Face it, when you have kids and grandkids, the idea of a clean home may be nothing short of an unattainable dream. It would be great if our homes really looked like the ones on television. Those people always had tons of children running around, too, but their homes were always spotless. Now granted, one had a live-in maid, one had a husband that washed the dishes in an apron, and one even wiggled her nose to get her house to look beautiful.
Whenever I’d do a weekend cleaning from top to bottom (and believe it or not that really did happen on occasion), I would tell friends and family if they wanted to see the house clean, they would need to come for a “proof viewing,” no earlier than 11 a.m. on Saturday morning and no later than 9 p.m. on Sunday night. I was not responsible for the state of my home any time outside of those hours.
Whenever I watched reality shows of police bursting into criminals’ homes unannounced, all I could think about was how horrified I would be — not so much because a cop just busted down my door or that I may be facing jail time, but the fact that a television camera was filming my dirty house for the entire world to see!
When I went back to work full time and my children were all still young, I considered asking a woman to come in and help me out one day a week just to keep on top of the work, but I was too embarrassed. I would have to hire a maid before I’d let a cleaning woman see this mess!
Whenever I had more than one small child running around at a time, I would usually wait until they took their naps to attempt a cleanup of the toys. After cleaning up millions of Legos, there was always that one toy that made just enough noise to wake the slumbering children.
They would sit up, look around and observe the clean room. One by one, they’d get up and make a bee line for the toy box. A clean room to a child is like a clean litter box to a cat. It somehow jumpstarts the auto-mess in their brains and they’re compelled to make a shambles of your just-cleaned masterpiece.
It took years for me to realize that, according to a child, toys do not belong in the toy box. (That goes for plastics in the cupboard and folded clothes in the laundry basket, too).
Now that the kids are older and have children of their own, they see what a chore it is to try and keep up with the housework. All the years of me trying to keep up on something that was literally impossible, I can say with a good conscience that I gave it my best shot. I just couldn’t do it and it only got worse when my kids got older. I think teenagers are sometimes worse to clean up after than toddlers.
I will admit I don’t go without blame here. My room and car are always a total mess. It’s sort of a rite of passage for a creative mind and, well, at least it’s MY mess. If everyone were responsible for their own messes, I guess I wouldn’t have such a problem with it. That could be why a lot of us women watch so much television. We want to escape the reality of our own messy abodes so we fantasize about the spotless homes of the movie stars.
On the other hand, maybe my house would be spotless if I got myself off the couch and actually DID something.
— Mari’ Emeraude
Mari’ Emeraude is a poet and humorist from Denver. This piece is excerped from her book, Even God Hates Spinach.