When I was single, my house was clean.
When I got married and it was just my husband, me, and our dog, my house was clean. I could clean my house once every two weeks and for the entire two weeks it stayed clean. I didn’t have to dust in between. I didn’t have to vacuum. It stayed clean. I left for work and came back home and guess what? Still clean.
Then, I had my first child. And it still stayed clean.
When that child was two years old, yes his toys would take over the house but . . . it was still clean. I would have to wipe up milk and crumbs daily, but it was doable. It was sustainable. It didn’t undo all the work I had done two weeks prior in thoroughly cleaning the house.
But, then I had my second child. And maintaining the cleaning became harder. The cleaning became more and more frequent. I’m talking multiple times a day. And I just got tired. Tired . . . tired . . . tired.
I used to clean and be able to sit back for two weeks and enjoy the clean. Now, I get to sit back for two minutes.
The mess is never-ending. Never. Ending. Hand prints on windows. Spills and crumbs on floors, carpets, and tables. Water in teapots sprinkled all around the room. Dirt on the bathroom counter from a child trying to wash his hands. Towels on the bathroom floor from a child trying to dry his hands. Handprints and footprints on the kitchen counters from children climbing up for snacks. Handprints on oven and refrigerator doors. Empty snack bags and bowls and cups strewn around the house. Pee around and all over the toilet.
Now, we’ve all read the memes that tell us that one day we will miss the dirty handprints and all the mess. I’m sure this is true. But not now. It is not true for me now.
I look back longingly to the days when I cleaned and everything stayed clean. I love a clean house. Love it. But it is not healthy, at this season of my life, for me to have a clean house. Not the kind of clean that I want. Not the kind that I used to have. Why? Because when my floors have just been cleaned, inevitably a child will come inside from playing in the sandbox or playing with sidewalk chalk and leave trackable footprints in his wake. When my windows have just been polished, a child will come along and discover a cardinal perched outside the window and will have to try to lick it through the glass. As soon as the kitchen is spotless and every dish is put away and every surface is wiped clean, a child will come along and want to eat a muffin. A crumbling muffin that will not behave itself even if it is placed inside a bowl. And when you give a child a muffin, he will want a glass of milk. He will try to pour it himself and there will be another mess. And I will turn into a Momster. A MOMSTER!!!
I will stalk the freshly-cleaned areas barking orders to “stay off that” and “get away from there.” And, God forbid someone makes a mess, my head will spin and I will say things like, “What are you doing?” but not in a nice or kind way more like this, “Whaaaat are youuu doooiinngg!!!!” They will try to explain things but I will have zero compassion because they have just “ruined everything I just did.” (Yes, I will say that.) There will be sad little faces and I won’t like myself very much. So, for the sake of my kids wellbeing and my own personal sanity, I will hold the reality of cleanliness very loosely and my kids’ hearts very tightly.
Originally published at losethecape.com