A few weeks back I asked my friends and family through social media to send me pictures of rooms in their homes as they can typically be found. Not-so-shockingly I didn't get a lot of volunteers. I heard a lot of, "No way. My house is too horrible!" But after pleading and making promises I don't intend to keep I finally received enough to compile an article called "The Messy House Project: 10 Moms Share Pics of What Their Houses Really Look Like Most of the Time."

It gave me a great deal of pleasure making fun of them, especially super clean Betty, who is my sister in real life. And yes, that is her typical home. And in defense of Betty, who received a few unkind comments, I can attest first-hand that she doesn't sacrifice time with her children to support her cleanliness habit. She has three gorgeous, grade school children, works full-time, goes Pinterest crazy, is super hands-on with her kiddos, is currently training for a half marathon, and is also currently battling breast cancer. Don't feel bad about yourself. She was obviously born with super powers we mere mortals don't possess. Plus, she has a wonderful and supportive family, ahem. I called her "Betty" in the article because I teasingly call her "Betty Martha" in real life for her 1950-esque homemaking abilities. These are just her strengths, please don't put her down for them. I mean I can, though.

Betty aside, a lot of Facebook readers were unsettled with the depiction of the messy rooms as "normal." In that it wasn't normal at all - it was above what any mother should be expected to maintain. Some mothers were hurt, and I want to offer my sincere apology.

comment - bad

I hear you. I can't walk barefoot in my home without applying baby wipes every now and then.

The article was meant to be fun and uplifting. I can't and won't please everyone with everything I write, but had I anticipated the number of responses that echoed the same sentiment - "this is not normal!" - I would have found a different way to make fun of the people I love.

Some mothers still found the humor (whew) and also made me laugh. Thank you for sharing your comments, too.

comment 1

Yes, I admit - much better!

Mothering's Editor sent out a call to Facebook readers to share pictures of your normal. Not-so-shockingly, again, we didn't get a lot of submissions, but the few we did show a truer picture of normal, I hope. Here they are.


First up, the clean laundry mountain. If closets have a purpose other than housing the dirty clothes mountain, I'm unaware of it.

IMG_2830 (1)

So, why doesn't a folding machine exist yet? I feel like that should have been a priority long before now.


As soon as I saw this picture I just started shopping. I want that donkey. I want that stroller. I want those connecting mats. I could play in that mess, no problem.


This picture made me giggle because the first thing I noticed is that the toys are all pushed under things to make a walking path. But you know, at least you can walk.


You know what they say: "A messy kitchen means full bellies."


Seriously though, what is it with couch cushions that children just can't stand for them to be kept in place? (Look closely or you might miss the baby!)


You can tell this room was once orderly… and then came baby.


A note from this mama:
"[In the first article], I saw toys strewn across floors but wondered: where are the piles of papers? The boxes waiting to be broken down and recycled? The random clothes hangers the baby grabbed last time I was doing laundry & stashed God knows where, but are now poking out of odd places? The dirty socks my husband has suddenly decided are acceptable to throw anywhere? The book I took down from the shelf last week in an obvious moment of delusion, thinking I would actually get a chance to read it? The bins that need to go in the attic, just as soon as I get through that pile of papers? Art projects? Craft supplies? Party supplies? I can't be the only one who takes forever to get those organized and put away with the little one underfoot."
What I have learned from the "Messy House Project" is that

1. people don't really want to share pictures of their home

2. all of our homes look disastrous, most of the time

3. we're all feeling pretty guilty about it.

Our time is in constant demand. If it's not being demanded by our children then it's by our duties or partners. I'm letting pans "soak" right now and writing this article instead. The title of my first article promised you relief from that guilt and you were let down. I hope you take solace in the outpouring of voices that promised you your home is still normal.

And for the Bettys, your home is okay, too! Just be prepared to host all of our playdates and holidays, mmkay?