In college, I watched the TV show Hoarders every week. I obsessively planned to watch each new episode. And after each episode, I would mop my floors, vacuum, fold my clothes and put them away, make my bed, reorganize my bedside table, clean out my drawers, etc. I cleaned, in short. I cleaned my house from top to bottom.
As time went on, each episode got harder and harder to watch--and my post-Hoarders cleaning spree got longer and longer. I realized that Hoarders made me way too anxious. There is no reason to go through life making yourself miserable over and over again, so I vowed to never watch Hoarders again.
Despite the fact that I stopped watching Hoarders, my obsessive cleaning didn't stop... and my sense of never having a clean enough house increased. After I moved into my new home in December 2013, I have ping-ponged between "it's not so bad" and "I should just burn this house down."
But sometimes, it just didn't feel like enough. When my house is dirty, I feel very anxious and easily angered, very on-edge. It drives Danny crazy. At times, I felt like my house would never be as clean and cute as I want it to be.
But then, someone will come over and I'll mention how messy or disorganized it is, and they'll give me this look of vague disbelief. "Michelle," they'll say, "your house is, like, nearly perfectly clean and organized and decorated. You're crazy."
My due date group recently had fun making home tour videos: everyone walked through their house, filming with their phone, and posted it. When I posted mine, I, of course, included, "It's so messy." And you know what? Most people said it wasn't messy.
I look around and I see stuff; I see the dog hair I've been meaning to vacuum up for a week; I see the trash that needs taken out, the book shelf that needs gone through, the Goodwill piles I need to just load up and move. But other people don't see those things.
My house is never going to look magazine-ready. My living room has been taken over by primary colored baby toys and a monstrous baby gate; my kitchen has a high chair in it, the counters are covered in bottles and formula, and I have a massive bottle drying rack next to the sink. Martha Stewart is never going to come here and compliment that.
Growing up means giving up things that were important to you. One of them, for me, is the perfect house. As people, we are messy and disorganized. We don't always keep the counters clean or our desks organized into perfect still lifes. And that's ok, really. It doesn't need to be. It's ok to be messy sometimes.