We like to pretend we have a clean house. In reality, it’s never clean, but we certainly can’t let other people know that. So, whenever we invite friends over, we spend the hour before their arrival frantically hiding our mess.
I say hiding because we’re not really cleaning, it’s more like relocating. Once the dishwasher’s full, dirty dishes go in the oven. Dirty clothes are shoved under beds (the laundry room’s already bursting at the seams). Toys are tossed into the basement game room. Stacks of random papers get stowed in desk drawers on top of last week’s random papers. Basically, we conceal all evidence of our house being anything less than immaculate, even if it involves putting stupid things in even stupider places.
As the hour of arrival approaches, we start feeling the heat. We have 20 minutes of “cleaning” to do and only five minutes to do it. So, we start praying for our guests to be late. And they often are, because they have toddlers too (one of the benefits of having friends with small kids).
Finally, as they pull into our driveway, we yell, “Junior, get the door!” as we chuck the vacuum into the hall closet and throw our weight against the door to close it. Then, we rush downstairs to pleasantly welcome our guests into our “clean” home.
Why Do We Do This?
The answer’s simple: we’d be horrified if other people found out our house is messy. Which is weird, because I’m pretty sure their house is messy too. I’m willing to bet that basically everyone’s house is messy, especially if they have small kids.
So why do we care so much about cleaning our house when the people coming over probably have a messy house too? It’s because they do the same thing for us. Our friends’ houses always look clean when we go over. And because we only see their house when it appears clean, we’ve convinced ourselves that everyone (except for us) has a clean house.
It’s a self-perpetuating problem. Everyone thinks that everyone else’s house is clean, even when it’s not. We’re all caught in our own web of housekeeping lies. It’s a vicious cycle and it needs to end now.
A Modest Proposal
How do we pull ourselves out of this death spiral? Well, for starters, our family will make you an offer. If we are coming over to your house, don’t feel like you need to tidy up. We have kids. We get it. We understand when we see ketchup splattered on the wall and goldfish crackers ground into the carpet. It’s what kids do.
Of course, if you do want to clean up, go for it. I know we sometimes use dinner invites as motivation to do the household chores we’ve been neglecting. If you’re in that same boat, clean away. We won’t stop you. Just know that we don’t expect it.
Coupled with this offer is our promise that our house will never be pristine when you visit. We’ll tidy up a little, but we’ve given up on perfection. There will be toys scattered across the living room and crayons strewn across the coffee table. Chaos may not abound, but it will definitely be present. And we’re okay with that. We hope you are too. More importantly though, when you see our messy house, we hope you’ll feel right at home.