Wednesday, November 12, 2014

It's Not Messy, We Just Live Here

My house is messy.

If you've ever been to my house, I've probably apologized profusely for the mess. I might have asked you to please not look at the clutter. I might have requested that you hold back on your judgement and silently hoped you wouldn't notice the herd of dust buffalo roaming the front hall (Seriously. They are too huge to be considered dust bunnies. They are more the size of grazing bison... and they like to drift in herds.)

It's funny how I don't seem to notice the unmatched socks draped over the arm of the couch or the stack of junk mail teetering on the hall table or the paper towels the dog dragged from the trash bin and then shredded all over the dining room floor... until I have a guest. Then those things (along with the karate bags carelessly tossed by the front door and the art supplies strewn across the kitchen table) seem to flash and beep and glare like a laser light show trying to draw attention to my utter failure as a housekeeper (and probably as a mother, too).

It's not that we live in utter chaos. We actually (usually) meet at least the minimum level of sanitation required to maintain health and sanity and keep Child Protective Services at bay. We certainly don't belong on an episode of hoarders or anything.

But we do live here. I mean really live here, with gusto and zeal. We LIVE here. We build blanket forts and play board games and conduct science experiments on the kitchen counters (and sometimes in the fridge when leftovers get pushed to the back and forgotten about, but those aren't generally on purpose). We read books and play fetch with the dogs and make kitchen messes (also known as culinary creativity). We have conversations and do research and take naps. We make noise and get distracted. We bounce down stairs and sometimes the children literally climb the walls.

I clean. I swear that I clean. Usually quite vigorously, especially in preparation for holidays that require visits from extended family and dinners with tablecloths and fine china (I have some that I bought on clearance at Target a few years ago... china not extended family members). But the messes in this house are like some sort of perpetual motion machine. No matter how much I scrub or tidy or vacuum, it's never going to stay that way. New messes are always in various stages of being created. It's part of life, this continuous march toward entropy.

Maybe I did forget to cart the recycling to the curb last week because I was too busy helping my teenaged daughter with homework and now we look like a family with a drinking problem (I'm sure the neighbors are even now staging an intervention). Maybe I haven't recently dusted or mopped because I haven't had the time between eating dinner as a family, running my kids to karate and night classes, teaching my younger ones American History, and settling down in the evenings to catch my breath. Maybe we've been engaged in too much silliness and laughter and discourse and creativity and fun to notice the layer of dust collecting on the shelves and the mantels.

I'm done apologizing. My home isn't some trumped up model house in some fancy interior designer's magazine. (I secretly suspect that those magazines are really just trying to set a standard for housekeeping that is totally unrealistic and unattainable if people are actually residing in the domicile. It's probably part of some grand conspiracy to make us feel self-conscious and insecure and therefore spend more money on cleaning products and cheesy mass-produced artwork and interior designer magazines. Break the cycle!) We don't exist in a perfect world where children's hands are always clean and socks always have matches and dogs don't shed. That perfect world doesn't exist, and I wouldn't want to live in it anyway.

So I'm done apologizing. I'm done with the guilt. I'm throwing out all of my Better Homes & Gardens magazines. We live here. What you're seeing aren't careless messes. What you see are the footprints of our lives (and the fingerprints, too. The children like to leave those on the walls). I wouldn't trade my refrigerator artwork or the pile of kid's shoes or my dog hair-covered furniture for all of the polished floors and sanitized home decor in the world.

So if you come over, you can scoff and cringe and secretly judge me if you want to. Or you can sit back with me and enjoy the beautiful view. This is home. My home...where the dust buffalo roam...


Anonymous said...

"Oh give me a home, where the dust buff'lo roam..."


Anonymous said...

"And the dogs and the children do play..."


Mathilda Rosenberg said...

How messy IS your house?

Unknown said...

Hi, I'm new here. I read your post "It's not messy, we just live here".
I really loved it!! It sooo describes my house too! Exept for the dust bisons. In my head bisons look like a pastoral nature picture, in my house they look more like dust monsters.
I read "5 Things youd didn't know..." It's wanderful too. Being the mom of two ADHD kids, now teenagers, school has being for all the family, a contiguous and painfull nightmare.

ajoneswebb said...

I'm glad you found your way here. I get the dust monster analogy. I think of them as roaming dust buffalo because sometimes they just seem to billow across the hallway or the living room floor.