It’s a Safety Issue

31 Aug

I am a subscriber to a number of blogs. One which I particularly enjoy is A Teachable Mom ( The writing is top notch and the subjects are diverse and interesting. I highly recommend you check out the blog.

Today, I present to you a guest post from A Teachable Mom.  Thanks so much to ATM. Read this post about ATM’s thoughts on cleanliness and you will see why I speak so highly of the blogger.

Despite what my children, husband, friends and family members enemies may tell you, I’m a fairly sane and even-tempered person. Mostly.

I also may be a teeny, tiny bit anal in my need for order and tidiness. It’s a lovable quality. Mostly.

Unfortunately, my aversion to messiness is a repeat lighting rod in my marriage; the cause of many arguments. My husband, Mike, and I are clear we’re not really fighting about clutter, chaos and crayons. We’ve been told dozens of times that we’re really fighting about power: who has it, who wants it and who’s going to keep the other from getting more. Sound like fun? I agree!

Unfortunately, I’m the one who pays good money for a therapist to remind me that I can be right or be happy. Not both. Not fair.

My therapist also is adept at pointing out that control is one of my flaws. As much as I prod and push him, he refuses to point out Mike’s flaws. That must cost extra.

We can all agree that my therapist’s reluctance forces me to point out Mike’s flaws for him. Today I’ll focus on one of his biggest: obliviousness.

Mike is oblivious to messes. He can look at this room and think, “You know, I think we could use a ceiling fan in here. I’ll head over to Home Depot now and get one.”


Photo Credit: evelynishere Flickr/Creative Commons

I look at this room, and I can’t breathe. I must sit down. But wait! There’s nowhere to sit. Even though it is only a picture of a messy room, I must sit down. Hyperventilating here!

Mike is able to walk over piles of clothes, underwear and toys in a single step and never look back. Every night he reads numerous books to our four year old daughter, Rhys, and doesn’t mind stacking the books on the floor in makeshift piles instead of putting them back on the bookshelf.

Here’s a typical interaction between us:

Me: Mike, can you help Rhys pick up her weeks’worth of underwear and clothes off the ground and put the books back on the bookshelf when you’re finished reading them.

Unspoken communication: I really mean right now. Who do you think comes and restacks the books on the bookshelf? The f**king library fairy?

Unfortunately, our marriage doesn’t flourish if I repeat every nasty thought I have in my head. I tend to come across as controlling and bitchy – even though I’m just being helpful! Truly.

So I have a new strategy. A wise friend recently reminded me that as long as I couch any request as a “safety issue,” I’m good to go.

Here’s my redo:

Me: Mike, honey, I’m concerned about your and Rhys’ safety. With all those books around, you could trip and twist an ankle. I hate the thought of you not being able to run or play basketball if you tripped over all those books. Would you put the books back on the bookshelf when you’re done reading them? It’s really a safety issue. Thank you.

Should work like a charm.

Occasionally, my anal tendencies desert me. A few weeks back, my husband took the girls to visit his family in Michigan. I enjoyed our house by myself for a blissful 29 hours. During this time, I noticed something odd. Messiness is comforting. And so much easier. I left dishes in the sink overnight, left groceries on the counter and newspaper and books strewn across the kitchen. Relaxing!

Apparently, when it’s my mess, I’m perfectly happy to ignore it. When a loved one’s mess is added to mine, I go postal. Curious, don’t you think?

My friends tell me I’m nuts lovable. Every parenting expert, book and blog warns that children and neat homes have never co-existed peacefully on this planet. Even though I believe this is true, I’m insanedetermined to be the first. Here’s my plan:

No matter what it takes or the fallout that ensues, we will get our house organized once and for all. And then we’ll keep it like that. We won’t touch anything. Our house will be a museum. That sounds so fun! To me.

Unfortunately, our daughters have other ideas about order and organization. Apparently tidiness is not fun. Who knew?

I have failed in my quest to teach my girls to put away things they take out. This was my sole reason for desperately wanting them to go to Montessori school. In Montessori, kids learn to return one toy to its designated place before taking out another.

For this reason alone, I think Maria Montessori was a genius! She also may have been a tad anal. (I love her for that!)

Unfortunately, we weren’t accepted to any Montessori schools. (Perhaps the school administrators were so awed by my organizational abilities, they didn’t feel worthy of teaching my progeny? Something like that.) Either way, Montessori was not our fate (apparently the universe prefers to give me repeated practice with letting go of my anal tendencies) and the messes continue.

I’m also one of those people, the sane few, who straighten up the house before our housekeeper comes for her monthly cleaning spree. While my husband cannot comprehend this, I want you, dear reader, to hear me out. I refuse to pay someone to clean, only to come home to a clean, messy house. I want a clean, neathouse. And I make everyone miserable making sure I get one. Once a month.

If you are one of those people who straighten the house before a housekeeper comes to clean (or would if you had a housekeeper), please raise your hand. Thank you. I count, hmmm, let’s see … everyone? I’ll consider that scientific proof that everyone sees the wisdom in this practice. I believe we have a consensus: to not straighten up before a housekeeper visits is, in fact, insane. And a safety issue.



Posted by on August 31, 2012 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

28 responses to “It’s a Safety Issue

  1. ateachablemom

    August 31, 2012 at 10:30 pm

    Thanks so much for having me on your site! I promise to clean up after I’m done!

    • memyselfandkids

      September 2, 2012 at 1:16 pm

      You better miss!
      Thanks again and keep coming back.

  2. closefamilies

    August 31, 2012 at 10:53 pm

    Wonderfully funny! Loved it. Sounds like my husband and I when it comes to cleaning. Although now that I stay at home, I take it all upon myself. It’s better for our marriage that way too.

    • ateachablemom

      September 1, 2012 at 2:11 pm

      I hear you! Our marriage would improve if I could let go more or if my husband magically gained the superhuman compulsion to clean up. I’d prefer the latter! Thanks for commenting!

    • memyselfandkids

      September 2, 2012 at 1:17 pm

      She is a very good writer. I liked it too.

  3. Alyson

    August 31, 2012 at 11:20 pm

    Hilarious! Rings so true although I’m not naturally very tidy (my mess is ok though). The real safety issue is avoiding my wrath. I can’t believe my people haven’t figured that out yet. I’d pick up daily just to not hear me rant.

    • memyselfandkids

      September 2, 2012 at 7:56 pm

      Why is your mess okay? Double standard and not fair!
      I enjoy hearing a good rant sometimes – make me laugh.

  4. Lauren Heist

    August 31, 2012 at 11:53 pm

    I can relate! My husband-to-be is the MESSIEST person you will ever meet. His shirts are always untucked. His pants are always inexplicably tucked inside his socks. He leaves everything out when he cooks any meal. It drives me insane. I have been trying to cut down on the resentment by realizing that if the mess bothers me, I need to be the one to clean it up. That only helps about 60% of the time. The other 40%, I still stew in my resentment. If you learn how to let go, can you teach me?

    • memyselfandkids

      September 2, 2012 at 7:55 pm

      I think we husbands are getting a bad rap. I am neat, thank you very much.
      Good luck with your marriage.

  5. ilene

    September 1, 2012 at 1:17 am

    My therapists have always refused to point out Steve’s flaws, too! So unfair!

    I wax and wane in the messiness category, but I scrub my kitchen floor every night on my hands and knees. Oh, and if you wear shoes into my house or get the floor dirty, they will hear me yelling the next town over. Great post. But then again, when do you NOT rock?

    • memyselfandkids

      September 2, 2012 at 7:55 pm

      Yes, I also think she wrote a great post. I am a little bit afraid of your reaction to the shoes.

  6. hemouse

    September 1, 2012 at 1:47 am

    An interesting article

    • ateachablemom

      September 1, 2012 at 2:10 pm

      I hear you! Our marriage would improve if I could let go more or if my husband magically gained the superhuman compulsion to clean up. I’d prefer the latter! Thanks for commenting!

  7. dalrie

    September 1, 2012 at 2:34 am

    I would totally be one of those nuts who cleaned before the housekeeper got there. I hate people seeing my house a mess. Any people. Even housekeepers. Of course since I cannot afford one I’m not overly worried about it. 🙂

    • memyselfandkids

      September 2, 2012 at 7:58 pm

      I am not to that extent, but I think my guest blogger would totally understand!

  8. Angela Trejo

    September 1, 2012 at 3:42 am

    Mary..we are definitely related. I clean while the girls are playing. I hear, “Mom, why did you put that away? I was playing with that?” Me: but isn’t it easier to play with the toys when they are in the right spot?
    I was off work for the summer and I spent some of my “Free” time organizing! Trips to the Container Store!!!!! Yippppeee! (oh, yes..we are related).

  9. melissa.scholes.young

    September 1, 2012 at 11:50 am

    My hand is in the air! Of course I straighten up before the cleaning folks come. I want them scrubbing not tidying. I tell my kids if they don’t put their stuff away before the cleaning then they probably won’t be able to find it afterwards, which is mostly true. You sound completely sane to me 🙂

    • ateachablemom

      September 1, 2012 at 2:15 pm

      Thank you! I’ll take your vote of sanity and any invitation to come live in your house!! I say the same to my kids – it’s the only thing that gets them moving! Thanks for commenting.

    • memyselfandkids

      September 2, 2012 at 7:17 pm

      I never really do that – except my wife always says let them make the beds but I always do make them – somewhat. They don’t need to think we’re pigs.

  10. sagescenery

    September 3, 2012 at 6:01 am

    The problem is that…”opposites attract” stuff…gets us every time!! My husband & I are as different as night & day!! I’m also the “neatnik”…

    I’m trying to train my 22 year old son…he’s a great kid, but I say stuff to him like…”Honey, please let your future wife know early on, that all you really want to do all day is play video games…then she’ll know & plan her life accordingly!!” Ha!

    Wish someone had warned me!!

    Great post!!

    • memyselfandkids

      September 4, 2012 at 12:06 am

      My wife and I are actually both very neat. I didn’t realize how lucky we were.
      Good luck to your son and his future spouse.

  11. patgarcia

    September 3, 2012 at 11:36 am

    I can definitely raise my hand to cleaning before the housekeeper comes. My husband is a clutter mouse that keeps everything.

    • memyselfandkids

      September 4, 2012 at 12:07 am

      You all are funny. To be honest, I just don’t like the beds being unmade – or at least not completely.

  12. Recovering Wayward

    September 11, 2012 at 7:05 pm

    That photo looks exactly like my 13 year old daughter’s room…and no amount of cajoling or penalties seems to change it. She’s a pig. I hate it too. I’m all about order

    • memyselfandkids

      September 12, 2012 at 1:47 am

      I am not sure what photograph you are talking about.

  13. Dora Love

    September 16, 2012 at 4:39 am

    Thanks for liking my post. God bless you


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