Once when my daughter came home from a play date, and I asked my usual, “So how was it? Did you have a nice time?”

To my surprise, she said, “No. Their house was too messy. I just didn’t feel very comfortable over there.”

And our house is…

I took a quick inventory of what was strewn across our own living room floor: an apple core, toys, somebody’s underwear, Cheerios, a crushed cardboard box, light sabers, books, crayons, mismatched shoes, and general debris blown in from the outside. We could have easily all plunked ourselves down on the couch and played a rousing game of “I Spy” what with all that clutter. That is, if the couch cushions weren’t already being employed in building a fort.

Her room is no better. The dress up box manages to explode daily, and dirty clothes routinely find their way into the clean clothes drawers, which have a hard time ever remaining shut. How can a seven year old be so immune to her own mess, yet so highly sensitive to the messes of others?

“Our house is pretty messy too, you know,” I couldn’t help but point out.

“Ya, but it’s our mess. Our mess doesn’t bother me.” No kidding.

But she’s right. Apparently, it doesn’t bother me too much either. Why am I so tolerant of my own filth? How is it I can walk by the same pair of dirty socks in the hall five times before I’ll bother to pick them up? If I saw a wrapper on the sidewalk, I’d pick it up right away.

I routinely go through the three stages of “dirt denial.” Stage 1.) I’m always distracted with the kids. Somebody always needs something–urgently. How can I possibly get ahead? 2.) I don’t want to waste the precious moments of my kid’s childhood scrubbing the floors now, do I? And finally, 3.) I just plain resent the fact that the only maid around here is yours truly.

The truth is, I need to just suck it up and clean.

Why? Because my oldest has a friend coming over here today after school. That means I have exactly 4 hours to get my dishes washed, the laundry folded, find the source of what’s making that smell in the kid’s bathroom, and get the vacuum humming.

The last thing I want is for this friend to return to his own sparkling abode and declare to his sweet, clean mother that our house is unfit for human habitation.

Kids tell all.

Margaret Anderson is a BYU graduate, returned missionary, freelance writer and mother of four small children. Read more at www.jamsandpickles.wordpress.com