Saturday, January 14, 2006

Confessions of a Failed Housekeeper

I've had the washer and dryer going most of the day, but the verdict's still out... it's possible that the laundry may not be done in time for CARE group tomorrow. If the other moms decide to "tour" my house, they will find out the Truth. Oh well... I always consider it a mark of true friendship when other mothers let me see their laundry piles; I understand their plight. I'm not positive everyone feels the same way, but I've always hoped so.

I used to be a Creative Memories Consultant, and this was when I had three children under the age of 5. (Not too long after, I had four children ages 6 and under... but I digress) I would receive phone calls at 8:30 in the morning (this is painfully early for nursing mothers of small babies!) and a customer would say,

"I am out of photo splits and I need some stickers! I'm on your side of town; can I stop in?"

I would reply, "Sure... when will you be here?"

"Oh, I'm pulling into your driveway now!"


So of course, I would let them in, and they would see me in my houserobe, the kids watching cartoons, cheerios on the floor, sink covered in dishes, toys, books, baby paraphernalia and who-knows-what-else spread across the living room. No one ever said anything about the mess- they would get their stuff, thank me and leave. They kept coming back for future purchases, but I never did get over my Failed Housekeeper Complex. My husband would say, "Can't you just keep the front room picked up, in case of company?" You know, it seemed like a perfectly reasonable request... why was it impossible? I took great comfort from the poem "Song for a Fifth Child" which ends

"Quiet down, cobwebs
Dust, go to sleep.
I'm rocking my baby
And babies don't keep!"

It's true. And now that the kids are older, it's a little easier to keep the house somewhat decent... all five of them are old enough to cram everything under the couch in case company pulls into the driveway!

Unfortunately, this tactic is not always enough. For over a year, we hosted CARE group in our home every Sunday. One week I was sharing my cleaning woes with my friend Stephanie and she advised, "Well, don't worry about the downstairs! None of the adults go down there anyway!" Easy for her to say! But one week it happened: I overlooked the downstairs bathroom. No one cleaned it; it was au naturel. It was also the week that our CARE group had a surprise party for our preacher and his wife, the Queen of Clean. She is pathologically neat and she was coming to my house! I should have sensed impending disaster, but I was too busy helping the kids stuff things under the couch.

Sure enough, after the "surprise" part of the party was over, she disappeared. I looked around and she was gone. I asked everyone, "Where's Teresa!?" and finally someone said, "Oh, I think she's using the bathroom downstairs."
Four of my five children are boys; the eldest boy is 12 and the youngest is 4. The downstairs bathroom is the boys bathroom; any of you who have young boys know what that means.
Somehow Teresa survived the experience, but I've never quite forgiven Stephanie for the advice that backfired in such an awful way. Maybe one day I'll be able to make it up to Teresa.

Anyway, I'm not sure where I was going with this... back to the CARE group. If my laundry piles are discovered, maybe I'll make another mom's day. And for those of you who have loved me enough to let me see your laundry... thank you. You are a true friend!


summer said...

hehehehehehehehehehehe!!!!!! i had a similar experience with that same sweet neat freak. i was very pregnant with anna and the day before i went on bedrest, i had planned for the elders and terrel and teresa to come over(probably what sent me into premature labor ;-)). we were having a year in review with dessert and coffee. a very pregnant me had left cleaning the bathrooms to my husband. big mistake! basically he just swished the toilet and grabbed the trash!! while she was at my house, she developed one of her migraines and got sick. of course, she used that toilet. i thought i was about to do the same thing while she was in there for fear of what she might find. thankfully she came out feeling better and was very sweet about the bathroom. i'm sure she is as understanding with you as she was with me. she also realizes she is fanatical and not everyone is like her nor does she think they should be. she kinda gets a bad wrap for being too critical about other's messy houses, but i have never heard her say one word of anything but nice comments about anyone's house. hope that makes you feel better. and i hope your care group goes well tonight. wish i could be there!!!!! love you,

Katherine@Raising Five said...

Ah, you are a woman after my own heart! My trick for unexpected company is to carry everything that doesn't have a home into the garage in a laundry basket. Or sometimes several. Sometimes the baskets full of "whatever" stay out there for long periods of time, leading me to wonder why we had those items in the first place! I have no tricks for bathrooms, unfortunately. So been there, though. I sometimes wish I could "catch" some of that pathological cleanness from someone...

Great, funny post, and congrats on your blogiversary. Thanks for the link!

Elizabeth said...

Ah yes, I have four boys, and I knew exactly what you meant!! Funny. The bathroom is something I wish noone would ever see when they come to our house!
From one Failed Housekeeper to another.....Oh, I understand about the laundry too, I have 7 kids altogether!