Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Big Sigh from Home and Garden

I decided to pay strict attention today to everything that I did, to see where I may I catch myself wasting a bunch of time that could be spent doing "domestic work". Unless you count those silly hours that I slept last night, I was kind of surprised that there were not too many. I was either feeding children, educating children, burping a baby, changing a baby or yelling at someone calmly correcting a beloved child.

This is going to sound worldly and pathetic, but I have to admit that I am jealous of my neighbors' houses. Yep I said it, I covet. I do not say this in jest or to be proud of my sin, but I say it because it is an issue I need to resolve. Surveying my home today, it looks like a crime scene. The only two rooms that do not resemble a burglary are the kids' rooms, ironically. I scoured and cleaned them this past weekend (with their help) and they are doing great at keeping them close to perfect.

Their mother's domain however? Oye.

I live in a typical suburban cookie cutter neighborhood. No million dollar homes, but decent sized and fairly new homes. We are really blessed. On our street are a ton of families with children and every morning at 08:30 we watch then board their big yellow bus and get whisked off to school. At 16:00 we watch them dutifully file off. The 7 1/2 hours in between I imagine their mothers are like madwomen cleaning and perfecting the domestic domiciles. I have proof...

Twice I have gotten into random conversations outside with two different neighbors. The conversation usually leads to what paint colors they are waffling between or the like since we do not have a ton in common (I have really nice neighbors but we do not see each other a lot). Once we run out of witty conversation I will say something like, "so, what is the layout of your house compared to mine?" or "is your bedroom in the front or the back of the house?". Anything to keep the conversation from that awkward silence.

Both times both women have said, "Oh, go in and look around!" I was flabbergasted. I have never and will never say those words unless I have 24 48 hours notice and my kids are shipped off to grandma's. Even then it would be iffy. You better believe I took them up on their offers.

Both houses were picture perfect. Not so much in the way things were decorated or arranged, although they were also nice, but moreover, the floors were clean, there seemed to be no hand prints on the walls and the houses seemed "sunshiny" (you would not have believed me if I said that butterflies and blue jays were sitting on the windowsills singing). Each time I slunk home in shame determined to repaint the entire house that afternoon.

Please do not misunderstand. I am blessed and I know this. Mr. Clean painted every room of the house to my exact specification (except for, ahem... my own room... ahem...) even though he abhors painting; we decorated the house the way we like it and even spent a little bit on a couple pieces of new furniture when we moved in. I like my house when it is clean. I liked it better four years ago when the paint had no fingerprints on it and was not getting chipped on the corners from being run into by various matchbox cars and Barbie Jeeps.

I have decided the only reason I would send my kids to brick and mortar school is to be able to keep up with the Jonses' and have a Home and Gardenesque house (okay, and to eat bon bons at 14:00). That almost seems a little more sinful than say, murder, doesn't it?

I guess I have to live in my reality instead of dreaming of someone else's. I love homeschooling (89.2% of the time) and having my kids learning, growing and changing where I can see it happen. Call me selfish, I just dig my kids (89.2% of the time), but boy will I be thrilled to see them shuffling off to college so I can have shiny floor and eat bon bons.


TheTutor said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting this! I was on a homeschool message board last week, and the folks there were discussing whether or not they could homeschool and keep their house clean. It was so depressing. I didn't even participate in the discussion because everyone was talking about how they were "visitor ready" within 20 minutes on average. Ack! There were a handful of people who admitted they were more like us... "visitor ready" with notification in the hours. (Overnight visitor ready would be a lot longer.)

I am not the best housekeeper in the world, anyway. I know that. (You know that.) But even if I was better, I still can't imagine being "visitor ready" in less than an hour.

It's nice to have a comrade. :)

Carolyn said...

Ditto that, Sister! College, here they come.

Mamma D said...

It gets easier as your kids get older... Little Brother is 7 and I am just now getting a handle on my house. I KNOW you have seen my house (or the one in Frederick) at, well, not its best.

When they get older, they don't "play" with toys so much, so there is less of their clutter around. They are better at occupying their own time, leaving you with a little more. It's the "seasons" thing. You will arrive at your clean house season... but right now you are in the "take care of me cause I am too little to take care of myself" season. Oddly enough... when they get older you almost wish they were still young. I miss having babies... then again, bonbon time is really great! (just kidding, lol).

Heather_in_WI said...

Heh-heh-heh. Is it bad that I'm glad others struggle with this? :-0

(Ok, let's ignore that part of my depravity.)

Actually, I discovered an amazing product for fingerprints (and those things that I don't want to think about, but that look like dried boogers) on painted walls!!! It's called "Greased Lightening". I think I got it at Target. Two sprays of it with a quick wipe of one of those non-scratch sponges got my walls super clean last weekend. It is my new miracle product. It seriously works on everything. No offense to your husband, but it works a million times better than Mr. Clean. ;-)


Renae said...

I clean houses on the weekend. Not mine, mind you. Other people pay me to clean their floors, so mine are sorely neglected. When I leave a freshly scoured house, I wish those past hours were spent cleaning my bathrooms. That is not to be, at least, for awhile. And when my children are grown, I will miss the laughter and morning cuddles. At least, that is what I tell myself. ;)

I really appreciate Mamma D's comment. This really is a season. We are preparing the soil in our children's hearts. Pushing a plow and pulling weeds tends to make a mess. :)

Mrs. Sam said...

It is truely a season...my kids are 15,13 and 9 and yep there's still alot of stuff but its more contained and easier to get them to clean up. One thing we do is have a tidy chair, so that at the end of the day, I go around and put everything in the room up on one chair...that way the floor is tidy. Ever notice when the floor is tidy the house just feels cleaner? Anyway, then the kids go to the chair, claim their stuff and put it away or else its off to charity. The other thing we've done is a jubilee basket where I will collect all items around the house in a laundry basket. If the kids want it back they pay me (and its a huge fine of $1,00 per item) or they wait until Sunday to get it back free...JUBILEE! Anyway, I think homeschooling is just a different lifestyle all together because we use all the rooms of our homes every single day unlike schooled families who are never in their homes except to eat and sleep. There's really just no signs of life! For me, I'll take the mess! It really does get better my friend, I hear you, I was there too! Love the bluejay visual...I have a neighbour like that too.