It’s nothing personal. Clean houses just wig me out. I’m always wondering…can I touch this? Can I sit here? Is this for show or to actually use? Like those little towels people hang up this time of year – you know, the ones with the appliqués on them? Why would anyone do this to an item meant to soak up moisture? And once you have successfully dried your hands, you feel obligated to fold it back just so in order to display said cutesy appliqué appropriately. It’s insanity. But I digress. Let’s return to the point, shall we?
For those of you out there who have children and manage to keep a clean house, I applaud you. Mostly because you scare the hell out of me, and I don’t want to offend you, lest I have some horrible dust-rag accident while sleeping. But as much as I admire your efforts, don’t expect me to come over anytime soon. Or ever. My children would turn your house upside down before you could say "Nanny 911". And don’t expect me to invite you over, either. If you are concerned enough about the condition of your house that you find it necessary to trail after your little ones and pick up every little dropsy (or even worse – have successfully trained them to do it), I am relatively sure your head would explode upon entering my home. Not that I live in a pigsty, or anything approximating it. But by the heavens…I have children! Messy, drawing-on-the-walls, what-the-hell-did-you-just-wipe-on-my-couch, don’t-eat-that-you-have-no-idea-how-old-it-is-and-what-were-you-doing-under-the-bed-in-the-first-place children. And that’s how it should be, in my opinion.
Children are visceral, primal creatures. And while I can understand the need to instill a sense of general tidiness in them, eventually you have to pick your battles. Well, maybe you don’t, little Martha Stewart-esque reader. But I do.
Is it a big deal if my son decides to see how long half of a peanut butter sandwich will stick to the wall before falling off? Yes, yes it is. Because eventually one of the animals will smell/see it there, and commence tearing the wall to pieces trying to reach it. Now, if he sticks it where the dog can reach, I might be persuaded to ignore it. (Side note – never, ever, ever have small children without at least one dog. You have no idea how much work it will save you. You’re welcome.)
Is it a big deal if my daughter draws a stick figure of herself on her doorframe and writes her name under it? No, I don’t think it is. It’s cute, it’s an artistic expression, and I only allow them access to washable markers. What do you think I am, stupid?
Yes, you could write your own name in the dust on my shelves more often than I would like. (If you do, please just refrain from dating it. Thank you, The Management.). But that is not what I see as important. My children are crazy, funny, creative, interesting little individuals. I would rather enjoy the chaos of a sheet tent collapsing all over my living room and trapping at least three animals underneath with us and all the dollies that were invited to the tea party. (Note: Be sure to stop at the entrance of the tent to get your stamp before proceeding to the party. My daughter is quite firm on this.)
Does it matter in the grand scheme of things whether or not their clothes are picked up, or their shoes put in just the right place, or my home is always show-ready? No, no it does not. What matters is that when people walk in my door, they feel relaxed, at ease, at home, and do not completely freak out if their kid drops spaghetti all over my floor. That’s what the dogs are for, anyway. And that is what is important to me. A sense of comfort, of welcoming, no matter where they come from or who they are. A place of rest, with no judgment or comparisons of best housekeeping tips.
In the immortal words of my friend who visits with her two kids often, “You know, your house always makes me feel better about my own.”
I’ll take that as a compliment.