“You did what????”
I stared at my husband with mild panic in my eyes, then quickly scanned the room. The pile of school artwork, which I hadn’t yet figured out how to throw away undetected, was still sitting on the chair. There was a basket of laundry in the hallway. Every pair of shoes my kids own was scattered about like whirlybirds trying to spread their seed. Clumps of dog hair were nesting in corners. Random food wrappers peeked out from the damnedest of places. Oh God, I didn’t even want to think about what the bathrooms looked like.
The evidence was clear: this was not a house fit for company. But sure enough, my husband had just confessed he’d had an impromptu get-together with a few other families while I was out of town on a girls’ weekend. They were supposed to be camping on our school soccer field as part of a church-organized event, but it had rained. And the backup plan of camping in the gym was quickly deemed unpalatable once everyone realized how hot and humid it was in there … and that sleeping on a gymnasium floor is even worse than a soccer field So my husband just decided to move the party to our place.
“Did the house look like this when everyone came over?”
Of course it did. Had I been there, I would have 1) anticipated my husband’s generous but asinine offer as soon as the words “Why doesn’t everyone…” left his lips and quickly interrupted with “…go get ice cream and call it a night!” or 2) sped home and Flo Jo’ed my ass around our house throwing clutter in a bag while leaving a trail of air freshener behind me. BUT I WASN’T THERE.
My husband rolled his eyes. “Nobody cares. Everyone had a good time. That’s all that matters.”
He is right. He is absolutely right, but I still could not get over the embarrassed feeling that other people saw how we really live. I mean, we’re not hoarders or anything. But dishes often sit in the sink. Toys almost never get put away in a timely manner. Laundry has become a permanent fixture of our decor. And let’s just say I save a lot of money on how often I DON’T need to restock toilet bowl cleaner and wood polish.
What’s my excuse? I don’t know. I mean, I am home most of the time. My kids are older and go to school all day. I should able to stay on top of the cluttered chaos, but other things just always take precedence. Somehow, that doesn’t seem a worthy enough reason to get a pass for a messy house. But damn it, why not? Why do so many of us still feel guilty about being more like the Cousin Eddie of housekeeping than the June Cleaver?
Well, here’s who SHOULD get a pass for a messy house:
1. Pregnant Women: Clean baseboards are not worth swollen ankles. End of story.
2. New Parents: You have WAY more sh*t to worry about than a spotless house. Like, stuff you don’t even know you need to worry about yet. Seriously. And now I’ve probably struck enough fear in you that you’re paralyzed and couldn’t clean anyway. So there’s another reason.
3. Parents Who Work Outside the Home: Putting in your 9-5, or whatever hours you work, deserves a little kick back time with a beer. Dads in the 1950s never felt guilty about doing it. Neither should you.
4. Work-at-home Parents: You’re putting in the same number of hours as #3, just with pajama benefits and the most excellent commute. But still … beer.
5. Parents Who Volunteer: Someone’s gotta do it, and those who don’t are über thankful for those who do. Many times, you work just as hard and as long as those who have jobs. Only you don’t get paid. Also, here’s a beer.
6. Stay-at-Home Parents: Being home with your kids all day doesn’t mean you can ignore them while cleaning your bathtub. Scratch that. They don’t LET you ignore them, and also usually undo any housework you are able to accomplish approximately 7.6 seconds after you’ve done it. In addition, knowing that daycare facilities provide all kinds of enrichment and socialization for the children who attend them just ups the ante for you until you find yourself morphing into some Pinterest-schooled early childhood educator.
7. People Without Kids: Because it’s not like kids are the only reason anyone gets busy or has messes.
8. Pretty Much Everyone: You know what? It’s your damn house, and you don’t have to clean it if you don’t want to. Unless you’re Gwyneth Paltrow. I think she has pretty much set herself up for meeting any and all unrealistic expectations.
So I’m going to start taking a page from my husband’s book and invite people over with abandon, despite what our house looks like. Feel free to stop by.
But maybe call first.