When I was a kid, my mom gave me a picture book that told the story of a little girl with a super messy bedroom – like banana peel-on–the-floor messy room – and how she had to come to terms with giving into her mother and cleaning it until it sparkled at the end.
I always thought it was weird my mom gave this particular book to me because there were no banana peels on my bedroom floor. Are you crazy? My siblings and I weren’t allowed to eat food anywhere but the kitchen and making your bed every morning was the norm.
I grew up with a mother that would wake long before dawn each day to clean our house. I have no idea what she was doing those few hours while the rest of us were in our beds, all I know is that I would come down and find her showered, dressed and ready for the day.
But there were eight of us, plus pets, and I had spent enough time at a girlfriend’s house growing up to see six children’s worth of laundry pile up on their basement floor to know what happens when you don’t stay on top of things.
At some point, part of the daily routine for at least some of us kids, was to not only make our beds before school, but to give our bedroom floor a one-over with the vacuum. As I said, no banana peels here.
So of course, now that I’m a mom with kids and lots of beds that need to be made and rugs that could use some vacuuming, I’ve had to come to terms with my own level of cleanliness and decide what I can live with.
It turns out, that for as much as we sometimes question and rebel against earlier generations’ ways, I don’t like living in a pigsty. I make my bed every morning, take out the trash and run my dishwasher every night and like to keep the pillows on my couch zhoozhed (think Carson Kressley on Queer Eye).
Okay, I do have hoarding tendencies when it comes to paperwork and reading material and if you went into my bedroom right now, you’d fine a few piles of such on tabletops and maybe a couple on the floor (it’s tax time, people!). But I try to keep it in control and not let it bleed into other parts of the house.
Enter: The Messy, Messy Girl.
I have a teenage daughter who’s lovely. She’s pleasant, will help out making dinner and can wield a drill and level with mad skill. She gets good grades, babysits often and works a few days a week in a local store.
But man, she’s a slob.
On her floor right this minute is a giant plastic bag stuffed with bedding used on a ski trip in January; two brown paper lunch bags containing Tupperware containers from school lunches last week; inside out sweaters, jeans, underwear and socks, socks, socks, all scattered in piles across the room.
It’s a fucking shit show, and while I support an individual’s right to live as he or she pleases, I am drawing the line at squalor in my own home.
We’ve been down this road before – where I’ve taken away her laptop and/or cellphone – and she does a big clean up. Then a few days later, it will be hoardersville again.
This morning, I peeked into my 10-year-old son’s room and found he’d taken a page from his sister’s messy book. There are clothes scattered all over the floor, his bed is unmade and there’s an empty can of silly string lying alongside an elbow pad and some USB cords.
But no banana peels. Definitely no banana peels.