Sunday, January 25, 2015

Making Home

I grew up in a pristine home, kept by a mother who never seemed to tire of cleaning, and who never required any of her six kids to do chores aside from setting the table and unloading the dishwasher.

My mother never seemed to resent Saturday morning cleaning sessions. In fact, I never even remember seeing her clean, although I also never saw her sit. Our house being in a constant state of near perfection was just a given. I only remember one time ever being fussed at your making a mess. My sisters and I happened to discover that you could squeeze pomegranate seeds at each other and wage beautiful, pink warfare. As it happened, my mom's newly hung antique lace curtains became the most tragic casualty.

My own house and attitude towards housecleaning are almost 180 degrees from my mother's. My house always needs a minimum of four solid hours of deep cleaning, even after I've spent four hours deep cleaning. I force my children and husband to help me vacuum and wipe off baseboards and deposit things into the appropriate location. And I resent almost every minute I'm doing it. I just want to be reading a book, watching a movie, taking a walk, or engaged in pretty much any other activity that isn't cleaning.

I try to remind myself that my house doesn't need to be perfect. I read books that assure me in their very titles that "A perfectly kept house is the sign of a misspent life. " I start a blog series on the beauty of other people's messes, but despite my best efforts, I just can't come to peace with the dusty corners or the act of dusting.

I have a "source" who told me that after having been invited in to several old money, New England houses, that she discovered that these people, the paragons of class and culture, had boarder line dirty houses.  I think it's like the house keeping equivalent of French women's hair; when things are incredibly beautiful and tasteful, grooming is superfluous.

I don't think that I am supposed to admit this, but I have always sort of wanted to pass myself off as some sort of bourgeois bohemian, although I'm pretty certain that the fact that Tom and I both work actual jobs and receive actual paychecks forever precludes us from being such. Regardless, in my bobo fantasies, my untidy house is charming and whimsical, not simply a testament to lackadaisical nature.

I'm not certain that I will ever come to accept my mediocre house cleaning skills. I hope to one day feel confident enough in my home making skills that I no longer care. Meanwhile, I will blame my mother for this problem because I'm pretty certain that is how to deal with most problems in life.


  1. Books might be some of the best kind of mess makers though. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't envious of prettily curated bookshelves at times. But ours will never look like that.

    1. You know which bookshelves I really don't understand though, the ones where they put the spines in for a more uniform look. How do those work?

  2. housecleaning, pish posh. I was also brought up by a fastidious mother in terms of house-proud cleanliness. I remember her always always picking things up and I had to help - on the weekends, dusting the house or cleaning windows, and it had to be done properly. My house however, is pretty much a trainwreck - I have not enough hours in the day to pick up after the kids as well as not lose my rag about it. But that doesn't stop me sort of stressing about it. I'd like for my house to be cleaner....but I spent far too many hours doing it as a child to bother with it now. (unless there is a birthday party or dinner/bbq at our place looming - like tomorrow! I will be feverishly scrubbing up tomorrow!) Teeny x

  3. There's something to be said for a little bit of chaos! :) I hate that I'm so overly obsessive about cleanliness - it gets my own nerves, and my husband jokes ("jokes"...) that I'm addicted to vacuum (a habit I think I inherited from my own mother).

    Your home is so inviting!

  4. I think it is important to have a clean house. A clean house is not necessarily a clutter-free house, however. I make sure that there is no dirt or old food laying around. I would not want bugs or mold to grow. However, when papers lay on the counters and toys are in the kids rooms, this is much less important to me.

    German Zollinger @ Total Clean Equip

  5. This is a great article. Thank you for sharing it with us. It takes something unique to make a house a home and it seems like you’ve managed to make your home truly in your own style. Don't worry about the cleaning; there's never been a completely clean home which is actually lived in. It just doesn't happen.