Thursday, August 30, 2007

Is someone coming over?

Here's my latest column (although, just between you and me, it's really just an old post...).

People who know me are well aware that I'm not very domestic -- that's a nice way of saying my house is a mess, I'm always behind on laundry, and my children eat a lot of macaroni and cheese. But I thought I had my kids fooled.

That is, until a couple days ago when Kaleb asked, "Mom, who's coming over?"

"No one. Why?"

"Because you're cleaning the house."

It was one of those rare days when I was cleaning the house just because. Because I wanted to clear a pathway through the playroom and to clear my mother-conscience.

But apparently my children are onto me. I'm beginning to wonder how long it will take me to get it. I'm a grown person with an advanced college degree who just can't apply the whole optimal time management thing.

Case in point. When we lived in Utah I would watch twin 5-year old girls every Thursday from noon to five. From nine to eleven every Thursday morning I'd madly clean the house. The kids' room especially had to be orderly, a ridiculous notion for a preschooler play-area. But like clockwork, every Thursday my house would be immaculate by noon only to look like a presidentially declared natural disaster by 5:30. Why clean a house that will only, just hours later, look worse than it did before you started to clean it? Wouldn't an educated person wait and clean the house after the kids had left so she could enjoy her work longer?

I do the same thing for the babysitter. Just yesterday I found out my sitter couldn't watch the kids at her house, so I spent three hours cleaning the four rooms I allow people access to (my bedroom, the garage, and the basement are currently off-limits, and have been since we moved here). And after all that work my sitter kindly forgave me for my messy house. "Your kitchen looks like ours does when my mom blows a gasket," she said. Apparently one person's clean is another person's mental collapse. *Sigh*

So I've realized that I'm the kind of person who would clean her house before the maid comes. I'm also the kind of person who, when she cleans, doesn't even make babysitter-clean standards. At some point I'll need to embrace my domestic anti-goddess self and call it good. I'm an artist, I tell myself, cleanliness and order are in opposition to my creativity. Why not rejoice and let the world see my disarray?

But there's hope. Today as we were cleaning Kaleb’s bedroom, he said, "Christian's room is so messy." Christian is my babysitter's little brother. "Messier than your room?" I asked innocently. "So messy," Kaleb said. "And he never cleans it."

Redemption can sometimes come from the little tattlers living with you. I wonder if Christian's messy room is what makes my babysitter's mom blow a gasket.

I'll probably continue scrambling to get my house clean before visitors arrive. And if I ever blow a gasket the authorities might have to declare my house a biohazard.

But until then, this is just my dirty little secret.


Mama Zen said...

Love this post! I clean like a mad woman, but can you tell? No!

suburbancorrespondent said...

I have just one word for word...Flylady. She "gets" us. She knows what we need. I love her.

my minivan is faster than yours said...

That's so funny, because we have a cleaning lady (I know, but we really, really NEED one!) who comes on Thursdays, so by about Monday or Tuesday each week we stop cleaning.

I really wonder what that woman tells her friends about us!

Candygirlflies said...

Oh, you make me laugh so hard!!

I SO get the cleaning-thing. We have several standards in our house, too. I do a "pick-up" before the Rescue Team (our bi-weekly house cleaners) arrive. I do a "tidy" before the babysitter comes (this includes scrubbing bathrooms).

But when it's company coming over, I rally the troops and screech, "It's CLEAN-UP TIME!!"

My six year old usually asks me, "Do we need to be MUMMY-clean, or GRAMMA-CLEAN??!!"

I apparently don't take after my mother as much as my husband says I do...

Erin said...

Men don't get it either! Jason always thinks I am mental when I clean for the sitter. But if the house is relatively clean, they usually keep it that way. "Clean the playroom" is one of the cards on the chore chart that rarely gets done. So Jill is not allowed in there for her own safety :)

LikeAstaR said...

Oh I can't stand dirty house, but I REALLY can't stand cleaning the same messes over and over. I have considered getting a cleaning lady. My husband says that I wouldn't be allowed to tell anyone that we had one. I guess he thinks it would be admitting defeat! HAHA

Mrs. Smith said...

One of the advantages of living in India is that we can afford a house keeper. We have never had a clean house before this. But, you had better believe that six mornings a week I get my kids up for the "pre maid" clean up. This amuses my husband to no end.

Shauna Loves Chocolate said...


Kristi O said...

We are soul sistas. Last year I rec'd the best advice possible from a good friend at work, she told me nicely... some people are better at cleaning than others. It let me off the hook. I then hired a housekeeper. she comes twice a week during school and she walks on water on my book. My house is lived in by us and 4 you wouldn't want to eat off my floors so don't try. Love me love my clutter. Today I did unpack from my week away which is unusual. Hang in there. I think its great your kids are on your side.

Eileen said...

Love this post so, so much! I think you and I have this "dirty little secret" in common. When my mother in law comes or any of my husbands famiy, we go on a cleaning frenzy. Other then that, it is just trying to get the basics done, after work and school, before passing out. Such is life, and that is ok with me.
My kids are clean, I am clean, they eat on clean plates, eventually laundry gets done.....I will never have a perfect looking house and I have finally accepted that is just who I am..for now...until the kids are gone and I can hire a cleaning lady.
Love your blog! You are a great writer.

Rachel said...

I think that a lot of us have this very same secret...and all of our kids are onto us too. stinking kids!

Becky said...

I remember reading this earlier....still funny.

I do the same thing with the babysitter....clean before they come and she is only 16....why I care...I dunno?

mamacita chilena said...

oh my gosh, you should just never clean again. it's so much stress and the end result is never worth it. no matter how much you clean your house will never be clean enough for people that come to visit (like your MIL for instance!)

pinkmorning said...

no matter how long i spend cleaning our home, it seems by the time i am done, it is time to start cleaning in the place i is an endless job...great post.

shauna said...

Oh, bless you all (especially those who get the dirty house thing). And for those of you with a cleaning service...I'm so very jealous (although, per the post, I'd have to clean like a maniac before each scheduled cleaning...).

Thanks for your comments!