What do you mean I'm not perfect?

I have decided to join Write of Passage- the Challenge to Write Well . The challenge today is to write about my most embarrassing moment... and honestly I don't think I can pinpoint one moment as the pinnacle of my embrassment. My embarassing moments are of the more on-going continuous just-because-I-am-so-awesome kind.

I am not the world's best housekeeper. I openly admit this. I am capable of cleaning and making my home look lovely. I do actually clean my home on a regular basis... daily in most cases.

But I have 3 kids and a husband who works from home and a blog that I MUCH prefer to work on. Those things often keep me from my housecleaning chores. And most of the time I am ok with that.

Except when people "drop by" for a visit.

Then I sincerely regret my decision to procrastinate on the whole cleaning thing.

My husband is a minister. A minister who has his office in our basement. Which means people drop by. A lot.

You would think that knowing this would cause me to turn into one of those Super Moms who have perfect homes all the time. But alas, it seems I am incapable of accomplishing such a feat.

The thing that drives me crazy though is that no one EVER drops by when I have just cleaned my home and it is all sparkly and pretty and not humiliating in the least. Nope. They wait to drop by until there are laundry piles (both clean AND dirty) scattered everywhere, until the dirty dishes are stacked high on the counters, until my floor is covered with crumbs and miscellaneous kid-stuff, and until I look like I just woke up... no matter what time of day it is.

Why do they do that?

One time in particular stands out. My oldest son was 17 months old and my younger son was a mere 3 weeks old at the time. I had post partum depression and a massive thyroid malfunction going on. My husband had an office away from home back then so he was gone for the day. I had become a hermit.

We lived in a HUGE apartment building that required us to buzz visitors up. I dreaded hearing that stupid buzzer but took comfort in the fact that it gave me a 3 minute warning. I can do a lot in 3 minutes.

On this particular day every single thing in my entire home was dirty or scattered or in a pile or on the floor. Nothing was as it should be. Not one square inch of my home was presentable. I was most certainly not presentable. I wasn't even emotionally presentable. There could not have been a worse day for an unexpected guest.

When that stupid buzzer rang my heart stopped as I looked around the chaos of my home. I quickly realized that NO ONE must EVER see what I had become. So I ignored that stupid buzzer and prayed earnestly that whoever it was would just go away. I started chanting lines from Forrest Gump "please God make me a bird so that I can fly far far away" and promising to be a better homemaker if only God would spare me the humiliation just this one time.

But no. My pleas were ignored and some evil  helpful person let the nice lady in. Of course I didn't know that and delusionally thought I had dodged the bullet once more. So imagine my horror when my doorbell rang. I broke out into a panic-sweat and tried to pretend I was not home but my would-be guest clearly didn't get the hint. She knew I was home and assumed I was simply occupied with my young children and proceeded to open the door and call out to me so she could surprise me with the lovely "welcome baby" gift from our church. Apparently my husband had confirmed that I would be home but failed to call me with a warning. I truly wanted to kill that man in that moment.

I wouldn't even invite her in I was so horrified. I rushed to the door and tried to block the way into my home.  I'm sure she thought I was the rudest pastor's wife alive. But don't worry, from our front entrance she could see all the way into the living room disaster area and into the hallway filled with piles of dirty laundry and into the kitchen that had clearly been taken over by messy aliens.

She took a look around and a look at me and then stammered an apology and said something about the gift and dropped in my hands and hightailed it out of there. When she left I broke down and wept and cursed God for not saving me from the humiliation and my husband for not warning me about my impending doom and the universe in general for making my life one big cosmic joke. I felt very sorry for myself. And oh I was embarrassed. I just KNEW the whole church would know that I was the worst housekeeper in the whole world by sundown. I completely avoided that woman for months even though she was very nice and it was most certainly not her fault that I was a walking disaster area. She didn't even rat me out to the rest of the church but it didn't matter...the humiliation had worked its way deep into my soul.

Over the years I have come to accept my inadequacies and I try valiantly not to care about appearances when someone drops by. Everyone always says that people come to see me not my home. But there is always that part of me that just wants to sink into the floor every time the doorbell rings.

I desperately want a magic wand and an invisibility cloak like in Harry Potter. Or a maid.

I must admit now that my children are slightly older (7, 6, and almost 3) and two of them are in full time school it is a bit easier to keep up. But I am still no super mom. And my stomache still clenches every single time someone drops by... even when I really honestly like them and am genuinely happy to see them!

Nothing like a good dose of mortification to keep one humble I guess. On the up side I have found that people really are very forgiving and that I am certainly not alone in my housekeeping challenges. But every once in awhile I wonder if the organized cleaning machine that I once was before marriage and parenthood will ever return. I miss her.


Brigid said…
My housecleaning skills are lacking. My desire for a clean house is there, but then when it comes time to put down the laptop and pick up the softscrub, well, let's just say you can eat off my floors. Not because they are clean, but because there is so much food on them.
Lovely Rita said…
I'm a SAHM associate pastor's wife with similar stories who also has house keeping skills that have been slow to develop.

We've always lived in parsonages which can make the drop-in guest more frequent. Needless to say, I can totally relate to your story!!
lfhpueblo said…
Yea, what is it about people dropping in. I think it's polite to call on the phone first and ask if they'll be home on such and such a date and between the times of such and such, and could I drop by. I even do this with my sister, and when my mom was still alive with her. It's only common courtesy. Women should know how it feels to be caught off guard, and a pastor's wife is still a woman, not an employee of theirs. So come on all you drop byer's give everyone a break and call first and see when you can come by.
The rest of us want a chance to clean up and clean up our homes too.
Great writing prompt Tara-- it's these glimpses into who you are that drew me to you in the beginning. I agree that people aren't coming to see your house, but I also know how you feel. My solution is to leave the vacuum in the living room, in fact, plug it in just before you answer the door and then when you open the door, welcome your visitor in with, "Careful where you step, I was just doing a mad sort before I started my morning (afternoon/evening) cleaning." and then don't say another word about it.

That's not a lie, is it? I do a mad sort just about everyday. Unfortunately nothing ever leaves, it just waits for the next sorting time.
Annie Anderson said…
I'm definitely with ifpueblo on this one - isn't it polite to call first? You know, give fair warning? Set up a time?

I hate drop-ins, for the most part. There are a couple of people I don't mind just dropping by. But anyone else? Yeah, call first or I likely "won't be home." And most people in my life nowadays understand that.

There was a time, however, when people would drop by out of the blue and I remember being caught in a similar position. Stuff everywhere - laundry, dishes, toys and everything else it seems.

Moms of really little kids should be excluded, I think.

My ex-husband used to make irritating comments about what I did all day. Why aren't the dishes done? How come the laundry is still in the dryer? All kinds of questions (and not in a friendly tone, either).

So, one day, I really didn't do anything while he was at work. I let the kids play and make messes and I didn't do anything but watch TV and make lunch.

Then when he came home that afternoon and started in, I told him, "Hey, you don't like it, you can HELP and if you refuse, then you have nothing to complain about" and that was the last time he actually said anything to me about it.

But yeah - I miss that organized cleaning machine that used to frequent my house before kids and marriage, too.
Gabriel said…
I can relate. We go through the same frantic period every time we find out that somebody is coming over.

Only difference is that our kids are bigger now, so we make them help. Heck, sometimes we make them do all the work while we watch!

That's why you bring children to this world, isn't it? :-)
Stacy (Mama-Om) said…
Oh, I have so been there! Our house has been so extremely dirty and chaotic I can hardly believe it. Every time I clean something, my older son asks, "Who's coming over?"

The time after a new baby can be so hard... I am wishing you had more support during that time, especially having ppd and health issues.

Maybe your cleaning machine you will come back. You never know!

Anonymous said…
My late-husband would make the snarky "what did you do all day"comments. It especially got on my nerves when our daughters were 6 months & 2 1/2.
I tend to blame his step-mom. That woman was obsessed with clean, had a twice weekly cleaning lady, and put the 5 kids to work on a daily basis.
I remember him telling me I wasn't cleaning the bathroom well enough,so he took over. The man would stick his long arm (he was 6'4") down the toilet as far as it would go.
I decided I would not drive myself or my children crazy by being obsessed with cleaning. We have some clutter here and there, but usually I'm not outright mortified if someone drops in. It does seem to happen more often on the days I have a pile of clean laundry sitting in the living room & need to do the sweep/vac/mop job.
Ame in TN

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