Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A visit from the Green-Eyed Monster

Did you ever walk into someone’s house and instantly feel that yours is somehow inadequate? That their house is so clean and tidy that surely no one lives there? Sure they call it home, but do they really “live” here? This happened to me yesterday and I feel ashamed to admit that for the first time in years, I felt a little jealous.

I know my son and youngest daughter came away with the same feelings that day, but for a very different reason; we had gone to visit our neighbors’ brand new puppy. While everyone else was gushing over this tiny, 4 week old, sleeping ball of fur, I was trying to be as discreet as possible while marveling at a home that looked staged - and for the most part unoccupied. Sure there was furniture, a tv and a computer, but they looked as though they might have been cut from a catalog. I was amazed. Here we showed up completely unannounced on a random weekend afternoon, summoned by their two young kids to meet the newest member of their family, and it was as if they had just spent the day scrubbing every surface in anticipation of company. Even their laundry room was spotless! Not an article of unwashed clothing to be seen – at least not by my quick glance as I passed by the open doorway. If you were to stop in to my house on a similar occasion you would come across any number of stray dishes cluttering up the table or counter tops, shoes kicked off and abandoned in all corners of every room and you needn’t go looking for dirty laundry – it would find you.

Its not that I don’t clean my house of course, in fact I spend much of my day tidying, folding, sweeping and washing. But on a weekend you’re more likely to find me hanging out, having fun with the kids and catching up on the week’s events with my husband. I once had a neighbor tell me, “Michelle, I have never seen anyone mop their floor as often as you do.” Its true, I am pretty particular with the cleanliness of my floors - counter tops, kitchen table and living room furniture too. I am not, however, a neat freak. Clutter doesn’t bother me – I consider it a fact of life in our busy house. Until of course I walk into a house such as the one three doors up from mine.

Sometimes I like to think that when the kids get older and there isn’t as much “stuff” around, it will be easier to keep a “nice home”. But then I remember that if their stuff isn’t around, then neither are they. A poem that I was given years ago comes to mind:

“Cleaning and scrubbing can wait til tomorrow
For babies grow up, we’ve learned to our sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs, dust go to sleep
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.”

I am well past the baby rocking stage, but the fact remains that I would rather spend the precious time I have with my children while they’re young than to be constantly cleaning up all their small messes. I will just have to repeat this poem the next time I stop by my neighbor’s house and be thankful that the kids want to spend time with me.

And besides, with a new puppy in the house, surely it won’t be staying so spic and span for long!


SwedishJenn said...

I feel you here Michelle. When my mother-in-law comes to stay, my house looks just like your neighbour's. When she leaves, it's back to untidy. Clean, but untidy. And I ALWAYS manage to get people stopping by unexpectedly when it's at its worst. urghhhh. I read something by, shoot..what's her name...urghhh..in the same vein as your poem. Gotta remember these life lessons cuz you're right. But when I look at people with 3 kids, I often wonder what my excuse is..ha!

Melanie said...

So true Michelle!
My Mom used to have a magnet on her fridge while we were growing up that said:

Cleaning the house
While the kids are growing
Is like shoveling snow
While it's still snowing.

She brought it up to me the other day and hung it on my fridge, because I am always complaining how much mess the kids make, and how everytime I turn around, there is something else to clean.
It actually made me cry a little when she gave it to me, because I used to read it all the time when I was young, and laugh. But it is really so true.
It taught me that my house doesn't have to look like a picture out of a magazine, it's the happiness and memories inside that matter. :o)
The new paint job looks awesome too!!

Tammy said...

I'm with you, my house is never clean--even when it "looks" clean, it's because I knew someone was coming and piled all the stuff in one room and closed the door!! I wonder how much time family time there is when someone's home is spotless... I have days when I'd meet someone at the door and refuse to let them in if they showed up unannounced :) (actually many days lately) It speaks to priorities and core values. I'd much rather be playing with my little man than cleaning any day...