When my husband and I were dating, his mother had this wastebasket in her bathroom that was always empty. Always. It seemed to serve virtually no purpose whatsoever, having a wastebasket in your bathroom but not using it. Sometimes I’d throw tissues in it, just to see something in there. Within the half hour, the tissues would magically disappear and it would be empty again.
Her house was always immaculate, but this useless wastebasket is the thing that haunts me to this day.
I’m now married with a family of my own, full blown adulting to the fullest, and my wastebaskets are overflowing. All of them. They are *never* empty. There’s one in my room, in my kids’ rooms, the bathrooms, the kitchen, and the basement. And they are all packed to the gills with God-knows-what.
When I empty them, they fill back up as quickly as my mother-in-law’s wastebasket seemingly emptied itself.
It’s obviously not about the wastebaskets. If I were just a person with surplus garbage in baskets around my house, it would be a manageable problem.
But I’m also a person with dirty laundry in almost every room, just lying about. There’s also clean laundry, the unfolded kind we all get dressed from in the morning. I’ve been “still doing the laundry” for about six consecutive years now.
I’m also a person with a sinkful of dirty dishes at all times. A person who will leave them there overnight, even sometimes more than one night. Some days there just isn’t enough time — or energy — for emptying and filling the dishwasher and then washing pots and pans forever.
I’m a person with smudges on windows and doors and mirrors. Not because the smudges are unavoidable, but because I have even less time for fussing around with Windex than I do for emptying eternally full garbage bins.
I’m a person who doesn’t sweep and mop and dust on a schedule.
I’m a person with random papers and notices and letters and bills lying around all over the place.
I’m a person with a growing mountain of clothes in the bedroom corner, the reject outfits that I simply didn’t bother hanging back up.
I’m a person with toothpaste on the mirror and gunk at the bottom of the sink and the toilet.
I’m a person with dog hair on the couch and carpet, and dust bunnies under the bed big enough to hop away and celebrate Easter. A person with messy counters, random toys and shit strewn everywhere.
I’m a person with mismatched furniture, unpainted walls, a half-finished kitchen, hardly any décor worth mentioning. The epitome of a lazy homeowner.
Frankly, I’m a person. Just one person. A person caring for a whole family, performing the impossible balancing act of work and kids and marriage and life. A person who has no time or patience for tidying up. A person who prefers to spend my rare free time relaxing rather than scrubbing.
This is harder to admit than you think. I’ve revealed much, much more personal details of my life to the general public, but this one is honestly one of the hardest. I fear the judgement of the OCD-addled mom or grandma, shaking her Costco jugs of Lysol and bleach like a pitchfork in my direction. I’m terrified that my lackadaisical attitude toward housekeeping will horrify people who are disgusted by a mess of this magnitude.
But I think, I THINK, there are less of those people around than it seems. And I mean no offense toward them (pitchfork cleaning products aside)—truly, how I envy them!—but I just will never, EVER be one of them. And I suspect many of you will never be either.
I was talking with a mom from the kids’ school recently who kindly admitted to sending her daughter to school in dirty, mismatched socks. My kind of mama! I laughed and told her the sweats my son had on simply passed a sniff test from the dirty laundry pile earlier that morning. We then both admitted that binging Netflix is a lot more fun than doing laundry, and bonded over all the series we’d devoured while disaster piled up around us.
I want to be organized, neat, tidy. I’m sure it feels wonderful living in a beautiful and orderly home.
But I also want my sanity — and unfortunately, they don’t sell jugs of it at Costco.