I actually really hate messes. But I’m not a neat freak.I actually know people whose houses truly are virtually spotless all the time–really. I’ve dropped in on them unannounced. I’ve sat with them as they recovered from major surgery. I would have done dishes to help them out, or vacuumed, or done laundry, but I couldn’t, because it was already done. These people have magical powers, and I really, really do wish that I could have a little of that fairy dust sprinkled on me, even if I would want to clean it up right away.
If I ever have major surgery, they will have plenty to help me with, I’m sorry to say. But neatness is important to me.
For that reason, I am not an awesome mom in many ways. We don’t paint unless we’re painting a whole room. I’m very hesitant in the chalk department. We don’t cook together much. Doing dishes with kids does tend to result in sloshed water. My sister tells me that play dough is actually fun if you use more than one color, but I say you can’t get them back in the right container ever again. Not completely. It’s irksome. Sure, it’s fun the first time, but what then? So my kids have a less than stellar play dough experience.
I have a specific date in mind for Christmas decorating this year, and I have a firm goal that the house will be totally clean before we do it. Then, and only then, let the festivities begin! And it’s going to be great this year! We will bake, we will craft, we will sing, we will wrap! But only after the house is completely clean first! We can’t enjoy it otherwise. Right?
Just now, the earth shaking thought came over me–what if the house doesn’t have to be completely clean first? Would I want to sacrifice everything else to that one goal that never quite seems to be attained? Could we, possibly, maybe, still have fun baking cookies together with that pile of mismatched socks in the living room? Would we still benefit from and enjoy studying Christmas in other cultures if the sun porch only has a narrow path cutting through the clutter? What if I have to chose? What should I put first?
I guess this isn’t a terribly original thought. I’m pretty sure I’ve read about a billion blog posts on prioritizing, and not putting a spotless house first. I know I’ve read time and again things like, “Your kids will remember the time you spent baking cookies with them and not the pile of socks in the living room”, and I can tell you why I’m different: I grew up in a house with plenty of sock piles and other piles, and I DO remember, and it DID bother me as a kid, and it DOES effect me now. Um. Obviously, I guess. We have a close family and have always had lots of good times…but that didn’t negate the condition of the house.
But on the other hand, I’m tired of saying, “Someday when Mommy gets her act together, we’ll have some really great times.” Or thinking, “The only way I can keep this house in liveable condition is if we absolutely do not do anything that might make a mess.”
I’m not giving up on cleanliness, not entirely. I’ll keep cleaning until that appointed date, I’ll try to leave only picturesque piles of flour when we paint and glitter when we craft. But maybe, just maybe, I’ll give up on perfection and see how awesome just living might be.
What do you think? Do your have magical powers of cleanliness? How do you balance messy fun and housekeeping? If you do, please tell me how!