Of all the myriad mysteries of adulthood, there is one that stymies me above all the rest.
It’s not relationships or taxes or what the hell grey hair is made of (pipe cleaners? It’s something entirely different than the rest of my hair, I assure you.)
What I don’t understand is when/how in the world do people find the motivation and time to clean their grown-up houses?
This seems to be something that comes so naturally to every adult person I know. It’s not that they love it, but they see the necessity and they get it done.
You can drop in on them at any old time and rest assured that there will be a seat on the couch not already occupied by week-old clean laundry stubbornly refusing to fold and put itself away.
Me? Not so much.
It’s not that no one tried to instil the importance of tidiness to me as a child. My brother and I were in charge of dishes from a reasonable age and were enlisted from time to time to help with vaccuuming and laundry and cleaning the bathroom.
It’s just that we were born with some kind of super resistance.
Consequences be damned, when sent to my room to clean it, I’d start out all right, but there were just so many other things getting in the way, like a sudden need to dress every one of my stuffed animals in matching outfits made of my socks or dressing up as Cinderella and waiting for some wisecracking mice and industrious birds to come along and get the ball rolling for me.
You’d think, as a grown woman who has lived both on her own and with roommates and boyfriends, I would at some point have outgrown this.
With the rare exception, every attempt to do a thorough cleaning or purging of extraneous stuff just turns into me trying on every pair of shoes in my closet or sitting down to relearn how to make a friendship bracelet with the embroidery floss I just found in a drawer.
I don’t live completely mired in filth or anything, but my place is definitely not guest-ready at a moment’s notice. There are shoes spilling out of the closet, the armchair is drowning in clothes, and the dining room table is all but covered in assorted items that have leapt out of my hands upon entering the house over the past couple of weeks.
If I manage to get the place looking respectable, it lasts for about a day. I’m like a tiny unstoppable tornado, I swear.
My one consolation has been that people who do not know me well are quite surprised if I tell them, or god forbid, if they witness my domestic defeat for themselves. There might be a wake of skirts and tops and makeup and shoes from my bedroom to my front door, but by the time I leave the house, apparently I typically look quite put together.
Recently I decided to stop feeling guilty about the mess.
Maybe that’s a little immature, but the way I see it is this:
Yes, I am a bit of a slob. But having a Martha Stewart-pristine show home is not going to make me a kinder person. It’s not going to make me funnier or friendlier or better at anything but being tidy.
Of course I will tidy up if people are coming over. I want my guests to feel comfortable but I know I’m just never going to look back and regret that time that I went out for a drink with friends instead of staying home and scrubbing the taps with a toothbrush.
I get why it’s a priority for some people, but for me, right now, it’s just not.
I’ve got bigger things to worry about and better things to do.