When I was a kid, I had this image of what my “someday house” would look like. I imagined a backyard where my future kids could play ball. We’d have a bright kitchen with a big, rustic table where the kids could color and do their homework. And the house would have a kind of shabby chic vibe like something out of a Pottery Barn catalog. It would be magical.
Well, two out of three ain’t bad. We’ve got a yard and a kitchen table, but shabby chic Pottery Barn décor? LOL, forever. It’s more of a We Have Kids and Dogs So This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things vibe going on.
Most of the time, I’m okay with this.
I’m okay with the chipped paint and crayon on the walls. I’m okay with the scuffed-up wood floors and the stains on the carpet. I’m okay with the baseball cards in every nook and cranny of the house. I’m okay with it because, despite the mess of our home, it is warm and comfortable and I’ve got about a gazillion other things to worry about other than fretting about my subpar decorating skills and nagging my kids to be careful! so as not to disturb my seasonal knickknacks.
It’s hard enough reminding my kids a gazillion times a day to brush their teeth and put their dirty clothes in the laundry chute that is literally right outside their bedroom door. I just don’t have it in me to care about whether the hand towels in my guest bathroom stay snowy white and properly folded. (We don’t even have a guest bathroom.)
But despite my general IDGAF attitude about having a, shall we say, lived-in home, sometimes I get bitten by the green-eyed envy monster after scrolling through social media or looking at a few catalogs. I’ll decide that my house is a disaster and become convinced that the only solution is to move or set it on fire.
But here’s the thing: Facebook is a lying liar who lies. So is Instagram. Pinterest? The fucking worst.
Listen, folks, no one’s house looks like the photos in the magazines, and I hate to break it to you, but damn near everything on social media is staged to some extent.
Sure, there are a few parents out there who have a perfectly coiffed home that meets aesthetic ideals. But this is the exception rather than the rule.
Allow me to paint a picture for you. Right now, as I write this, my “desk” consists of a scratched-up kitchen table covered with old art projects, a granola bar wrapper, and a random assortment of writing utensils. Looking out into my family room, you’d see an assortment of crooked photos, along with a picture of Cubs player Kris Bryant my son ripped out of a magazine and taped over a framed family portrait. (Yes, seriously.) And the first comment most people make when they walk into the room is, Why is there a jackass on your wall? Because, yes, there is a picture of a jackass taped to the wall (the donkey kind, not the human kind).
You know what? IDGAF.
Okay, that’s not entirely true. Like I said, I do give a few fucks, but only when I compare my very lived-in home with the crisp and clean museum-like homes I see in my Facebook or Instagram feed. And the bottom line is I just don’t care enough to spend my entire day cleaning up after my family, nor do I want to spend a shit ton of money on stuff for my home to feel decorated.
Do you really want to be nagging your family all damn day about using a coaster and not coloring off the page? Do you want to spend your money on fancy new furniture you are constantly worried about ruining, or do you want to hang onto that old, comfy couch a little longer so that when your nephew spills juice on it you can just say “fuck it” and move on? Do you want to live in a home where people are scared to mess things up, or where they feel comfortable to be who they are and enjoy the people they are with?
Here’s the bottom line: A family lives here, and families are freaking messy.
Everyone has their limits, of course, to what’s deemed lived-in and what’s disaster-zone. For me, it’s clutter — too much “stuff” makes me anxious and ragey. So I try to limit the amount of toys, decorations, and knickknack-y things in our house. I throw things away a lot. For others, cleaning might be cathartic or an essential part of self-care. And some people (not me, of course, but some people) actually enjoy decorating and making their home look beautiful. We’ve all got to find our own joy, and you do you.
But if your house looks like this…
Or your kids’ rooms look like this …
Or your closets looks like this…
Relax. It’s OKAY.
Chances are most of us, at some point, feel like our house is a disaster — even the wannabe minimialists, the clean-freaks, and the decorators. We lament the crayon on the walls and the chipped paint. We bitch about the Legos we’re constantly picking up. We rage about the string cheese wrappers and yogurt containers that never seem to make it into the garbage.
We hide our messes in closets and drawers, so that things appear to be more tidy than they are. Because we are innovative, creative thinkers.
Because this is is life. This is reality. This is normal.
This is home. So, invite people in, and stop stressing out. You’re doing just fine.