“Your house is so clean!” visitors often tell me.
They’re not wrong. When company is on the calendar, the cleaning gloves come ON. I’ll corral the random crap. I’ll vacuum and dust. I’ll scour the downstairs bathroom and clean the kitchen. I won’t do these things because I have to; I’ll do them because I want to out of respect for our guest and our home.
I want visitors to be able to walk inside our front door without having to watch their step. I want them to feel free to relax on a toy-free couch or use the bathroom without getting grossed out. Our guests won’t ask for these simple accommodations. They’d never demand or even expect them, but I’ll always take the time to clean for company.
“I hope you didn’t clean for me!” guests will sometimes say, but the truth is, my house needed the scrubbing. Like most busy parents, I squeak by when it comes to cleaning my castle. My kids vacuum once a week. I try to wipe up the kitchen daily. We tackle bathrooms when we absolutely have to. So if you ask me if my house is always this clean, I’ll tell you, “Of course not — I have two boys!”
I know all about muddy footprints, grape juice on couches, and persistent locker room odors. I possess intimate knowledge of pee behind the toilet, Dorito dust, and the occasional forgotten glass of milk. But I happen to believe that our dirt is our business. Besides, our visitors have enough dirt of their own without having to deal with ours.
Now, I know what you’re going to say: real friends don’t care about your messes.
I wholeheartedly agree. I’d sincerely hope whoever enters here possesses the ability to overlook a stinky kitchen trashcan or crumbs on their elbows. I know I can. But when it comes to entertaining on my home turf, I simply can’t do it comfortably amidst our daily dirt.
When required to, you can find me apologizing continuously for the condition of my home, shoving junk in drawers whenever you aren’t looking, and secretly hoping you’ve seen worse. It doesn’t matter whether you care. It doesn’t matter whether you’ll gladly “meet me in my mess.” I care, and these personal distractions get in the way of my ability to focus on you.
And while I’m dishing dirt, I feel obligated to mention that a clean house doesn’t make a mother any less “real” or any more superficial. I’m pretty sure I can welcome guests into a clean home and still be as warm and genuine as I’ve ever been. I’m also fairly certain my clean house in no way reflects on you or the present state of yours. And as for this idea that kids’ messes are memories in the making? My kids better “remember” that they live here, too.
If cleaning for company is wrong, my otherwise messy house doesn’t want to be right.More On