Mom Guilt … Will it work?

November 17, 2012

I am not the perfect June Cleaver housewife. Never claimed to be. I’m not a hoarder either but I could see that I walk a fine line between becoming OCD or a hoarder … so please do not mock my mess or you could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. That being said, my mess has order (to me any way). It rarely contains actual trash though when I purge I usually can catharticly have bags full to donate or dump.

When the children were little I used to make the excuse that I cannot get to my stuff, my rooms, because I was always cleaning up after them. Always is actually the incorrect word to use because time spent cleaning was relatively low on the scale of how I spent my day. But when I did devote time to cleaning it was to clean their rooms, their bathroom, and the public rooms (kitchen and living room). This meant when guests were over they at least had a clean bathroom and the door to my bedroom remained closed.

I have tried rewards. I have tried punitive rewards. I have tried bribes. I have tried allowances. I have threatened to throw things away. I have pleaded with them that if their room was not up to the Chief’s standards HE was going to force me to 1. throw their things away and 2. make me give up my retail therapy!

My children are not stupid. They have figured out that if they can only outlast my angered shouts and screaming “You live in a pigsty” that I will eventually accomplish in the space of 30 minutes what I had been screaming at them to do ALL afternoon.

I cannot fault them for exhibiting the same tendencies as me. They come by it naturally. But there are things that I just cannot grasp. The amount of honest trash that my oldest leaves in her room like a trail of destruction is staggering. Wrappers of all sorts and crumpled, useless papers. TRASH. Broken toys. I challenge anyone to go through my piles and ask me what something is for I and I will be able to tell exactly what project/scrapbook I am saving it for. But you will not find trash.

I am almost to the point where I will have to make sure that anything in our house does not come in a wrapper–food, toy, clothes, you name it. Gum wrappers are the worst. And the culprit who buys her the most gum is my mother!

I have recently taken to saying, “No, no, don’t bother. Your maid is here. I will do it.” Because apparently screaming “I am NOT your maid!” had very little effect.

Tuesday before the Chief and I left for the awards dinner, he left a very prominent note for T1 that her bathroom (T2 has hers as well) was not in an acceptable state and that she needed to remedy the situation. Wednesday it looked pretty much the same when we got home. At least the babysitter had T2’s bathroom or mine to use. And honestly, I did not expect the babysitter to be the heavy–what was she going to do? Enforce “You can’t go to scouts if that bathroom is not clean”? That’s not fair to the sitter.

Thursday it looked the same. She had huge chunks of time both Wednesday and Thursday to bang out cleaning this bathroom. I would also like to point out that there has been a tube of toothpaste and a stick of deodorant on the floor for the entire week and I want to know which child is not brushing and starting to get a body odor funk. Thursday night while the Chief and I were meeting with two of T1’s teachers she and her sister were at the book fair planning their purchases. I bought several books for T1.

Friday I had company coming over. I could have cleaned a little more on Thursday to spare myself the frenzied cleaning I knew I’d have. But I didn’t. The Chief and I are a good team. He cleans the kitchen while I work on other rooms. He vacuumed up the greyhound hairballs. I spent almost 40 minutes scrubbing down T1’s bathroom. My guests were to arrive 15 minutes later and I still hadn’t gotten to the dining room or the living room. As I said, I spend so much time cleaning their stuff that I never get to mine.

Thankfully my guests ALL ended up 45 minutes late. I ate lunch with them in my gym clothes.

And my hands hurt. You see I was on antibiotics for a sinus infection and that means no Enbrel. I’m going on 18 days without a shot. Some may ask, you’re complaining about your hands hurting but you post that you can bench 130 lbs? There is a difference between grasping a bar and pushing with all your might for a few seconds to keep that bar from crushing you and the contortions scrubbing for 45 minutes can do to your hands. A HUGE difference.

About a year ago as I was finally starting treatment for the PsA the Chief had a conversation with the girls about their obligations to the family and that it would mean helping more as I may have physical limitations. It seems to have fallen on deaf ears. Afterall, I’ve been their maid for 11 years at this point.

When T1 got home from school, I said, “I used to make it an excuse to say I was always cleaning your rooms and your bathrooms and couldn’t get to my rooms. It was an easy excuse. Today, it was reality. I spent 45 minutes cleaning the bathroom you were told three days ago to clean. 45 minutes I was supposed to be using cleaning up the living room and dining room for my guests. And you know what? It hurt. My hands are killing me because I haven’t had a shot in over two weeks. You had time Wednesday and Thursday. And I bought you books. You owe me now. I cleaned your mess. You owe me.”

The Chief says, “Let me know what that Mom Guilt gets you… Good luck with that.”



  1. Here’s what worked at Casa de Enchanted Seashells. I would give him a time, say 3pm (the exact time is your call) and we’d make an appointment to meet in the whatever area that needed to be cleaned, bathroom/bedroom, and we would do it together. As we were cleaning and sorting and organizing, we had the most amazing conversations. We laughed, he opened up about teenager things and It turned out to be a great benefit to straightening up, no yelling, no threats. I tried to make it kind of fun, just like when he was little and we were picking up his blocks, puzzle, etc. And now I look back that he’s no longer here and those were great times we spent together. In fact, when he was cleaning his house last year, we worked on a cleaning project together just like the old days, and spent so much time laughing and remembering stuff that it brought us closer again. That’s just my rusty brain idea, try working together and making it fun!

  2. […] But you can read that rant about cleaning my daughters’ bathroom … and no, the Mom Guilt is not working and we have moved to threatening she can’t go on a mission trip (I am actually […]

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