That probably sounds terrible, unless you are the person in your home responsible for cleaning up after everyone else. In that case, it makes perfect sense. I believe of all the things we as humans, adults and parents are tasked with, maintaining a clean and orderly home is one of the toughest.
Before I had children, I knew and could tell you the origin of every item in my home. I’m not kidding, and I’ll bet you could probably say the same thing if you think about it. After the kids came along, and I’m talking when they were old enough to be mobile, I couldn’t say that any more.
At first it started out small, the kind of thing you’d hardly notice and probably brush aside. For instance, I’d be folding a basket of laundry, and a shirt or sock would show up that I had never laid eyes on before. Initially, I chalked those incidents up to mere forgetfulness. But as the kids got older (and more numerous), the incidents of finding UFOs (Unidentified Foreign Objects) in our home became more frequent, as well.
We’d find jewelry (always one earring, never two), shoes, jackets, backpacks…you name it, we’d find it. No one ever laid claim to these items, and no one ever knew whose they were or where they came from. After a while, I’d just throw the unidentified items away. Looking at them just bugged me – where do you put shoes that belong to no one? What do you do with one earring if no one recognizes it? The closet hoarder in me had a hard time getting rid of that stuff at first but eventually, it became necessary.
When our youngest two were in high school, an entire car showed up one night. No one recognized it. There were no extra people in our house. No one saw anyone park the car in front of our house. Our neighbors had no idea where it came from. It was just there. It stayed where it was parked for a day or two, and then it disappeared as magically as it materialized.
What about cleaning out closets? How often do you do that? When we first bought our house back in 1999, I was absolutely obsessed with keeping the drawers and closets neat and organized. I quickly learned, however, that there is a crew of people living somewhere in our house whose sole purpose is to undo any closet/drawer cleaning. I could clean out a closet and within 48 hours, it would look like gremlins had gotten in there and intentionally pulled clothes off hangers, spit crumbs in the floor and scuffed up the door just for kicks. Within 72 hours, there would be a film of dust and cobwebs on top of the pile that magically materialized in the first 48 hours. Now no one ever saw this crew of people. No one ever heard them at work. I just know they exist; I saw the evidence.
Then there’s the cagey apparition responsible for carpet stains. This individual shows up, most frequently, right after the carpets have just been cleaned. I remember coming home from a dinner one evening several years ago. We had left all four children at home, as they were plenty old enough and responsible enough for us to do that. We thought.
As soon as my husband and I walked through the back door (scooting our “guard” dog out of the way with the door as she continued to sleep, never even opening one eye to see who was breaking in), a giant purple carpet stain caught my eye as soon as I stepped into the house. It was, of course, perfectly centered on the white carpet in the family room, the nerve center of our home. The stain was easily more than a foot in diameter and still damp. Someone had apparently attempted to clean it. No one, none of our children and certainly not the dog, had any idea how it got there. Complete mystery.
What can we take away from all this? Just don’t clean any more, at least not if you ever have children in your home. It won’t last. And if it’s just you and your spouse or roommate at home, then you each always have someone to blame.
Do you have a cleaning routine, and do you require your children to help around the house? How’s that working?