My step-daughter says to me last night “Your bathroom looks so much better. The bathtub looks like someone has really been scrubbing. It’s nice.” I looked at her and replied “Yeah, someone in this house did good…it wasn’t me.” My husband calls me yesterday and says “It’s so nice to come home to a clean kitchen. It looks really good.” My reply? “Cool.” I didn’t do it. My daughter told me “Why does he always make me do the recycling?” I said “I don’t know, ask him.”

All these comments were made to me yesterday. As I got online this morning and began my morning ritual of reading e-mail and blogs an interesting thing happened. One of my sweet new friends wrote about ‘the job’ and avoiding life by focusing so much on getting the product out the door. Her words crystallized for me the thoughts that were floating around in my head last night as I processed all the remarks about cleaning this house I live in.

Since getting hooked up with my husband…actually, that’s not true, it goes back farther than that. For as long as I can remember, the people in my life have always been concerned with appearances. Is the house clean enough? Are the children well mannered enough? Does the yard look pretty enough? Are you thin enough? Do you smile enough? On and on it goes. I have always felt like a square peg in a round hole because I don’t care so much about appearances. I don’t care if the house is spotless. I don’t care if the dishes wait ’till tomorrow. I don’t care so much about the yard. I like it when it’s pretty but my life isn’t going to end over a few weeds. Am I thin enough? Nope. My smile? It happens but only when I feel like it. Sometimes I smile too much according to those who care.

So, what do I care about? After I listen to whomever it is telling me this stuff all the time, I have a choice to make…do I say what I always say or do I just go quietly because it’s not worth the battle? The answer depends on my mood. Sometimes I know it’s not worth the battle that will ensue and sometimes I feel so angry and sick of it all that I speak my truth. I care about PEOPLE. I care about my daughters and my friends and my family. I care about their feelings and their emotional growth or lack thereof. I care about being kind and considerate and loving. When I go to visit someone, I could care less about the condition of their home or how great their housekeeping is. When I come home after a long day, I care more about my daughters and their thoughts and feelings about the day than whether the kitchen is totally clean. I want the people I love to know they are what matters to me. The housework will get done. The dishes will get clean. The lawn will get mowed and on and on it goes.

Don’t get me wrong. I like things to be clean and tidy. I’m just not very good at it. I worry more about my people than about my house. If I’m doing the kitchen floor and one of my girlies wants to talk about something that is important to her, I stop what I’m doing and listen. Sometimes I get back to the floor and sometimes I don’t. That bothers most people I know.

I’ve tried to do it “their” way. I’ve made the effort to meet their “standard”. I suck at it totally. Their standard is not my standard. When it is my time to leave this earth, my daughters will not care about the cleanliness of my house. They will care about all the time I spent with them and all the memories we’ve made together. When I begin that next journey, my girls will know I loved them…the real them…not the facade they put on for those in this life who care only about appearances. What’s important here? What has real meaning? What will be remembered? How many “things” we accomplished or how many people we loved? I choose the people.



6 responses to this post.

  1. Ahhh Traci.. I hear you on this subject..I can often do very well at keeping my house clean and organized–but sometimes have a hard time with it. (My A.D.D. kicks in and I have a hard time focusing on what to do first/and get overwhelmed!)..but in the end the things that always matter most are emotions and people..and I like that about you! I think there are some people who spend so much time cleaning and keeping everything in order, and they end up having very little down time with their loved ones. I’ll take a cuddle from dh or my son any day over getting stuff done!


  2. There will be plenty of time for all of that. When you are sitting in an empty nest. Alone. Longing for the days when your kids were there making the house a home. No worries there, that’s for sure!

    In the meantime, enjoy every moment, every experience. People, not things. Not stuff. Not even “important stuff” like a house. It reminds me of the Christmas Eve a couple of years ago when I was expecting family and some friends. The house was a bit of a mess. My kiddo and I started making cookies instead of cleaning. My mom called in the middle of a giant powdered sugar fight we were having, creating an even bigger mess.

    “What on earth would possess you?” The house will not be clean. What will you do?

    I said, “ask folks not to look, and use candles for light.”

    You know what? If people are so busy looking at your “mess” perhaps they should not have been invited. You know?

    Love you!!!


  3. If my choice is playing with my kiddo or cleaning the house, playing wins every time.

    I tell my students at their first lesson: If you expect a clean house, then you’d better have a lesson on Monday. By Friday, forget about it, and mostly, I don’t care. I mean that, too. I’ve told my mother much the same thing, because she will comment. I let her know ahead of time that I don’t want to hear one single word from her, nor from my sister repeating what my mom has said. I’m clean, I’m just not tidy. And I’m cool with that.

    I am a fat girl. Always have been, probably always will be. My self worth has never been directly proportional to the size of my clothing. I have always believed that if you have a problem with it, then YOU have a problem. If that’s the case, then I didn’t care to invite you into my life to begin with.

    Appearances can be deceiving.


  4. I used to worry about what people thought. I have a husband who has an obsession with a clean house. I realized I can’t live up to his standards, so if he wants to clean it his way “fly at it”. Once I accepted that it wasn’t me that had the problem, I haven’t worried at all about living up to his standards!


  5. I can learn alot from you.
    While I think I talk and share with my kids all the time. I spend time that could be for me instead on keeping the house clean or the yard just so.
    Thanks for making me think about what I take from me in order to
    make my life cleaner, tidier
    and organized…


  6. what an admirable characteristic to possess. certainly not something to apologize for or feel the the need to defend. you, my dahlin, have a heart of pure gold. be selective in those you allow to handle it. peace to you, t.


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