Nobody Ever Accused Me of Being Donna Reed

Early into my new gig as an accidental stepmom, I determined that part of my job description could not include frequent, thorough cleaning of the kids’ rooms. This wasn’t some high and mighty ideal, as if I were somehow above this mundane task. It was more of a recognition and acceptance that I was an abysmal housekeeper before I got kids.

For my 8th birthday, my parents gave me a poster to hang on my bedroom door. It was an elaborate cartoonish drawing of a disturbingly messy room with a caption that read: My Room: Love it or Leave it! They thought it was hilarious.

Right around this time, which was shortly after my mother stopped cleaning my room, my father took up photography. He did a series of shots with the poster placed in strategic locations around my room. Art imitating life and all. I was not at home at the time and only discovered he had done this after the prints were developed.

[For anyone under 30, I’ll explain: you used to have to take rolls of film out of your camera and drop them off at the local photo store. As long as it wasn’t attacked by either terrorists or a time-traveling DeLorean, you’d get your pictures, on paper, back in anywhere from 2-10 days.]

I highly suspect that beer was involved in my father’s art project and have no doubt that he highly amused himself while doing it. Had we the internet back then, he probably would have blogged it.

So I’m a slob. It never really bothered me until there were suddenly seven of us in a too-small rental house and I couldn’t find a single thing I owned because any object I let go of was immediately covered by six possessions that other people placed on top of it for the simple fact that there wasn’t a place to put their stuff either. If the object had the misfortune to be something shiny, it was ferreted away by #5 to his secret collection. Car keys were a particular favorite of his.

The truth is that out of all of us, my husband was the only one with a clue about how to run a household of this size. I tend to keep my mouth shut about that– in my neighborhood, it’s apparently sport to complain about your husband and how he can’t load a dishwasher. I’m afraid that if the women around here really know everything CC does in this house, they’ll take him and leave me alone with the kids.

I could write a whole other post on how my kids came to have a resentment against sheets. Oh, that’s right– I did. Over on Family Circle’s Momster blog: Parenting Confessions: Unmade Beds Don’t Bother Me. That’s why God gave us doors that close, my friends.

Are you a slob, or a neat freak?



29 thoughts on “Nobody Ever Accused Me of Being Donna Reed

  1. Oh, shiny things. Why must you derail ALL plans and required behaviors?

    I am a quasi-slob who is stricken with a sudden obsessive need to clean about once every ten days. I do clean every week, but not really that well. Mostly it’s what’s required – the bathrooms, the really deep kitchen cleaning, the floors. Maybe I dust once every two weeks. And there’s something to be said for the fact that if there’s a mess, it’s MY mess. Unlike in your house. I remember roommates. No.

    1. Isn’t the road to hell paved with shiny things? Hmmm. I have to say, roommates were way worse. Roommates are like… well, teenagers, now that I think about it.

  2. very much a recovered neat freak (so a slob) I remember when I had time to think about cleaning… it has not been for many years. Some days my house is clean… more often, it is not. I have learned to live with it- there are too many people here.

  3. I am a total slob, even though I really don’t like living in a messy house. But messy always wins. And I’m a stacker. Whatever I’m holding when I come in the door gets set down on the dining room table. Or the kitchen counter. Or the floor if it’s big. Stacker, stacker, stacker.

    1. I used to be a stacker. Then all these people started knocking my stacks over. I found out that I get it from my dad. I always remembered him being neat, but I went in his home office and it looked exactly like mine: stacks everywhere! I’m like you- I don’t actually like living in messy. It’s just very strong.

  4. I would be a slob if I didn’t have to be the one who cleans up after everyone. Although, I do have professional help to actually CLEAN clean the house. But I have to make sure the level of mess is picked up so she can actually get to clean the house. But the rest of my boys, all of my boys, are a complete and utter mess. I still love them, though.

    1. Cleaning before the cleaners come makes perfect sense to me. It’s not so much cleaning as clearing a path. In the blissful year long ago when we actually got to use a pro, I wouldn’t let her in the kids’ rooms. Because I didn’t have time to make the path. I know from experience that if you don’t have the path made, it’s like the La Brea Tar Pits.

  5. I’m not anal-retentive… I’m compulsively obsessive! (at least that is what my socks say — that were a gift from a friend). I’m seriously neat — I just can’t stand to have mess around and so even though I had 3 stepchildren and my own messy darling daughter, I somehow managed to maintain the spotless sink (and drawers and laundry) thing— and I’m afraid that now that all the kids are grown it’s only gotten worse. I love it when nothing in the entire house is out of place. Or even moves. LOVE it. It’s what makes me feel at ease…. and I don’t judge. I have lots of messy friends — I just go over and wash their dishes and wipe their counters, and sweep (if they’ll let me) and we talk and I pull out their cannisters and clean behind them and they know that’s just me — I’m not even thinking about it, I just can’t help myself. I love to fold laundry SO much, I can’t tell you … so please, invite me over! I can’t wait to make your beds!!!

  6. I dooo love clean, dust-free, toys-free and shining rooms but all I have time for is damage-control. Moreover, I am in this phase (meaning: my children are still too small) that damage-control even makes me feel proud of myself…”wow did I have the energy and time to do this?!?!”

  7. Funny. I have to have the main room of the house relatively neat but then I have huge piles of stuff everywhere and it drives my husband crazy. He can’t stand piles, but I can’t stand stuff all over the living room so keep creating more of them. So agree w/your reasoning about having a door! I use that one in my son’s room all the time. And we rarely make beds…. can’t imagine a household of your size and how tough that would be to keep up with, we only have 3 and a dog and it’s too much for me.

  8. I’m a secret slob. While I make sure parts of the house are neat and tidy, I’ll throw stuff in a closet in a big pile, or quickly throw a blanket over an unmade bed. I’ve even been known to cram unfolded clothes or mismatched socks in a heap into the drawers. Drives my husband batty (he’s actually very organized and loves to clean!)

    1. Ah, the closet stash! One of my old favorites from growing up in Indiana. For some reason, the closets in NJ/NY are too small to really help with that. I had one apartment that didn’t even have a bedroom closet, and my current bedroom closet is small, and has no doors. Boo.

  9. I stopped cleaning the kids’ rooms when it was apparent that I married into a family that quickly wanted me to be the maid. Fortunately for me, they don’t make French maid outfits this big; so instead, I bought each of the kids their own bottle of Windex and Lysol bathroom cleaner. I taught them how to spray and wipe, and never looked back.

    Sure there is stuff growing on the bathroom floor as I type this and their tubs may contain infectious diseases, but I agree that God gave us doors. (and I keep them closed at all times) I figure If Daddy-o ever gets tired of the mess, he can kick their butts into cleaning gear or clean it himself.

    1. One of the very best things about getting the house that we live in now is that the kids have their own bathroom. I never have to go in there, and don’t, except to crack the whip when we have company coming. I hearby publicly apologize to all guests who drop by unexpectedly and the babysitters.

  10. Betty, you are my soul mate. There is nothing better than a perfectly ordered house on a Sunday afternoon. Such bliss. I don’t mind folding laundry, but I absolutely HATE hanging things up. And I don’t clean at my friends’ homes, that’s my down time!

  11. I need to coin some sort of name for myself, because I have an allergic reaction to clutter, but I suck with the actual cleaning (dusting, vacuuming, etc.). I WANT everything to be sparkly and lemon-scented at all times, but then I see my laptop and it looks like so much more fun than the [neatly folded] pile of unused dust rags [tucked nicely away in the linen closet].

    P.S. – Ha! Just noticing / laughing at the comment box prompt.

    1. I laughed at that myself. I had forgotten about it. I love the idea of clean and tidy, I’m just lacking the abilities to actually make it happen on a consistent basis.

  12. I’m fairly certain that if it weren’t for my husband and the little man, I’d be featured on an episode of Hoarders before too long….

  13. I’m a member of the group, if you can’t beat em’, join em’. I used to be neat. Then I married a somewhat messy guy and gave birth to a really messy son so I kind of gave up. My son’s room makes a Tsunami look like child’s play!

  14. I can totally relate! My solution to trying to keep my kids’ rooms tolerable is to buy lots of boxes so I can scoop and dump as I go. That works well until we lose track of what is where, and the contents of each box gets emptied out on the floor!

    1. I have employed scoop & dump too! With similar results, I might add. The problem is that you lose track of what’s where unless it’s a see-thru box; if it’s a see-thru box they want everything in it, right now!

  15. Alas, I am a neat freak. But I don’t clean the boys’ rooms. Actually…I don’t even go upstairs except to wake them up in the mornings. Usually it’s still dark, so I don’t see any of the mess.

    My neat freakiness may change in about a month. We’ll see.

  16. Pretty much not. A neat-nick, that is. I started out as a certified slob, but at some point I developed a shred of human dignity and as my husband likes to say, I lived in constant fear that someone might drop by unannounced and the bathroom wouldn’t be clean. I actually do recall hearing someone pull in the drive once and yelling to him to, “hold them off at the door” as I bolted for the bathroom, sponge and bleach in hand. With hindsight, I’m not exactly sure what I was thinking. Did I really imagine they’d just stopped by to use our toilet? I dunno. Fortunately that phase of my life only lasted until I hit menopause. I’ve come full circle now, and I’m going to hold fast to the theory that living with a constantly evolving mess is somewhat of a finely tuned skill. Or so they say!

Comment. It gives me a reason not to clean my house.

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