Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Facade

Recently I've been pleasantly surprised by compliments I've received on the state of my house.  The term "spotless" was used.  That is not true, but apparently I had someone fooled.  Another friend asked me how I keep things "so clean."  I'm putting that in quotes because that's where it deserves to be.  As in those were her gracious words but not necessarily the truth.

Now I will admit that I am an organized person.  I'm efficient and hardworking.  But this place gets to be a mess.  I'm betting everybody's place gets to be a mess sometimes.

Here's an example from today.  I took my three lovies to the grocery store.  We are blessed to live in the land of Wegmans, and one store close by actually has a free childcare service called WKids.  So we dropped off my son, and I proceeded to shop with my two-year-old daughter in the cart and my new-baby-daughter strapped to me.  She cried on and off while we navigated the produce section.  I was steering with one hand and holding a binkie in her mouth with my other hand.  I earned a lot of graces as numerous people passed me and thought "God bless that poor woman!"  I know people were thinking that because several of my fellow shoppers commented on how I had my hands full.  And I thought it was funny because usually there's a super-lively three-year-old boy in tow.  But I didn't want to brag.

I digress.

We got home and the baby started to cry.  So I started chucking bags full of groceries into the fridge and freezer.  Bags, not items, I mean plastic grocery bags full of yogurts, butter, and cheeses.  I had to leave the rest of the stuff on the floor and then keep a really good ear on my two-year-old to make sure she wasn't getting into anything dangerous (e.g. plastic bags) while I fed the baby.

Are you getting an image of this mess?  On the floor are crushed up leaves, shoes, groceries, empty bags, a diaper bag, and my purse.  The fridge is booby-trapped with plastic bags of food that I'll have to put away later.

So I'm feeding the baby, reading Little Pig Robinson to my son, and listening to my daughter run around playing with all the groceries I left on the floor.  I'm calling "Come out here!  Mommy will read to you!" in my funnest voice.  But she kept playing.

Then she got organized with a real game.  Carry all of the groceries to the basement door and make a mountain of food.  And then my son joined her.

So I sat back and enjoyed their happy giggles and mentally went through the things I had bought to think if there was anything there that would be destroyed (and fortunately there wasn't).  At least I had a moment to sit quietly.  They were so busy in their "naughtiness" that they weren't trying to kill each other, so that was good.

This was the end result.

So this house that is called "spotless" is actually a place of controlled chaos.  If I know someone is coming over, I do a quick once over so things look picked up.  But most of the time there is some sort of crazy thing like this going on.  The perfection (and it's really not perfection, it's perceived perfection) is merely a facade.

When a friend looks at my house, she sees things picked up and clean.  When I look at the same house I see blinds that need to be replaced, trim that needs a good scrub, hand prints on the windows, a closet that I need to clean out...  There's the constant to-do list in my head.  But it's in my head-not anyone else's.

So the point of this post is to say Relax.  Every house with children has crazy messes.  No one has it together.  That's impossible.  It's not like the groceries magically float themselves into the cupboards.  It's not like there aren't dirty dishes and piles of clothes ready to be laundered.

Now, obviously there are times when things get really out of control.  Sometimes for good reasons (e.g. a newborn, an injury) and sometimes for bad reasons (e.g. laziness).  And we need to make sure things are sanitary.  But I bet a lot of us are doing better than we think.  The goal can not be to have a perfect home all the time.  That's just ridiculous.

But I must admit, I wish it were that way.  It's like in the Weezer song "Beverly Hills":

Look at all those movie stars
They're all so beautiful and clean
When the housemaids scrub the floors
They get the spaces in between

I do sing that quite often when I'm scrubbing.  It's a nice idea.  But I'll never have a housemaid.

We need to let ourselves off the hook.  We can't let this desire for perfection steal our peace.  It shouldn't keep us from playing with our kids or having enough energy to love our husbands.  For me, the goal is controlled chaos.

1 comment:

  1. Mary,
    Cute story. I suppose those bananas are finally ripe by now.