As I sit here in my living room, looking around I see a pair of my husband’s shoes, a plastic little people camel, my vacuum, a cereal bowl, a dog bone, and the remnants of a party that took place 5 days ago. I see clutter. It’s all around me and it’s making me depressed.
I’ve never been a person with an immaculate home. Nor am I a slob. Our house would always have been considered neat, but lived in. However, lately I feel like we are on the cusp of slobby, a bathtub full of garbage away from our very own episode of Hoarders.
I know what you’re thinking, why don’t you get up from the computer and clean it? The truth is I’m exhausted. I’m drowning. It’s 10:30 at night, and I’ve had a full day of chasing a toddler and hauling children to various extracurricular activities. I’m spent, and I just need a minute to sit down and relax. To write. To decompress, but the clutter is making that difficult. Everywhere I look in my home I see my failures. I failed to finish the dishes today, I failed to finish the laundry piled on the floor, I failed to finish vacuuming, and our house will most likely be forever decorated for an 8 year old’s birthday.
It doesn’t help that I grew up in a home that was immaculate. My mother did the dishes every night. Our clothes were always pressed and folded. She mopped and dusted weekly. Not to mention the fact that she was a single mom and worked full time. I don’t know how she did it.
Fast forward 30 years to my home, where I’m a stay-at-home mom married to a husband who helps out, as most husbands do, and my house is nowhere near her standard of clean. And it seems like the more clutter we collect the less motivated I am to take care of it.
The fact is I’m drowning in our clutter, and so is my motivation. I get so overwhelmed at the prospect of starting to clean that it’s just easier to check social media for a few hours and take care of the clutter later. I put it off until tomorrow and sentence myself to yet another day of swimming around in our pool of junk. Refusing to admit to myself how much easier my life would be if I did something about the mess.
It’s hard to cook dinner when the counter is covered in crap. It’s hard to get the kids to school on time when I can’t find a clean pair of pants for them to wear. It’s hard to pick up the kids from school when you open the minivan door and a Happy Meal box falls to the ground. It’s hard to teach your autistic daughter how to put a puzzle together when you can’t find all the pieces. It’s difficult to put your children to bed when you can’t find a Lego-free spot on the floor to walk. It’s so incredibly hard to parent when you’re drowning. When you feel squished under the weight of all there is to do and all the stuff surrounding you, longing to be put in its place.
I find myself looking for an escape, whether it be shopping, vacations, or a good binge-watching session. I want to get away from it all and forget about the failures I see all around me. I’m looking in the backgrounds of pictures my friends post on social media, hoping to see clutter on their floors and counters. I want to know that I’m not alone. I want to know I’m not the only one failing.
I know I shouldn’t gauge my parenting on whether or not my home is clean, but I do. I’m always apologizing for the mess, and I don’t like visitors to come over unexpectedly. I have a hard time inviting friends over for fear they will judge the stain on my carpet, the stack of mail still sitting on the counter, or the pile of unorganized toys that seems to have taken up residence in our living room. Someday I plan to host a lunch for all the moms in my neighborhood, but until my house is in order, I know that day will never come. I envy those moms with a vinyl sign that says “Please excuse the mess, but the children are making memories.” They are free, they are happy with their job performance, they are the good moms.
It’s tough to say whether or not tomorrow I will finally begin to declutter or fall deeper into the depression the mess has caused me. I hope tomorrow I’ll start. I hope I won’t work diligently to avoid looking at the mess. I hope I take the mess head on and make life easier for everyone in my household. However, if I make the decision to continue to drown in the clutter, I know I’ll still get done what I need to do, even if it’s ten times as hard as it should be.
Because I’m a mom, and we can keep everyone above water, even while we drown.
Melissa Sackett is a mother of 3 daughters, and wife to 1 husband. When she’s not singing minivan karaoke or destroying a blanket fort she’s having fun over on her page Difficult Mommy. Make sure to follow her on Instagram and Facebook, too.