This is my new attitude toward life… or at least my house.
“Cleaning your house when you have kids is like brushing your teeth while eating Oreos”
When I was growing up, we weren’t allowed to have friends over unless the house was clean. Anytime I felt the need for companionship I would ask my mom and her reply was always, “Is the house clean?” No, mom… but I’ll clean it. By nature, I am already OCD and a control freak so add this to it and you create a compulsion to clean ALL the time. In college, a friend of mine actually got mad at me for saying my house wasn’t clean when she thought it was. She thought I was fishing for compliments… little did she know I was suffering from an illness. I didn’t think people could visit unless the house was spotless.
This compulsion carried over into my adult life. My mom was so worried before I had children how I would handle having little ones around, always messing up my house. If she were visiting while I was cleaning under beds, baseboards or ceilings… she would shake her head and say that she hoped I would be OK when children came along and changed all of that.
Change it did.
At first, when it was just Carpenter, it wasn’t that bad. Things were manageable. He is a typical first child. He likes order, to the extent any 5-year-old likes order, but he does try sometimes to keep things straight. He still has every toy he has ever received and all the pieces that came with it. He is his mother’s son. Brooks, on the other hand, has been nicknamed the DESTRUCTOR… put Carpenter and him together and you get the perfect storm.
Some days, MOST DAYS, I feel like this:
Because of their destruction, I have started selling things off piece by piece. Soon there will be nothing left. First to go was the coffee table. Our coffee table only served as a landing pad and jumping off point for our boys. Stitches will make you reevaluate the need for such a worthless piece of furniture fast. I have also sold a complete room worth of damaged and abused furniture.
The bathroom came next. It is now down to bare bones, basically empty. After Brooks flushed a fist-sized toy down the toilet, causing the toilet to overflow and ruin the rug, I started getting rid of things in there. First the rug, then a beautiful, custom made shower curtain that one of the boys decorated with a black sharpie. Next, the towels that always seem to be mis-shaped and dirty on the towel bar. Yes, I know that people will think we are poor if they visit our house and have to go to the bathroom. I know that they will wonder why there in no shower curtain, rug, or decorations. They may also wonder why there isn’t any toilet paper… that would probably be because Carpenter likes to flush entire rolls of toilet paper so he can use the cardboard to make spy glasses (thanks, mom!). I really don’t care anymore. PLUS, I don’t think we will ever have visitors because my house isn’t ever clean and my mom says you can’t come over!!
It’s funny. My walls, because of the boys, have holes in them (long story), paint knocked off of them, and they are scuffed and dirty. My carpets are stained so badly you could play hopscotch on them… just jump from stain to stain. We even bought a $300 carpet cleaner to try to keep up with the boys, but we used it so much it broke. My couch…well, we won’t talk too much about that. For some reason, my children think it is a napkin to wipe their hands and their face. Up until now it has been a never-ending battle, but they have finally won. I am waving the dirty white flag.
Don’t think too badly of me. It isn’t like I didn’t try. I have cleaned and cleaned. I have walked behind them with a scrub brush in my hand and I have spent hours on my knees scrubbing floors and walls. I have fussed and fussed… but my little boys want to have fun and they just don’t understand what the BIG deal is about a mess.
So, I decided…
“Instead of cleaning house, I’ll just turn off the lights.”
I have decided that the sound of my boy’s laughter, as they romp and roll around, is worth more to me than the havoc it creates. I have decided that hearing things crash and fall to the floor is worth hearing the boys whisper and yell, IT’S OK, mom! I have decided that letting them play in the rain and the puddles is worth more than the mud they track in. I have decided that them playing in the tub with all the BIG BUBBLES is worth having to clean up the water they splash out. I have decided that the look in Brooks’ eyes when he gets to play with our puppy INSIDE is worth more than cleaning up what the puppy chews up. I have decided that I want my boys to remember the fun, the laughter, and the happiness more than I want a clean house.
It hasn’t been easy to let go of my need for order, but I am trying. One day, the walls of this old house might just crumble down around us, but if they do, we will rebuild them and destroy them all over again… enjoying every minute.