Do you see other people’s dirt?

When I was a child, if we had company coming—friends, family, business associates, anyone—we had a cleaning frenzy prior to their arrival.

I must have some kind of post-traumatic stress disorder from those frantic housework binges. I panic about the state of my household whether we’re hosting a guest minister, having people over for dinner, or my kids have friends over.

If the guests are particularly intimidating to me for some reason, the cleaning frenzy is worse. I’m certain these guests will notice my unwashed baseboards, the grubby walls, the stained carpet, and the footprints on the ceiling. Yes, footprints.

Remember, I have three boys and one girl. Girls have accidents with nail polish and craft supplies. Boys, on the other hand, are dirt movers. They move dirt to whatever surface they touch. Walls, floors, light switches, and yes, ceilings. We also have dogs, and because I love my dogs, they’re allowed on the furniture, no rooms are off limits, and they smudge up the windows with their wet noses. Dogs are messy. Like kids. And husbands.

housework Pictures, Images and Photos

This weekend we had company. I cleaned and scrubbed all day Saturday. Shrieking like a banshee about crumbs left behind on the counter and stinky shoes abandoned on the floor. Fretting over all the dirt glaring at me in 3D from every corner.
And I realized I was afraid.

Afraid of being judged a poor housekeeper, a failure as a wife and mother. Of being weighed in the balance against Heloise the Happy Homemaker or Barb the Bed and Breakfast Owner and found wanting. Afraid of winding up on one of those clean-your-house reality programs, sobbing over the spots on the kitchen ceiling. Afraid my guests would get in the car to leave and say, “Did you see the condition of her baseboards? How disgusting! How can people live that way?”

Fear, and the accompanying stress it produces, sucks the joy right out of hospitality, and that’s no way to live. So here’s my question, and I want honest answers (you can be anonymous, if you wish):

When you visit someone’s home, do you see their dirt? What do you notice?

4 thoughts on “Do you see other people’s dirt?

  1. Anne Mateer says:

    I never see dirt in other people's houses, yet I always feel terribly guilty about the dirt they see in mine! 🙂

  2. Cheryl Klarich says:

    I can relate to the extreme stress, the wishing I were perfect, so that people can come over at any time and- voila, House Beautiful! I definitly need notice, and even then, it's anxiety provoking.

    If I notice others "dirt" it's mainly to tell myself, "See, they can have people over and not have a melt down…" And I have a wonderful, relaxing,time- appreciating their willingness to have me over.

  3. Niki Turner says:

    One of my dearest friends was a terrible housekeeper. But she never fretted about it and I loved to go to her house. I wonder where we come up with that idea our homes should look like magazine photos.

    I love to watch HGTV when then do those room rearranges and take everything out and you can see all the grubbies that were hiding under the furniture. Makes me feel better. : )

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