Welcome to Our House of Filth

Last week I walked into our guest bathroom and found this on our cabinet:

IMG_20130410_213640_777

Let me just say it’s never a good thing to find creamy dark brown fingerprints on a bathroom cabinet in a home where young children toilet. Never.

So, I was this close to yelling, “Who the hell got poop on our cabinets!?” before I remembered that my 4-year-old son had eaten Nutella earlier that morning. You know what? I didn’t clean up those prints for three whole days. Satisfied it wasn’t fecal matter, I guess I just sort of let it slip my mind.

Not counting my life between the ages of 12 and 22, I think my standard of clean hit rock bottom sometime around my first child’s third birthday. That’s the year she got up in a sleepwalking stupor and actually shat in the corner of her carpeted bedroom while sick with a stomach bug. That’s the year her friend carved her name with a preschool shiv (the business end of a broken tea-set spoon) into our dining room table. That’s the year she dragged a crayon across our wall, up one story and around the hallway. There was plenty more. Do you think I gave a hoot those days about those stalactites of goo that build up on the hand soap dispenser over time? Barely. Just like I barely noticed crumbs, fingerprints on our stainless steel fridge, and the fact that we hadn’t built so much as a step from our sliding glass door to the ground two feet below it.

I’ve improved since then, but I’ve got a long way to go. (Obviously, since I left brown Nutella fingerprints on my guest bathroom cabinets for three days.) Sorry, but some days, just getting a clear view of the carpet feels like I won the interstate lottery.

When there are actual gross messes to clean up, it’s hard not to get housekeeping myopia. At least for me, having little kids has made it challenging to see my house the way it probably looks to other people. When the laundry’s folded, the dinner dishes are washed, and the kitchen counter is wiped down, I feel pretty great.

Post-partum housekeeping myopia has its limit. When I know someone outside my immediate family is going to be at the house, suddenly I wake from my hypnotic idiocy and realize that, oh my god, we’re complete freaking pigs. It’s only then that I see my house the way I think an outsider would, poopy-looking fingerprints and all:

How I see my living room on a night when I’ve cleaned my heart out and no guests are imminent

Look closer. There is a used Band-Aid on a Wal-Mart toy on the floor in this scene. This is what I see when guests are coming. I am a pig.

Look closer. There is a used Band-Aid on a Wal-Mart toy on the floor in this scene. This is what I see when guests are coming. I am a pig.

My "clean house" tonight. Just one pair of used undies on the bathroom floor. Yay! Let's eat in here!

My “clean house” tonight. Just one pair of used undies on the bathroom floor. Yay! Let’s eat in here!

Also from tonight's "clean house." I was feeling all proud that I made my son pick up his mile-long strip of wasted toilet paper and fold it onto the back of the toilet. Didn't realize until taking pics for this blog that there was a TURD in that toilet. Yay, clean!

Also from tonight’s “clean house.” I was feeling all proud that I made my son pick up his mile-long strip of wasted toilet paper and fold it onto the back of the toilet. Didn’t realize until taking pics for this blog that there was an unflushed TURD in that toilet. Hurrah for our clean house!

My piece de resistance, even on a "clean house" night like tonight

My piece de resistance, even on a “clean house” night like tonight, the dirty little secret called the “laundry room”

Did you just say, "Oh, that's not that bad"? Are you insane? Look closer.

Did you just say, “Oh, that’s not that bad”? Are you insane? Look closer. Hand to Heaven, those are our CLEAN clothes.

Secret mommy weapon: closing the door. Bam!

Secret mommy weapon: closing the laundry room door. Bam! Clean house!

I seriously wonder if I’m in good company on this one. Why? Because housekeeping has never been my special skill. I have no middle ground. I’ve always had trouble finding the shades of gray between spring cleaned and pigpen. My nickname as a kid was honestly “Pigpen.” How long would it have taken you to wipe the Nutella off the cabinets? Please say a week. For the love of God, please say a week.

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22 Responses to Welcome to Our House of Filth

  1. Kim Ralston says:

    I know exactly what you mean. I never really clean til I know I have people coming over. I can totally relate to this.

    • I do it for guests but I also when I feel completely anxious and boxed-in. I never really relax when the house isn’t clean. Which is to say that I pretty much never really relax.

  2. AZAnjanette says:

    I finally figured it out. People who have clean homes have no personal belongings. period. Which makes me a perfect candidate for the show hoarders….says my 16 year old….

    • As long as you don’t graduate to Extreme Hoarders, you’re good in my book. I do honestly wonder sometimes at one of my friend’s homes where on earth she hides her secret piles and messes. She HAS to have them, doesn’t she?

  3. Amy says:

    Oh I’ll say a week. I am a TERRIBLE housekeeper. I’ve made peace with it, meaning I’m not changing. Great post 🙂

    • I was a complete slob growing up. My parents honestly found a bowl of dried-up sugar cookie dough in my dresser drawer when we were moving out of the house after I graduated from high school. I have no idea how long it was in there, maybe a year? It was like cement. So, I was sloppy enough that a full bowl of dough could get lost in my messes! This lasted all the way into college, and then after I got married, I had a nice little run of pretty decent housekeeping — not great — but it all went to pot when the kids were born. I do have to say I’m still a lot better than my cookie dough days. 🙂

  4. lablover22 says:

    The Nutella would’ve been gone ASAP. Wanna know why? Because I would have called the dog in, and pointed at it incessantly until he caught on and licked it off. That’s a housekeeping low point. Or just shades of brilliance. It’s a fine line. You have the laundry room, I have the pantry. Unfortunately, the washer and dryer are in the pantry so my kids must climb over the laundry baskets and piles of clean/dirty/I-can’t-remember-because-they’ve-been-sittin-here-for-3-days just to reach the freaking fishy crackers. Hey, we’re all doing the best we can and when company’s coming over we do just a bit more to give the illusion we’ve totally got it together.
    I won’t tell if you won’t.
    Vicky
    http://www.thepursuitofnormal.blogspot.com

    • I gotta get a dog. You’re the second person who told me the dog would have had your back on this one. That laundry pile in the picture is ALWAYS there, with new piles arriving within 24 hours of me folding it. My husband likes to put loads of laundry in the wash, but that’s usually where he stops, so maybe I’m being a bit passive aggressive by letting that heap pile up. It’s my way of saying, you can start the process, but you can’t make me finish it, not until I’M ready. 🙂

  5. Totally four days. And I only have ONE kid. Right now I have an ant invasion in the kitchen, and even though we’re terro baiting them, my husband occasionally gets fed up and sprays them with my homemade cleaning mix (mostly blue dawn and vinegar and water) but leaves the trails of ant corpses. So now there are live bait-retrieving ants mingled with dead ones on every countertop in the kitchen, and I think this is a good reason for me not to immediately empty the dishwasher and have to lean over it all.

  6. Angela moustafa says:

    Me? Hmm, immediately but only because on of my son’s is severely allergic to nuts and dairy. Had it been his safe spread however, probably a while…. Also, I don’t have a laundry room so my laundry room is my kitchen and living room combined. I currently have a rather large mound of clothes in the corner and more on the top of the dryer

    • Well, I applaud you for not having the laundry on your kitchen counter, which is where I’d probably leave it if my laundry room involved my kitchen and living room. The laundry is what gets us all eventually. It’s like a fungus.

  7. Lynn says:

    I will take pictures of my house and send them to you tomorrow. You will feel much better then. A few years ago my dog had a growth on her face and she used to wipe her face along the walls. I am going to admit this to you now because I love you. I left a big smear of dog blood on my wall for over a month.
    Seriously, pictures tomorrow, buy a bottle of wine to celebrate your cleanliness once you see them.

  8. meg68 says:

    I really enjoyed this post, your honesty is to be applauded. I probably would have cleaned up with the cloth I keep under the sink, but then I would’ve just chucked the cloth back in under there straight away without rinsing it. Can I join the filthy club too?

    • Oh, my gosh. You just reminded me that I still have not removed from my car a wet hand towel that I used in a bind last WEEK to clean up my son’s nosebleed. I’d swung by our house to use the bathroom en route to pick up his sister from school, and when I came out, both of his palms and his face from the eyeballs down were completely covered in blood. And it was going to make us late for school pickup, so I ran in the house, moistened the hand towel, hastily cleaned him up, shoved a little toilet paper plug up his nostril, and left in a hurry — hand towel on the floor of the passenger side. Your comment about the cloth under the sink reminded me it is STILL there. I am truly gross. And yes, I’m afraid you CAN join the filthy club, too. 🙂

  9. I straighten a lot of crap, but dusting, vacuuming, cleaning windows, etc. never get done. That is until my mother is coming into town. Then, I’m a mad woman. I’ve perfected the art of just keeping the front two rooms clean in case there are drop by visitors.

    • My mom lives in town, and I remember she used to wash the light switch plates sometimes when she was helping tidy up during my daughter’s baby days. And to this day, when I know she’s dropping by, I think about how she might secretly be thinking my light switch plates need a good scrub.

  10. Pamper says:

    Sadly, the opposite. The site of nutella alone would be wiped up tout de suite. If, heaven forbid, there is additional mess in the house, it might just reach the critical mass of frustration for me. I would sweat and my heart would race at the sight of mute la on the counter. I’d go into fight or flight mode. Usually fight. Stay away from me on those days. It’s not pretty.

    • Pamper says:

      I meant *nutella. Not mute la.

      • Mute la is delicious, Pam. So, are you telling me you keep a clean house!? We have to talk. You’re making the likes of me look bad. 😉

      • pamper says:

        Oh no! You shouldn’t feel bad at all. I wish I could loosen up a little about it. When things are out of place, I feel in turmoil. So I am constantly cleaning detritis because I am trying to control the chaos around me. I believe it’s called OCD and I don’t think anyone in my house truly appreciates it. 🙂 Interestingly, a mess in someone else’s house does not bother me in the slightest. I think if I had a full-time cleaning person I would live a much calmer existence. It’s the knowing that I am responsible for cleaning it all that drives me to the edge.

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