Friday, March 18, 2011

Dirty Little Secret

Here's my secret: My house is usually messy. I'm not talking about call-the-health-department messy. I'm talking like there's usually toys scattered across the floor, beds unmade, some smudgy face or finger prints on the tv left as a reminder that Tralee or Hunter had been there, a sink full of breakfast's (and sometimes last night's dinner) dishes, cracker crumbs on the counter, and various craft/sewing projects taking over my dinning room table. Don't get me wrong, the messes that NEED to be taken care of, like when Hunter's diaper leaked onto the couch yesterday morning, get my immediate attention. It didn't take long for the steam cleaner to suck up and sanitize my couch back to normal. It's the everyday clutter that takes over my life, and I'm okay with it. . . for the most part. Here's the thing, if you were to call me and say, "Is it okay if I stop by in about an hour?" I would calmly answer you, "Yeah! Sure, come on by. I can't wait to see you!" Then as soon as I hung up the phone I would de-clutter, clean, sanitize, dust, vacuum, and cram each toy into the toy box as fast as I could in an hour. When you'd ring the doorbell, I'd answer and then say something like, "Come on in! Sorry the house is SOOOO messy" knowing full well it looks pretty neat compared to its earlier state. What a little liar I am.

I wish I was one of those people who could keep the house neat and tidy 24/7. I'm not. I let it go until I can't ignore it anymore, or until I'm expecting company. Most of the time it's as described above and I live in perpetual fear that someone will stop by unexpectedly and discover my dirty little secret. Either that or I wish I could just be okay that I'm not the best housekeeper, and not worry about what others would think of me if they found out. Today I actually discovered what would happen if someone discovered my messy secret.

A lady in the neighborhood dropped by with her four-year-old so we could chit-chat and let the kids play for a bit. She had come over before when my house had just had the One Hour Once Over by Leslie. I probably opened the door when she came by last time and did my usual, I'm-gonna-say-sorry-it's-messy-even-though-it's-clean-so-you-think-I'm-an-awesome-housekeeper-bit. Well, today my house was anything but tidy, and to be honest I had a bit of a panic attack when I opened the door and realized it wasn't just the UPS guy dropping off a package. It killed me to say, "Come in, sorry about the mess" and know I was telling the truth. I inwardly kicked myself for not cleaning earlier, and invited my visitor and her son in. Once the shame of being outed as my messy self wore off, I sat on the couch and visited with this woman as the REAL (messy house and all) Leslie. And guess what DIDN'T happen? She didn't point at me and shout, "YOU DISGUST ME WITH THIS MESS!" No one died due to the box of kleenex Hunter pulled off the counter and pulled each tissue out of earlier. And most importantly, my face didn't implode with all the shame and humiliation going on inside. Instead, she and I had a great conversation while our kids played together. She informed me that her house looks about the same as mine, and she felt right at home. The Atari games (yes we own an Atari thanks to Jim's big sister) stayed strewn across the floor, the crumbs on the kitchen counter sat patiently waiting to be wiped up, and the blankets my kids had made a fort out of last night stayed sprawled across the couch while this lady and I talked about our children, weight management, and the appropriate age to teach said children about S-E-X. It was a lovely hour-or-so, and I realized I wouldn't have minded if it continued longer, even with the mess. I also realized this woman had pretty much seen my house as bad as it gets, so anytime she comes over after this will probably be a step-up.

So what did I learn from this experience? My mom would probably answer, "I hope you learned to keep you house clean all the time so this doesn't happen again." Yeah, I wish that's what I learned, but I don't think I'll ever be a Hillary Housekeeper. Don't get me wrong, I like my house clean, I feel better when it's neat and tidy, and I'm a lot less stressed about unexpected company when the floor is freshly vacuumed. It's just that my house never stays clean for very long and I don't want to spend the better part of my life worrying about crumbs, smudges, and a carpet of toys (this raising kids thing goes by way too fast and as people often say, "you'll miss the mess when it's gone"). So I ask once again, what did I learn today? I learned that I shouldn't think the state of my house defines me as a good or a bad person. I am STILL a good wife, mother, crafter, baker, cook, and friend even if I'm lousy at the housekeeping thing. So stop on by (if you dare). Or if you prefer the freshly cleaned look, give me a call about an hour before.

Deep breath

Hello, my name is Leslie and my house is (more often than not) a mess. Pleased to meet you.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some tidying up to do. . . or maybe I'll just go jump on the tramp with the kids instead.


The Kelly Variety said...

I'd prefer a call, thanks! I'd like a call actually. In fact I think you should call me once a week and say you are coming over. Then you don't have to and I'll get a great start at a clean house! And if you do we can chat about . . . well whatever we want to chat about! Win, Win.

Necha said...

Oh leslie, I love it! And it makes the rest of us feel more makes me feel more weird. I wish I could be more like you. (And no I'm not calling you a slob...I mean more in tune to what really matters.) My house is always clean. When I'm incredibly stressed because of a messy house, it probably looks like most people's clean houses. I only spend an hour or so (usually less) cleaning a day-so its not like I neglect my kids, but I can't have peace to relax until its MY version of clean. I'm not ocd, just a nut case. Anyway...I have a problem...I'm necha, and I'm an over acheiver. :( lol

Leslie said...

Kelly, can you please call me every three or four days and tell me you're on your way over? Thanks. I'll do the same for you.

Necha, my mom is like you! She was/is a bit OCD with keeping the house in pristine condition. She would literally fidget if my brother and I made a fort using the couch cushions and wouldn't relax until they were back in place. She would NEVER relax or watch a movie with us until the kitchen was perfectly clean after dinner. Even during the movie she had to be folding laundry or ironing. Once we went to the fair and she couldn't have a good time because she said the house wasn't clean enough to come back to. I love her to death, she's just a neat freak. I think that's why I am the way I am.

Can you imagine if we combined our cleaning personalities into one? I think we'd then both become the most perfect women in the world! Let's do it! Either that, or just come clean my house for me once a week. I know the Monica (from Friends) in you would have a great time over here! :)

Michelle Burk said...

Leslie, you are perfectly normal. You've seen my house. When you have kids, you have mess. They just go together. And you have so much talent and creativity, you have to do something w/it, not just clean. That day will come.

Jim said...

I like to think Martha was good too even though she was more worried about her guests physical needs than spending time at Jesus feet like Mary. I know Mary made the best choice, just like I know you, my lovely Leslie, make better choices than your Mother. I'm not sure I can correct that flaw in my character because I like that about myself. I hope Heavenly Father sees the good in both of us and I take pride that your are my daughter. I am happy that you turned out even better than me and I am part of that!

Love you and your messy house,

Hannah S said...

I feel the same way!! As I get more children who make bigger messes I've started to stress less. And I blame the fact that I live under 1500 sq ft. But still, what it really comes down to, is that I'd rather being doing something else. Though....the mess drives me nuts when it builds up. And it stresses Tyler out which makes me more stressed. But once I clean it gets dirty in 2 minutes flat and then I think," Why bother?". I grew up in a messy house so it doesn't bother me so much except when I want to sit down and see a clean house. Or when people come over. But I've started not to care so much.
@ Necha, how do you clean for only an hour? You must have the method down well enough now. Or I am really slow.