Yesterday at homeschool playgroup, I was chatting with two friends, when suddenly the topic veered to housekeeping (I'll spare you the details). It became clear that these two friends see my housekeeping as, um, good. Maybe even very good. They think my house is neat, and clean, and generally pleasant to be in.
(Let's all pause here so that my mother can go get my father, read this to him, and then give him some space so he can pass out in shock without hurting himself. I was a bit of a slob when I was a kid.)
Perhaps because I still believe those voices in my head that tell me I'm a slob, I immediately started to protest:
"My house isn't perfect!"
"I have piles of stuff on my piano!"
"There is often kid stuff strewn around my living room."
and my favorite
"I have deep-seated psychological issues that make it difficult for me to be comfortable in a messy house."
Now I ask you. Why, oh why, do I need to excuse myself? Why can't I really own this? When I look around, I see that my house is pretty good, most of the time. I try not to drive my kids crazy with this (I don't always succeed) and I often give myself a day or two off from my cleaning routines. I really work at finding the right balance between having a house that looks comfortably lived-in and actually being comfortable living in it.
The truth is, whether I am letting it slide or keeping up with it, it is important to me to live in a house that is reasonably well cared-for. And the fact that I can't seem to be gracious about this when other people notice is a red flag that I am still believing those voices in my head rather than looking around me in this moment and seeing that I have become competent about taking care of my house.
On the other hand, I'm no paragon. Know what I did today instead of track down and deal with the mildewy smell in my bathroom? I lit an essential oil burner in there, and now my bathroom smells of cedar and eucalyptus.