A Defense of Messy Mom


kids jumping on bed. messy momOur kids were completing their chore list the other day, whining while they worked, and the 6-year-old called me out for my untidy side of the bedroom. How could I expect them to maintain room cleanliness when my own was so messy?

Parental hypocrisy example #932.  

My family had a rare bit of free time over the holidays when my husband was off work, my kids were off (home)school, and Omicron had us limiting family gatherings. I had no demanding to-do list, or at least no list items with a glaring due date.

My partner was super excited to organize, cull, and clean. I was not.

I’m not the parent who uses “free time” to reduce clutter or get ahead on home maintenance. I recognize the importance of it, I just have no inclination to do it. I want to use “free time” to do things freely. Read. Watch. Explore. Repeat. The idea of spending scant amounts of unstructured time to efficiently “home make” infuriates me. 

I am Messy Mom.

Let’s be honest. The mom part has nothing to do with the messy. I was a messy kid and then a messy adult and, lastly, a messy teacher. My student teacher – the one I was supposed to be molding into a professional – begged me to let her organize my desk (I maintain this has nothing to do with my ability to educate).

Becoming a mom didn’t change these messy tendencies. And yet, I still manage to get the job done.

I know where the stocking hat is (under the dirty coat, next to the wet boots, and near the hissing cat).

I know where the school notebook is (buried on the dining table, under the made-up basketball league roster, and slightly tinged with food grease).

I know where the pajamas are (at the bottom of the clean clothes laundry basket, fresh out of the dryer five days ago).

When I do start deep cleaning the house, the kids inevitably ask, “Who’s coming over?” 

Some might call it laziness. Maybe that’s true, but it seems mean. 

I prefer a differentiated prioritization system.

To defend myself (and the rest of my kind), I am not lessened by an absent compulsion to clean things. If I have an extra 10 minutes, I do not find joy by rounding up dust bunnies. I find joy by reading an extra chapter or cat-napping or staring into space. Who’s to say these endeavors are any less worthy?

This is not to say that those who do clean and keep things tidy are in the wrong. In fact, I’ll be the first to acknowledge that you are far more efficient an adult than I will ever be.

I can live with that. We all parent in our own way.

I love my kids deeply and I manage their needs effectively. If I don’t win Homemaker of the Year (please tell me that’s not a thing) or decorate my home with the latest trend (our broken bathroom shower tile still shows evidence of a toddler tantrum 18 months later), so be it.

Just give me a heads up if you’re planning to stop by unexpectedly. I need to clean up a few things.


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