Tuesday, May 4, 2010

My House is A Pigsty

One of my mommy friends recently came over for a playdate and told me how refreshing it is to come to our house because I’m not one of those moms who’s worried about keeping up the appearance of having everything neat and tidy and in order.

“My house is a pigsty, you mean?” I said.

“And I think the state of mess in your house works in proportion to how happy you are with your spouse. And you and David are one of the happiest couples I know,” she went on.

“I know you’re not the kind of person who gets offended by that sort of thing,” she added.

I hastened to tell her that she was wrong on two counts: A. That David and I were one of the happiest couples and B. That I’m not the easily-offended type. David and I fight like we’re on Jersey Shore half the time and I, of course, want people to think that I am effortlessly perfect. 

“I don’t want people to think I am a slob, for crying out loud,” I exclaimed.

“You’re not a slob,” she said, “It’s just nice because I go over to other moms’ houses and everything is perfectly in place and it makes you feel bad about the state of your own house.”

The distressing thing was, I didn’t think my house was that messy.

I mean, it wasn’t a day where I swang my front door open with gusto, feeling pride over the fact that my dining room table could actually be used to eat on, rather than rest junk on. It wasn’t a day where my bed was made or where all the stray crayon masterpieces were stowed in their proper place or where I’d done the dishes. It wasn’t THAT kind of day. But it also wasn’t a day where I felt compelled to say, “My house s a total mess,” as I let the guests in.

“If I waited til my house was in order to have people over, we’d never see anyone!” I told her.

“I know,” she said.

“And every spare second I have, I’m working or playing with the kids,” I said, “so when can I clean?”

“I know," she said.

“Plus, as soon as I clean everything up, the kids walk through and instantly re-set it back to maximum mess,” I said.

My friend smiled but said nothing, waiting for the unexpected explosion of defensiveness to blow over. I guess I’d duped her into thinking that I was actually comfortable in my skin and brimming with self-acceptance which of course, I am not. Far from it. Because after my crazy defensive tirade, I proceeded to clean up my house, right in the middle of the playdate. Picking up discarded pajama pants and stray Legos, pairing up shoes and placing them by the door.

And I continued on this over-zealous cleaning jag for about a week, after which point, I found myself spent and relapsed as a slob.

So when my friend Amelia unexpectedly popped over last weekend, she found our house in its standard state of disrepair. What David likes to call Das Messenhaus.

“Your place looks like a tornado hit it,” she said, laughing.

“I know,” I said, “But it is precisely because of this mess that David and I are one of the happiest couples in New York.”