Over the last week and a bit, I've gotten to spend time with a number of friends. Almost all of them started with apologizing for the state of their house.
Toy clutter, reno clutter, I can understand the discomfort but it's never bothered me. Toy clutter is the price of life with kids (and I'm frankly suspicious of any tidy home with children) and reno clutter is temporary.
I've stopped inviting people over the age of 10 into my house. Because I'm embarrassed of how it is. I have no sense of smell, so I'm paranoid about that aspect. I've had toileting accidents soaking into my floors, ceilings and furniture for over ten years. I clean them all up as thoroughly as I can but I suspect the sheer number of them must be contaminating the house.
I have so many holes and patches in my walls that it looks like a World War II documentary. Or like we're a violent and abusive household, which is a more pertinent worry.
My furniture is old and worn with any number of stains. It bothers me every time I look at it and yet I'm locked in with it because of the dual challenge of finding the money to replace it and knowing anything new I buy will be quickly reduced to the same state. Until we have a good toileting solution, there doesn't seem to be much point in even trying.
When people talk about their "disgusting" homes, I want to tell them what disgusting really is. But I don't, because I don't want them to think I'm disgusting. This isn't something I live with because I'm too lazy to care or because I'm not willing to put the effort into cleaning or because I have some mental disease which prevents me. It's something I have tried (and continue to try) every option professionals and my imagination can come up with. None of it has worked.
I know there are other parents out there living with this shame. Maybe they can't invite people over because their child has everything arranged precisely and it's not worth the tantrum. Maybe they also have grown children who are not toilet-trained. Maybe their children are violent and it's simply too risky to bring anyone into their home.
A person's home is supposed to be their pride and joy. So it's a real shame when it turns into more of a family secret.