Last month, during two weeks of consecutive travel, I received a message from my landlord that he needed to enter my home to check on a water issue. Because I was only home for a few hours over the weekend, we had opted for family time over hours of cleaning. Knowing my house was a disaster, I replied warning him that he would be entering a messy house, but he was welcome to do what he needed to do. Later that evening, I received a message from him stating, “I was in your home today and it was filthy. Why is that?” Proceeding to justify and defend myself, I grew angry. He offered unsolicited parenting advice and felt compelled to say, “I raised five kids and they never lived with the dirt I saw in your home. Teach your kids to pick up.”
I did not take it well. I went through a variety of emotions, from, “Would he speak to my husband like this?” to “He knew I was traveling, why DIDN’T he contact my husband?” to “What on earth am I going home to? It was a messy house, but not that bad when I left on Sunday.”
I felt anger and embarrassment and the dreaded mom guilt over our messy house. Am I a horrible mother because I don’t prioritize white glove standards in my home?
When I returned home the next day, I fearfully entered my house, dreading what I might find. There was dust and hair on the floor in the bathrooms. The house desperately needed vacuumed. The kitchen floor had remnants of the kids’ school snack preparing, and someone didn’t wipe the sink down after loading the dishwasher. It was a messy house, yes. Filthy might be a stretch. I guess it depends on who you ask.
After a couple of weeks of reflection, I’ve come to the following conclusions on this messy house situation:
- Yes, my kids can and should show more responsibility at home. Yes, we as parents need to do a better job of holding them accountable.
- I travel for work, and the kids have a lot of responsibilities when I’m gone. However, there really is no one home to hold them accountable.
- My husband is basically doing it on his own when I’m gone. And he wants to rest and enjoy his kids for the couple of hours he has before bedtime.
- My house will never be white glove perfect. Never.
- When it is necessary for mental health reasons, I will forgo housework to enjoy time with my family, or simply take some time for myself.
Truthfully, I’ve never been the tidiest person. But my kids are healthy, well-fed, and happy. We don’t entertain any uninvited four-legged guests in our home. You might not be able to eat off the floor (or maybe even at the dining room table) very often, but I’m not afraid to have you over, messy house or not. I will not let this man’s expectation or standards let me feel like less of a mom, or human for that matter. And I will most certainly never let him in my home when someone isn’t there again.