“Oh, my house is fine,” you say. “My kids don’t make too much of a mess. And I make them clean up after themselves.”
Lies. Lies, lies, dirty lies.
We know what you’re hiding. Between the constant juice spills, the piles of mail, the hardened splatters on your stove and the horrendous state of your microwave, this is why we can’t have nice things. Because whatever we have that’s nice is immediately wrecked, muddied, destroyed, or dog haired.
There are the spills, messes, and the fresh hell that is marker on the wall. My three-year-old went through a phase, for example, when he found any marker, crayon, or pencil his tiny fingers could grasp and used it to scrawl all over the walls in the hallway. I tried every cleaning solution known to man, including off-brand Mystical Erase and every hint offered by the cleaning genius Heloise, before finally concluding that God himself couldn’t get those marks off my wall. A year later, our hallway walls still look like an infant Jackson Pollock decided to get funky. You have no idea how bad this looks. Actually, you probably do.
If you have boys, you know that they pee in, but mostly around, the toilet. All of them. Even the grown boys. Even the dogs piss on the floor because it’s raining and they don’t want to go outside. I’m either stepping in pee or sitting in it. And don’t even get me started on poop, which my sons somehow manage to smear on the seat when they do their business.
The dogs poop on the floor, because why not? Then my kid throws his pull-up in the hamper and I accidentally wash it, and I have to spend half an hour scraping those weird diaper crystals off the inside of my machine and praying this doesn’t cause my almost-brand-new-washer to spontaneously combust.
When my kids use acrylic paint, they touch things — all the things — before they wash their hands. My puppy decided that couches were the most delicious things on God’s creation, and he ate three of them down to the springs. Three. We finally bought a giant dog crate and a new set of furniture at Goodwill, but one afternoon uncrated was all it took for him to gnaw up the edge of the cushion like a piece of raw steak. I may have cried.
And the mud. So. Much. Mud. Mud is sprayed and spattered throughout the backyard, it’s tracked through your house, smeared through your bathroom, and congealed on the bottom of your tub.
Kids shelve books sideways and leave them on the floor to get trampled. Even the library books. Babies chew on books, toddlers draw in books, and preschoolers use books as building material for Star Wars forts or whatever. Then they will spill juice on them, or smear them with mud.
They spill coffee on your laptop and drop your phone in the toilet. Even the kids over the age of you should fucking know better, which is extra maddening. You will have to take your phone to one of those shady fix-it places and pay a king’s ransom for repairs, because of course you forgot to buy insurance.
Kids build forts with all your pillows. Every last one of them, even the couch cushions so there’s no where to sit. Their fort-making will deform the pillows into weak, half-folded things that refuse to fluff properly. And because they used your comforter as the floor of the fort, now you have now pillows to sleep with and your bed is covered in muddy footprints.
You’re covered in stains, because they spill things on other things, they spill things on you. You have a love-hate relationship with bleach. You’ve ruined more black yoga pants than you can count trying to clean up their messes and spills.
We haven’t talked about the mountain of filth that’s under the couch, or the inside the minivan doors. You let them have food in there. You forget to make sure they carry in all their coats and hats and art projects and books and plastic dinosaurs and stuffed animals. And then you let them have apple juice from Starbucks, and it just squirts from that juicebox so nicely. That juice cements everything together in a fruit-fly-laden hellhole you shudder to drive, let alone reveal to strangers. But who has time to clean it out? No one. We’re too busy scrubbing poop off the seat of the toilet and bleaching the comforter.
And this is why we can’t have nice things.
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