Bless this Mess

Posted on | July 14, 2011 | 14 Comments

Last night I came home from work to a dirty house.  There were dishes in the sink because the dishwasher hadn’t been unloaded.  The trashcan was at the street and needed to be brought back up.  There was dog hair strewn across the hardwood floors, collecting in small little hair bunnies along the baseboards.

And for a moment, as I surveyed the house, I could feel bile rising up in my throat.  How could I live like this? How could I not be vacuuming EVERY DAY? How could I not find the time to unload and reload the dishwasher? When, oh when, was the last time I mopped the bathroom floor?  All my old anxiety started to brew and fester and I could feel the need for a good cry session coming on.

And then I stopped.

I looked around the house again.

Except for the dishes and, of course, the hair, everything was in its place.  Yes, the floors needed to be cleaned, but no one was eating off of them these days.  Yes, the bathroom could use some sparkle, but the tub and toilet were clean.  Yes, the bedrooms needed vacuuming, but the beds were made and the clothes mostly put away.

J was happily playing on his play mat and waiting on dinner.  AJ was curled up on the rug, happily resting.  The only member of our little household who was unhappy with the way this house looked… was me.

And what’s the worst that could happen? We are not living in squalor.

What’s the worst case scenario?

Someone drops by unannounced? I can count on one hand the number of times that has happened.

Something happens to me and other people see how dirty the house is? Eh, okay that did stress me out a bit until I realized that it wouldn’t matter then anyway.

Those were the only two things I could think of that should raise any sort of embarrassment about my housekeeping skills.  So I made dinner for J and unloaded the dishwasher.  I put the dirty dishes into the dishwasher and had my own dinner.

And when J went to bed, sure, I could have vacuumed the floors.  I could have mopped or scrubbed or folded clothes.  But instead, I watched So You Think You Can Dance and enjoyed a glass of wine.  Because what it ultimately boils down to is this: I don’t need to have a perfect house to be a perfect me.  I can’t do everything. And when the end of the day rolls around, it’s more important for me to take care of my well-being and J’s well-being than to stress over a collection of dog hair on the floor that will reappear every day, no matter how often I vacuum.

My house is still not perfectly clean.

But my child is happy and my heart is a lot less heavy… and those are so much more important.



14 Responses to “Bless this Mess”

  1. Chandler Francis
    July 14th, 2011 @ 8:49 am

    You have no idea how many miles you traveled in your journey by coming to this realization! Doing it all is overwhelming, but as I say– the family has food in their bellies, they are wearing clean clothes and their hair is brushed when they leave the house. If we have a few dust balls (2 labrador retrievers in my house) and maybe the junk mail hasn’t been put away– we are still okay.

    Congrats! 🙂

  2. Mary
    July 14th, 2011 @ 9:08 am

    HA good for you! I used to tell my mom “the Pope is not visiting today so why bother with it”.

  3. Liz
    July 14th, 2011 @ 9:23 am

    I feel like this a lot! There’s so much pressure have a perfectly clean house, cook a perfectly well-balanced meal, etc. — and that’s on top of the billable hours pressure, networking, blah blah blah from work. I’m going to try to remember this next time I feel like the dog hair dust bunnies are winning…

  4. Dre
    July 14th, 2011 @ 9:56 am

    Ha! You are doing waaaay better than I am, and we are a two kid- two lawyer household. Beds made? Rarely! You are rocking this, sister!

  5. KLZ
    July 14th, 2011 @ 10:53 am

    My house will never, EVER be perfectly clean. Not for a minute.

  6. New Mom on the Blog
    July 14th, 2011 @ 11:05 am

    Good for you for giving yourself a bit of a reality check. I’m impressed you only had small hair bunnies instead of large hair buffalos 😉

    As for uninvited guests who may see your house not completely tidy:

    1. You could always leave a cleaning item (ie: vaccuum, broom, mop, etc.) sitting out so that if they stop by unannounced, they’ll see it and thing, “Oh, I must have interrupted her before she could clean up this mess!”

    2. You could defriend anyone who would think the thoughts at the end of item 1. IMMEDIATELY.

    3. You should also defriend anyone who drops by unannounced. WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE?!

    Just kidding.
    I love your blog and how real you allow yourself to be on it. I don’t comment often, but I sure do love to read it. I think you’re awesome.

  7. Maggie
    July 14th, 2011 @ 11:16 am

    I had this same moment this week-end. I looked around my house and saw only dog hair, unclean dishes, kids toys everywhere, and started to freak out. It’s amazing how quickly things stack up. I decided putting the dishes in the dishwasher and sweeping up the dog hair was good enough and then relaxed. My house wasn’t much cleaner, but as you noted, who am I worried I’m going to offend? No one seems to care but me. Good call relaxing and watching SYTYCD!

  8. Roxanne
    July 14th, 2011 @ 12:13 pm

    Yes, yes, yes. This is exactly the same realization I have had to come to. The dishes are piling up in the sink, but they are all rinsed off so it’s not gross. These things can wait. I have someone much more important to spend time with. And after he goes to bed, I still need time for me. 🙂

  9. Anthony from CharismaticKid
    July 14th, 2011 @ 12:15 pm

    Now you get it!

  10. Christine
    July 14th, 2011 @ 12:38 pm


  11. Maija @ Maija's Mommy Moments
    July 14th, 2011 @ 2:23 pm

    Standing up at my desk… giving you a standing ovation… okay not really but I’m thinking about it and definitely think you deserve one!

  12. KristinaYellow
    July 14th, 2011 @ 10:28 pm

    I swear it’s like you are reading my mind! I see the same things but I admit I feel like I “should” have it all perfect since I work evenings (PT teaching) and stay at home with my daughter during the day. However, as my DH reminds me, I have 2 chronic illnesses and both limit my energy and honestly, my first priority should be my kid. Who cares if I only vacuum once a week (or every other?)? Who cares if the bathrooms get a little messy and laundry piles up a bit? My daughter laughs and plays and we have experiences to share and things to explore. I doubt anyone dies saying “If only I had cleaned up more!” I want to be satisfied that I spent the time with those I love-and hopefully that will be in a marginally sanitary place-but I’m determined to let the little stuff go. Granted-much easier said than done. Haha.

  13. krlr
    July 14th, 2011 @ 10:41 pm

    A neighbor once told me that her theory is the more time she spent cleaning, the less time she spent with her kids. It’s now my personal mission to see how filthy my house can get. I can only hope social services sees it the same way [kidding!]

  14. Justice Jonesie
    July 14th, 2011 @ 11:05 pm

    Yay, I love this!! Good for you! Sometimes I do the same thing. Look around, feel panic and then Ihave to stop and remind myself that this is not the end of the world! Just some dirt. Just some dog hair, we’ll all live!

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