You Cleaned Up For a Stranger, But Not For Me

Cleaning Up for Strangers – Living with Mess

Company stayed with me last weekend – and arrived EARLY! I planned on the last two hours for the final sweep of dishes, papers, vacuuming, bathrooms etc but my guest arrived early. So he helped clean up a little and noted that this is really the way I live and was glad to have seen it. I didn’t like being caught and I reflected on other similar situations.

My son was just out of high school and we had moved to a smaller home where our belongings didn’t fit. They overflowed everywhere while we sorted and piled to give away, keep and throw out. The back porch became littered and it was time for company. We went in to a massive clean up cycle. Matt felt like we had betrayed the family by living with the mess until we wanted to ‘look good’ for the world. Well, yes and no. I didn’t anticipate the full force of his hurt and anger until he had piled the back porch with furniture up against the Great Room sliding glass doors blocking the arboreal view with a mess. It was an act of controlled rage that had to be remediated immediately. But his feelings were the most important focus of my attention. How could we clean up for strangers/friends and not for us/him?

I was recently reminded of this when I assisted a family with an intervention with a father who was a questionable hoarder. All the children were/had been unhappy with Dad for a dozen years, ever since the divorce and the beginning of the piles in the hallway, the piles on all the surfaces, the piles of paper, clothes and his collectibles. And with piles came debris and mold and a dirty home. The adult children had had it and suspected Dad was a hoarder so called in a local specialist. Unknown to the children Dad hired a few people to come in to the home to hide the debris and clean up the house. By the time D-Day arrived, the house appeared clean and organized as long as you didn’t open a closet door.

Now, the home had flowers and pot-pouri. The daughters were furious at the attempt to deceive a stranger and that Dad had cleaned up for a stranger but not them.

Have you ever done this? What motivates you to keep your home clean for the enjoyment of your family?