You can’t come over to my house. I’m not being cute. I’m not playing the “oh no, my throw rugs are wrinkled and someone dumped Legos on the floor” game (though my throw rugs are wrinkled and someone did dump Legos on the floor). I’m not being overly obsessive. I don’t have an honest-to-god case of OCD, an anxiety disorder that would lead me to think you’d judge me for some dishes in the sink (and there are dishes in the sink), or a delusion.
My house is an absolute mess and you can’t come in. An honest-to-god, holy-shit, did-a-natural-disaster-strike mess. And you can’t see it. You would be appalled. Hence, no one but my mother has come in our house for almost a year.
This is not bullshit.
My house is a mess, but it’s not dirty. There are no roaches. There is no food cached, no ickiness or germy stuff or mugs half-filled with liquid in them. You won’t find old plates or cups around; we keep them stacked neatly by the sink, thankyouverymuch, one of the things we do actually manage to keep on top of, like laundry (it may not make it into the drawers, but goddammit if it’s not clean and in baskets). Thank my husband for that. These two things, we do. We also take the garbage out. We pick the trash up off the floor.
As for the rest of it … my house is a mess.
Example number one: the White Witch would hate this household. For it is here that, come rain or heat or hurricane, it’s always fucking Christmas. Like, we never took down the Christmas decorations. It’s been months and months and months and by this point I’ve put my foot down: they will just stay up until they become relevant again. Happy fucking holidays, the tree is trimmed and the ornaments are dusty and the manger figures have been scattered through the living room, and I will never decorate for any holiday again ever because we are clearly incapable of cleaning up after ourselves.
I have told the kids: this year, we’re picking it all up. You get a tree. That’s it. They have nodded their heads. “I think that’s a good idea, Mama,” my 9-year-old said, and you know your house is a mess when your kid is agreeing. Desperate times, desperate measures and all that.
I have to keep the front curtains shut. You can’t let the neighbors see the Christmas village in July.
We have basically ceded the front of the house to the children. They have a playroom. We demolished our formal dining room to give it to them. We put all the family furniture into storage and moved their toys into it. There. That ought to contain the mess. It didn’t. It only meant that the formerly formal dining room became literally knee-deep in toys no one will fucking let me get rid of, because I have a husband with the dark heart of a hoarder, one who says “we might use that some day, so you can’t donate it,” and “oh, the kids love that so much, don’t get rid of it.” That formal dining room meets the living room, so the kids’ toys and playspace spilled into it. And since it was filled with Christmas decorations anyway, we weren’t using it. So the kids now have the entire front of the house, including the front hall. You literally have trouble walking through it.
Then there’s the usual: stuff piled on tables, things out of place, craft supplies left out, art projects undone, kids’ room a mess, clothes baskets everywhere, blah blah blah. My house is a mess. I need to pick it up. We’ve had a giant pile of clothes on top of our dog crate in our bedroom for like a year now and I need to deal with that.
And when your house is a mess like this, you cannot let people see it. You are judging me right now. You are thinking, why the hell doesn’t she just clean it the fuck up?!
I don’t have time.
No really, I don’t have time.
My husband works full-time. He leaves at the asscrack of dawn and comes home at five in chronic pain. He does what he can, and it’s not much, god bless his soul and I love him for it. In the meantime, I’m educating our children (we have several, and yes, that part of our lives is not messy, thank you; we keep it in order, and we don’t lose our library books).
As a work-at-home parent, I wake up at 5 a.m. every goddamn morning, including the weekends, and I start working. I stop to parent. Then I work some more again. I do not stop until I go to bed at night. So my house is a mess, but I’m launching a career and doing what I love. And no, I can’t afford help.
So I work 12-14 hours a day, plus parenting, and he works full-time, plus parenting, and something had to go and it was the fucking house, and you go ahead and find fault with that.
Oh, I’ll wait. Judge away. I sleep for four to five hours a night. You think I ought to sleep for three so I can take down the Christmas tree? If there were a hell, I’d tell you to go there. I hear it’s toasty. If I have any spare time, I spend it with the things I love the most: my children. The house can fall apart around me for all I care.
Anyway, in December, the decorations will become relevant. We’ll make the kids clean up their playroom. I will take a precious, precious afternoon and fold the laundry and sort it again. Then I will take one goddamn day. I have it marked on the calendar. Everything comes down. We get our rooms back. The house returns to normal and I institute an “anything left out is tossed out” policy.
So I have a plan.
Until then, my house is a mess and no you can’t come in. It’s isolating. It sucks. Thank god my mom is nice enough to look the other way. I love you, Mom, and it means the world that you close your eyes. A few select friends we love very much, who we know won’t judge us — they can come in.
The rest of you: fuck off. Amazon, leave the packages on the steps. Pizza guy, I’m coming around the side door to meet you. I can’t risk a glimpse of the Christmas village.
This article was originally published on