One of the biggest lies I used to tell was “I’m so sorry I haven’t had a chance to pick up before you came over,” because, in fact I had spent the previous three hours scrubbing every inch of my house. And for a while it didn’t matter who it was coming over – from a best friend, to the CO’s wife, to my parents, the house was attacked and organized. Having a party meant at least three days of cleaning every inch and corner and surface of my house. It meant making the house look as though no one lived there. Or it was secretly an IKEA showroom. Now don’t get me wrong, my house was never a disaster to start with; while I may be a little lax, my husband has always appreciated a super clean home and since I wasn’t working, it made sense that I was in charge of keeping it organized and fairly mess free. And having dogs meant a lot of dirt tracked in and a lot of hair accumulating in furry corners no matter how many times you vacuum. And then one day a good friend said she was in the area and I invited her over. Suddenly I realized I hadn’t done a full clean and was thrown into an initial panic. What would she think of me with my four dust bunnies and used towel hanging (gasp) on the shower rod instead of being hidden in the washing machine as though I was just naturally self-cleaning!? And then a weird, freeing thought overcame me, “she literally won’t care.” And you know what, she didn’t!
I feel this is an issue that many moms especially, struggle with when they have people come over. Somewhere along the lines, society told us that if someone enters your home it must look as though you don’t actually live there on a daily basis. Your children have toys? And you let them use them? *horrified shudder.* Oddly, I don’t like the just fell out of home and gardens look. I want to know I am entering a home of love and life and laughter. Otherwise I feel very uncomfortable and on edge and like I don’t want to touch anything, not even the couch.
Now, I’m not advocating the opposite obviously, it is healthy to live in a clean home, especially with children and animals. And I have seen homes where the parents let the children just run wild, breaking items, drawing on walls, etc; which is more a matter of lack of discipline than cleanliness. And for military spouses, we are usually renting the homes we live in and some landlords, or companies if you are in base housing, are extremely unforgiving about damages. One company would charge you to have an entire house recarpeted if there was a stain anywhere. That can be a huge amount to have to pay while moving, which is already an insanely expensive time. So I’m not saying don’t clean your house ever, I’m just saying not to let it stress you out if your house doesn’t look IKEA perfect.
I think we all need to give ourselves a break and accept that life happens in our homes. We break hot sauce bottles that explode and stain the ceiling. We have toddlers who lose interest in a toy or game faster than I can sneeze and will have thirty different toys out in an hour. We have dogs that shed. Kids that spill. We have lives. And it is ok if your home reflects that. After all, it is your own personal corner of the sky.