’d have had to keep the girls inside, the playdough would have stayed in the bag. the games wouldn’t have left the shelves. But we did do all of that, and at the end of the day I don’t want to clean either. I want to sit and enjoy a bath with Cordelia, then snuggle and read books. I want to watch her explore without fear of her sisters tackling her or taking toys, or just being bigger and louder than her.
I will not appologize for a messy house, because that messy house is time spent happy with my family. It’s taken me almost two weeks to realize this, but now that I have I won’t forget it easily. I hope everyone out there can also happily claim the mess associated with time spent having fun.