This post originally appeared on DC Metro Moms on June 11, 2009
The thrill is gone — from messy to neat and back again
For the first week we were trying to sell our house, it was kind of a game to keep it clean. How fast can I wipe up that spill? Neatness was that novel to me, and I realized I sort of liked the look of a clean house where clutter did not reign supreme. But after a rainy week’s worth of “picnics” on the basement floor so we wouldn’t get the table (and chair backs!) grubby and the floor full of crumbs, I’d had enough. I longed to leave my toothbrush out on the bathroom counter and to reclaim my kitchen.
On top of the general expected annoyance of trying to live like June Cleaver, my sensitive stomach never failed to remind me that eating under stress, especially restaurant food that might have a smidge of gluten or dairy, is a cheap ticket to Fart City for me. So, once we signed a contract on the house, it was pure bliss — and serious relief — to have the chance to really cook again without worrying about the smell of garlic or having not enough time to clean before people came over with their Realtor.
Soon after we were released from keeping up the not-lived-in look, I imagined that I’d write in celebration of my inner mess-maker. The real me is back! But I’m already seeing greener grass in that stressed-out month of house beautiful. This is a shitload of work, this way I live when no one is looking (except my husband).
Yes, I love making my own chicken stock and buying so many veggies at the farmer’s market that I can hardly close my tiny fridge (can’t wait until we get into that new kitchen with a full-size fridge!). But being healthy the way I do it means there’s always something to put away, either in the kitchen or elsewhere because I’ve been so busy I let my three-year-old ransack the living room (which just two weeks ago contained zero toys). The little boy and I are cut from the same mess-making cloth, and without the threat of two mortgages hanging over our heads inspiring me to keep up a good show, I am reminded what a pain in my own ass (and my husband’s ass) I am. You can’t even follow the trail of crap to find me; there are too many trails. I was a TV-free mom until this move, but you can bet some You Tube has kept the three-year-old tornado from whipping up of messes.
Last month, worried that the slightest thing would turn off a potential buyer, I was constantly wiping up tiny drops of spills. Now the counters are permanently home to entire projects in progress, and we’ve learned just how much lower my husband’s threshold for clutter is than mine. The idea is that the other house is bigger and offers a better use of space that should help address some of these problems in the future. But honestly, at this rate, we’ll be lucky if the paint dries in our new guest bedroom before our signatures dry on divorce papers.
While showing the house, I was constantly holding my breath and trying to just pretend it didn’t matter that I couldn’t find any underwear because I’d hastily stuffed it in a random drawer rather than leave a basket of laundry out. I had to hope that it would all work out and be over someday. Now I’m holding my breath on an the marriage/family front, hoping that maybe once the move is over (in a month), maybe we can all feel like we actually can find a way to live under one roof happily together.
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