Giving Up The Clean

Posted on | February 10, 2015 | 2 Comments

When I was knee deep in divorce, my house was almost spotless. I’m not sure if it was to prove to myself that I could keep it clean, or to prove to him that he shouldn’t have left, but for whatever reason, I worked diligently to keep the laundry done and the dishes done and the counters clean… and, and, and.  I’m not going to lie and say you could eat off my floor, but when you came in my house, even unexpectedly, you were going to find it very neat.

It turns out, for me, having a perfectly clean home is a sure sign of a perfectly messy life.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love having a clean house. And I work hard to keep this little home of mine as tidy as possible. But there are times the dishes sit in the sink. There are times when I don’t wash the pots and pans immediately after dinner. There are times when the beds just… don’t get made.

And yes, there are times when I have to wash a load of laundry three times because I somehow forget that it needs to be transferred to the dryer.

At first, I thought I was falling behind. I thought that maybe I was falling apart because didn’t I handle all this before? Wasn’t I able to do the dishes and the laundry AND everything else, before?

Last night, I was in a tailspin, trying to get the house back in to shape.  I was stomping around and getting aggravated with myself. I mean, how could I have done it all then and can’t seem to do any of it now? Why are there dishes in the sink? WHY IS THE FLOOR SO DIRTY? I had worked myself into quite the tizzy when it suddenly occurred to me that when I was in the midst of my divorce, having a clean house was, well…

It was the only thing I had control over.

I was exercising control over something small because all the big things were crazy and crazed and sad. I was putting my foot down and saying “This. This I can do, dammit. Look at how well I can do this.”

I’m honestly surprised that I didn’t take pictures of empty sinks and folded clothes and put them all over social media because that’s how it felt.  It felt like I was trying to prove that I was worthy of something or maybe everything.

But now?

Well, last night as I worked myself up over dishes and dirty laundry, something occurred to me. Now, I have a life for myself. I have a job I love, a boyfriend I love, a life that I love. I don’t have to prove my worth to anyone… not even myself.

And if knowing I’m worth the world is what I get in exchange for my clean house, then so be it. It’s a pretty good alternative. I’ll take the dirty dishes with the smiles over squeaky clean tears. I’m learning to cut myself some slack, to give myself the break I deserve. And if that means sitting down to watch television with Banks and J instead of immediately cleaning the dishes, then that’s what I’m going to do. Because my house may be cluttered and in need of a good clean, but my life is pretty perfect.

And that’s a trade I’ll take every day.


2 Responses to “Giving Up The Clean”

  1. Sharon
    February 10th, 2015 @ 11:28 am

    I must confess that, as much as I love having a clean house, I don’t love it enough to put forth a lot of effort toward that goal. . . especially since having children.

    I have noticed, though, that when I am feeling particularly stressed, I get these inexplicable urges to clean and declutter. I think it’s that desire to exert some control over SOMETHING that can easily be controlled.

  2. Ruth
    February 15th, 2015 @ 11:41 am

    I often use my to do list as an excuse to ignore the present. Not that my to do list isn’t legitimate… well, sometimes it isn’t. Who really needs to reorganize kids closets, kitchen cabinets, and the basement storage area on a quarterly basis? Nobody… except me when I’m trying to find an excuse not to deal with what is facing me today. Generally, my to list has real stuff that needs to get done, but when I dig deep within myself it is hard to deny that having the laundry done and put away is more important than meeting up with a friend for coffee, date night with my husband, or impromptu Candy Land with my kids.

    Thanks for the reminder that life is filled with things to do and that the most important ones rarely make it on my to do list.

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    Spilled Milk (and Other Atrocities) by Law Momma is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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