It's not dirty, it's just "lived in"

House cleaning is not the bane of my existence. It is my existence. Quite simply, it's what I do.  I have difficulty understanding how some moms have spotless houses and still maintain employment outside the home. I assume it's because there is no one in the house all day to mess it up.  But at this house, I am home, Hubbie works from home, the little man is certainly always at home, and the girls are here when not in lessons or school.  That's five-- with no daycare, no nanny, no maid. 

My house is constantly being cleaned, yet it is never clean. I will finish one room, walk into another, work in there, return to the first room and think, "Woah, didn't I just do this?"  I have an aunt who once said, "Why bother?"  
Well, I bother because it's my job-- The job I chose and the job I like to do. I just wish that when it was done, it would stay done.  For a day, at least. 

My girls have to clean their room every Saturday. Every single Saturday, unless there are plans, in which case they do it on Sunday.   This is, and has been, the rule... since ever, like always.

Every Saturday, they are surprised.  You want us to do what? Really???  But Moooooom, do we have to?  This leads to:

"It's her mess, not mine," and 
"I want my own room."     

Still, despite the procrastination, the arguments, the accusations, the frustration, and the surprise, they manage to get it done. They earn an allowance for the few chores they are assigned, and most weeks it goes into the bank. So, by Saturday afternoon the girl's room is clean.

By Sunday afternoon, the girl's room is messy.

At the party last week, one little friend; one whom I adore, not only because she is sweet, but because she is a bit outspoken like me and definitely not-afraid to put-it-out-there; this one little girl says, "I never wanted to say it at your house, because I didn't want to embarrass you, but their room is messy." 

Thank you, dear child, for not embarrassing me at my house-- saying it in front of twenty other people is certainly the kinder, gentler way to let me know that I have trouble keeping up with my kid's messes. 

But I am not embarrassed. The great thing about being a mom is that:

    There is always someone to blame 

Late? I'm so sorry, I couldn't get out on time because of the kids.
Forgot to do something? I apologize, there is so much going on with the kids.
Not return a phone call? Really, I meant to, but the kids had homework.
Dirty Dishes? It's the kids.
Floors need sweeping when someone stops in? Don't mind the mess... it's the kids you know... and the dogs. 

It's not me. I know that it's not me.

I gripe to Steve that while I love my job, and I live 100% of everyday to take care of my family, there is a fine line between taking care of them and being the servant. I don't mind cleaning-- I do mind picking up 10 pair of shoes out of eight rooms, none of which are in a closet where they belong.  I don't mind doing dishes, but I do mind picking them up out of the toy room (see my post here: my magic sink).  I don't mind cleaning up toys, but I want to clean them up from the toy room floor, not the living room couch. And, don't get me started on where they deposit laundry (on the floor, any floor). 

But Steve puts it in perspective. He reminds me that I leave coffee cups everywhere. It's true, I set them down nearby wherever I am in the house, move away from them, forget where they are; and pour another cup.  This is why I have about 30 mugs in my cupboard-- well, 2 mugs in the cupboard, 20 in the dishwasher and at least 6 around the house. 

But it is my only fault.  Other than this one idiosyncrasy, I am very organized.  If you ask me where something is, I can tell you in seconds flat. 

Which brings me to:

There is a place for everything and everything in it's place

I think this is what drives me up the wall the most. Not the messes, I can manage that okay. It's the not-putting-it-back-where-it-came-from phenomenon that pervades my daily life. 

When I want my black sharpie, I go to my pen cup. When I want the tweezers, I open the bathroom closet and look on the back of the shelf in their little holder. When I want the butter, I look in the drawer with all the dairy foods. That's where I left it, that's where it belongs, that is it's place. 

But these things are never there. 
Because some little someone used it/took it/ borrowed it/lost it and now because 

 There is always someone to blame

It is usually impossible to find the culprit... I need all my time to find the item.  And that brings me back to this: 

"It's her mess, not mine," and "I want my own room."

I want my own room too. Heck, I'd settle for one tiny space--  maybe just having my desk hands-off to all comers. I tried labeling things. I wrote, "Mom's" on my biggest, best, new scissors.

Tonight, Hubbie borrowed the scissors. He, unlike the children, did not abscond with them leaving me to wonder where or who took them. He's too smart, too funny, and he knows me too well.  No, he took the scissors, said, 

"I'm taking these scissors."
"Okay, but put them back." 
"I don't know, I think I'm going to cross out 'Mom's' and write 'Dad's'."

That was hours ago-- and the scissors are not back.  I know because I had to cut open a package and I had to do it with kids blunt craft scissors.  What package you ask?

A new thermometer.  I had to check Alex's temp and found the baby ear thermometer in the girl's room- not working.  Of course, its home is in the bathroom closet; but that's the whole point of this post.  

"Which of you took the thermometer?" 
"No, Sophia!"

Maybe sometimes there isn't anyone else to blame. Maybe sometimes it is what it is, a scrambled family with too much going on and too much stuff to keep track of.  Either way, I think I need to buy new scissors. 

I like things organized. I don't get to have that right now. Maybe when my kids are grown and out of the house, I will find a way to have it my way. Meanwhile, I struggle along the best I can. Maybe, if I'm lucky, I will be one of those moms who rewrites the family history.  When my kids say the house got messy, I'll just live in denial. "What? Our house messy? No. I always kept it clean."

It's the cleaning I'll remember, not the clean.  Irma Bombeck once said, "Cleaning your house while kids still live in it is like shoveling the walk while it's still snowing."

Well, it's snowing here everyday and try as I might, I can't find the darned shovel.  It's not where I left it, and I forgot to label it "Mom's".  

If this sounds like your house, then you can probably relate to this to: Too busy to eat?

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  1. We are living in parallel universes, I think. Often I find myself devoting an entire day to spic-and-span-edness only to have it all undone in a matter of minutes. Slightly discouraging, but I have started to delegate to my four, the girls are in charge of their rooms, their bathroom and dishes on alternating days. The boys, their toys. It takes some of the load off and reminds them that keeping things tidy is a lot like work.

    There IS always someone else to blame.

  2. It's funny, I've lost count of the amount of times, whilst on a cleaning marathon, that I've looked at all the stray items that I've gathered together for re-homing in their 'place' and thought "Wow, not a single one of these 5 trillion items actually belongs to me!".

    As for the leaving dirty laundry where it's dropped, I can't blame my daughter for that, but my Husband is the worst culprit in the WORLD. We have a tiny, tiny bathroom, and if I had a pound for every time I've tried to open the door, and walked into it instead because it's got stuck on the other side on a bunched up pair of his underpants, I'd have enough money to live in a house with a bigger bathroom! It drives me MAD, but nothing seems to make a difference.

  3. I love love love that sign. Danger: Complete disarray within!

    My house isn't a complete disaster lately, but it's also not clean either. Working full time, working part time and having some time for the kids doesn't leave much for house cleaning.

    I may have to print the sign just so I can chuckle about it daily!

  4. You are freakin' hilarious. I'm dealing with the same perpetual clean up... but with 4 kids, 2 dogs, 1 cat, and a husband working 2nd shift! I clean... but I swear, it doesn't look like it! wth?! How hard is it to put things back wher eyou found them? I mean REALLY?!

    And jaynelc... you're killing me. I swear I've have the "Not one of these 5 trillion things was mine!" moments all. the. time.

  5. oh yeah.
    I totally hear you.
    There is ALWAYS someone to blame.
    "But I didn't mess up the room."
    "Why do I have to feed the cats?"
    "How come I always have to clean the litter box?"
    Yeah, excuses are always around here too.
    Enjoyed your post.
    Glad there are more people like me out there.

  6. Hilarious. Totally understand where you're coming from. I LOVE taking care of my family and it is my job to keep things clean and orderly, but I do feel like a servant sometimes! I'll keep cleaning so they can keep messing it up.


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