It’s really bugging me. I couldn’t sleep last night and my mind wandered back to that phrase I encountered earlier in the day. I’ve heard it, seen it on cute little posters, and possibly even a bumper sticker? “A clean house is a sign of a wasted life.” Thanks. Thanks a lot. That’s me. I’ve wasted my life and now you know that I do nothing but clean my house all day and I am not a person of value. You know why it offends me? (yes you do, but I’m winding up here) It completely minimizes the effort I make on a daily basis to keep my house clean. I work my ass off and I’m pretty much the only person that appreciates my mind-numbing job. It implies not only that I have no life outside of cleaning but that people with unclean houses have awesome, interesting lives. I’ve been a CPS worker and I know that is certainly not true. “A messy house is a sign of a lazy person.” See? Smarts doesn’t it? Because it’s not true. It’s not true about you and it’s not true about me.
So what if my house is clean? I didn’t do it to make you feel bad. I did it because I like to have a clean house. I can think more clearly, I can relax more, I can focus on my other projects (oh wait – I don’t have any of those do I?). I get a lot of comments on my house situation, well-intended and just plain snide. My favorite was someone who said, “It doesn’t look like children live here.” It was not a compliment. It was dripping with accusation. I let it drop, but obviously it bothered me. What I should have done was march Miss Priss right up to my kids’ bedroom to prove my innocence. Unfortunately I knew she wouldn’t be able to see them under the clothes, toys, drawings, books, and Styrofoam peanuts. I suppose she will go on thinking I follow my stepford children around picking up everything they discard and putting them in their straight jackets when they think about using their toys. It is MY house after all.
I know, I know. I get the sentiment. I know that in the grand scheme of life a clean house doesn’t count for much. I know my children are more important than dust bunnies. I also know that people with messy houses are some of the greatest people in existence. I married a slob and I love him even though he tries to cover every single flat surface with his belongings. I know I’ve got some OCD/anxiety/control stuff going on. (I fit right in with the people over at iamneurotic.com). I am embarrassed to admit being organized is my talent. The one thing I know how to do very well. I could fill a book with cleaning and organizing tips. How lame is that? I don’t sing, I don’t play an instrument, I’m not particularly athletic, I’m certainly not artistic. (Like I’m going to parade this one around, maybe take it on the road? I could choreograph a routine set to music; perhaps a pop-up office set or toy room? My catchphrase, “Step aside, watch me organize!”) On the day we all got our assignments I was at the back of the line. “Sorry Angry Baker. All we have left is Organizing. But you’re going to love it!” Seriously? Organizing? Wow.
The irony of all of this is that I never wanted to be this way. This is the way of my mother. This isn’t news to her, I’m pretty sure she would readily admit that she warped me. She is a therapist after all. The houses I grew up in were clean. I can still hear my petulant 16 year old self, “Why don’t you want it to look like people LIVE here?” The running joke amongst my brothers and I was that the “living room” really should have been called the dying room because she would kill you if she caught you in there. My brothers loved nothing more than to sneak in after she had vacuumed (leaving perfect vertical carpet stripes) and write words in the fresh carpet with their fingers. Many of you would like to imagine that this sent my mom over the edge, but to her credit, my mom has a great sense of humor and try as she might, she always thought it was funny too.
People still comment on her clean home. I think there is a contingent that refer to it as “the museum.” I didn’t get it then, but I get it now. I was ungrateful and judgmental and ungracious about many things my mom did not only for me, but the things she did for herself. The good thing is, I’m paying for it now. And as a bonus, I find vacuuming very soothing.
So much for not ranting on the blog. There is a reason they call me the Angry Baker.