Keeping Up

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Why do we women go crazy nuts cleaning our house when other women are coming over? Especially when other moms of young kids are coming ?Why do we suddenly eradicate any and all junk mail off our counters, vacuum under the molding, windex the back door, fluff pillows, put away shoes, and spray air freshener? Are we trying to mask the fact that we have small children? Who are we kidding, anyway? Who on earth are we trying to impress? Each other? I would really like to know the truth on this one. Is it true that you ladies feel impressed or distressed when you go over a young mom’s house and find it super tidy and smelling like roses?

See, I’m the mom that goes bonkers, really bonkers, when I have people coming over. Especially moms. I knock myself out straightening, straightening, straightening until my neck is killing me. Then I wipe every imaginable surface squeaky clean, because I know every guest of mine is going to notice those grimy fingerprints on my fridge the minute they step in to my house. I do things I normally wouldn’t bother with like scrubbing the sink, dusting the piano, and (I know I can’t be the only one that does this) windex-ing my picture frames.

Today, as I was, you know going OCD on the house, I stopped and realized a gucky, awful truth. I realized how I feel when I go over a young mom’s house and find it pristine: pressure. Pressure and stress. Pressure to keep up. Pressure to be as neat, as uncluttered, as sweet smelling. I never walked away from a playdate thinking of what a lovely house it was, I always end up growing more and more anxious thinking about all the more cleaning I have to do if they come over. I start tugging at my eyebrow the whole way home, “Hmm I’m going to have to get that floor buffer machine next time. Also, they absolutely cannot come over until I repaint the kitchen.” By the time I come home, I’m usually down a decent chunk of an eyebrow.

I stopped cleaning because I don’t want to be that unnecessary pressure to my guests. “hello company: I am not normally this clean as you my visitor are seeing! Hopefully you’ll only be here briefly to see my house immaculate, listen to my perfect children recite their prayers in Latin, soak in the pressure, then leave before my kids destroy my house and start licking their arms again” (Why do kids do that?) Oy vey. I can’t live under this charade any longer!

I’m proposing an idea to all mommies out there! How about, for each other’s sake, we leave some clutter out for each other? Leave the junk mail on the counter, or the shoes all over the floor. If you’re really ambitious, let the crumbs hang out on the train table!  Heck, let your house have that “I have toddlers and I don’t know where they dropped some food” smell. Show off your humanness! Think of how much more relaxed we’d be if we saw pieces of each other’s normalcy. C’mon, you really don’t expect me to believe that ANYONE with small children has a house as clean as the MOMA, right? Who are we kidding! We live in these houses, so lets stop trying to pretend they’re museums already.

I will go first, I promise. Come over and I’ll prove it to you. I am going to stop trying to spray my house with air freshener to get rid of that distinctly cheesy odor we have. I will try upon my honor to live with the fact that I have a 5 month old who spits, so I hope you can stand the cheese factory… I’ve already devised a little mantra to follow to help me stay in perspective, please add to it! (thanks to Amy, mom of 8, for the first one!):

Are the kids in clothes? Then the laundry is done.

Are there crumbs on the floor? Then you fed empty tummies.

Are there dishes in the cabinet? Then there are clean dishes.

Is there toilet paper? Then the bathroom is tidy.

Is there food in the fridge? Then you went food shopping.

Is the bed made? Then the bedroom is cleaned.

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4 thoughts on “Keeping Up

  1. Too many days go by when I feel like I maybe spent 5 minutes playing with my kids but ALL DAY cleaning and cooking. But you wouldn’t know it to see my house! I feel bad but SOMEONE has to clean the dishes, do the laundry, take out the garbage, pick up the toys, and on and on. I like to think that these are all the ways of indirectly taking care of the the kids, while directly taking care of them would be like changing a diaper, helping them to brush teeth, etc. I think my own standard of cleaning is, that I ask myself the question, if someone else were to come here, would they feel comfortable being here, too? Especially now that my 3 year old is going off to school, (they grow up so fast!) I am trying to make a bigger effort to put aside the house stuff, and spend some quality time with my little ones! I love your blog! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Indicative of a devoted mother …
    Your house will look perfect when you get to be my age…well, maybe- if you don’t entertain… I always wanted to put this up in my house somewhere…it’s one of my favorites:
    Mother, oh Mother, come shake out your cloth, Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
    Hang out the washing and butter the bread,
    Sew on a button and make up a bed.
    Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
    She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.
    Oh, I’ve grown shiftless as Little Boy Blue
    (Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).
    Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
    (Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo).
    The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing for stew
    And out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo
    But I’m playing Kanga and this is my Roo.
    Look! Aren’t her eyes the most wonderful hue?
    (Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).

    The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
    For children grow up, as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
    So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep.
    I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep. <3 Marm

  3. Pingback: Prayer Life (or lack of) | McSisters

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