Friday, March 27, 2009

reflections of a lazy housekeeper

(Continuing this discussion.)

I've been thinking a bit more about the whole messy house thing.

Particularly about how it relates to friendships/hospitality/appearances, etc. I'm not going to deny that I frantically clean and tidy up prior to having company over. I want the house to look "clean and tidy" for my friends and family, even if that doesn't AT ALL necessarily reflect the state of my house on a daily basis.

Do I do this out of love and respect for those dear to me? To show them that their visit was looked forward to with anticipation and was thus deserving of extra care and attention to detail?

Or do I do it to hide the truth? The sticky-chairs, crumb-covered-floor, dust-bunnies-under-the-couch truth that...


I know that I'm not a BAD housekeeper. When I do DO it, I do it well. I'm generally good at anything I set my mind to. The problem is that my mind is almost always on things OTHER THAN HOUSEWORK. The exception being when we're having people in for a visit or a meal, when my thoughts are full of meal ideas, food prep, logistics of, say, feeding 6 adults and 7 kids at a table that seats four... and the currently level of cleanliness of my house. Or -more often than not- the lack of cleanliness.

If you go over to Her Bad Mother and read all 150+ comments to her post, you'll quickly see that those to claim to have a clean house also admit to having hired help to keep it that way. I'm not even sure it's possible to have a spotless home when said house also contains kids. So if it's not possible, than why do moms everywhere put such pressure on ourselves to have a clean house?

Is it because we think that every other mom IS able to keep a clean house? That we're the only one with a drawer/cupboard/closet/room of shame? That we're alone with our dirty little secret?

There's just so much more to being a mother than a spotless floor and weekly-disinfected door knobs. Being a mom is hard! I think it would be great if we could acknowledge that truth and not try to hide the constant challenges that come with the territory. Honestly, I think that all moms do acknowledge that truth, but we don't feel comfortable enough to admit it to each other.

At least not at first.

I think it takes a level of comfort and ease that comes with knowing another person well before we're able to drop the facade.

So, if you come to my house and it's all sparkly and shiny clean, take it to mean that I love you and wanted to make extra special preparations for you visit OR that I'm too intimidated by you to show you my normal mess.

If you show up to floors strewn with toys, the breakfast dishes still on the table and seven loads of laundry waiting to be washed, know that we've reached that level.

We're now THAT kind of friends.


  1. I love people and our friends to just drop in. Sometimes the house is sorta clean and sometimes it is very messy-even with no little ones. We live here and don't always pick up behind ourselves. The coffee pot is always ready and I might even have some cookies or bread to share. The important thing is that others feel free to come past whenever they want or need to. Your children will remember how fun their lives were with each other and Mom and Dad and that will be the memories they cherish. Love ya, A. Dianne

  2. Hi Amy! I just want to let you know, than I am exactly like you. And I'm sure we are definitly not alone. Being a mom really is an hard job, and taking care of the kids is the number 1 on my to do list...A long way before the cleaning! You know...with a day care and a white floor in my kitchen, I prefer to play with the kids instead of cleaning it every day!
    Like your blog title...
    My house may be dirty but my kids are happy! (hahaha)
    I love you the way you are and not by how your house is clean.
    And don't worry, I'm sure than all the moms feels the same!
    Big kisses

  3. does chinese food in the hallway beside the bathroom mean that we've reached "that level" of friendship?? miss you.

  4. Awww! I agree, some things are just more important.

    I think disinfecting everything isn't too good for the kids. My own personal opinion. How are they supposed to be immune to certain diseases if they are NEVER exposed to them? They'll get sick so quick the second they go to school! Sorry.... I just got a bit carried away...

  5. yep, I am exactly like you :) Perhaps I'll do a post on it too one of these days!

    by the way, I still need your mailing address to pass on to the Zoom album sponsor so you can get your prize :)

  6. Once just after I was married I read an article in a magazine that was a reprint of a "How To Be a Good Housewife" article from the 50s. It talked about how often you should be cleaning everything and I was just overwhelmed at the schedule of cleaning. There is no way I keep that up today...I guess I'm no 50s housewife!


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