Public Service Announcement: The FULL Monty *Clarified*

01.24.09 | homemaking madness | 42 Comments

A while ago there was a meme going around where people (women, as far as I know) posted pictures of themselves first thing in the morning. I think this was supposed to make us feel better about how real women really look, but mostly if made me feel fat, and creased, and like I have cheap highlights.

Anyway, you’re supposed to look like you just woke up when you JUST WOKE UP. But what about your house? If you’re a good home manager (as opposed to a good homemaker a la Martha Stewart), if you’re efficient and organized and motivated, your house theoretically could look pretty good in the morning.


Once my house looked so good in the morning that even when I took pictures of the great bead flood of 2008, Sharla felt bad enough about her own kitchen that she had to leave my post forthwith and go clean up. Well, Sharla, have I got a surprise for you.

There have been days when I have shined my sink, and great is the rapture of the fresh start that greets me in the morning.

This morning, however, was not such a day.

This morning, when I stumbled from my bed at 9:45 (I read a book last night, sue me. And Sally knows how to work the remote and the kids can all scavenge for food, which is both solution and problem), this is what I saw:

Remember that things always look slightly <i>better</i> in pictures.

Remember that things always look slightly BETTER in pictures.

I’d point out what’s wrong with this picture, but close-ups will better serve the interests of full disclosure. (Only, notice the three garbage cans in the middle left; two of those belong in the bathrooms upstairs. I emptied them, but, uh, didn’t quite get them back upstairs. In three days time. Oh, and the box above the trash cans is full of books from the library book sale. Because our house is just so EMPTY.)

But first, the opposite view:

Sports bra (dirty), overturned diaper basket, laundry (clean), fort (rather modest in scale).

Now on to the good shots:

Will not attempt to describe in this short caption space.

(L-R) Dried up mac and cheese (originally homemade, with whole-wheat noodles, for what it’s worth) from lunch yesterday; Watercolor set (not at all dried out); Bin of stuff from the van (which I cleaned out in order to fit the seat back in for our new carpool, and which someone apparently mistook for the pajama and/or snow clothes bin); Crusty peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (from an old bottle of peanut butter, so I’m not worried about salmonella. The kids finally made themselves sandwiches last night after accepting that Mom was ignoring them to futile-y wrestle her minivan post into submission, and Dad napped on the couch); Yogurt and juice boxes (which we save for special trips / nights when Mom and Dad are as good as gone); Glass jewelry beads (which Sally and her new friend, see carpool, made into 74 bracelets and necklaces yesterday afternoon).

Hide your eyes if you have a food handler's permit

Avert your eyes if you have a food handler's permit.

At this point Dick wailed that he was starving. Since he is hard at work freelancing to support my new Arctic Circle habit, and since I was hungry by now anyway, I interrupted my urgent picture-taking to make pancakes. And then I had to take a picture of this lovely tableau: Still-life of Batter, Hairgel, Mostly-Empty Rubbermaid Container, Craft Supplies, and Elixir of Life. (In the far right in cellophane is a fake-ceramic treasure I rescued from the DI (thrift store) last week. It figures prominently in my new series One Parent-Volunteer’s Junk: Another Parent-Slacker’s Prize.)

Once fortified with righteous carbs and fresh buttermilk syrup, I returned to my anthropological quest:

All that sugar in jam is a real good preservative, right?

Jam doesn't really need to be refrigerated, right?

(L-R) Stuffed animals and food preparation go together so well (“Eating and driving, it’s as handy as skiing and doing your taxes. If my dinner reeks, I’ll put it in the trunk”*); When will those darn kids learn that we clean up after ourselves in this house? (How long has that banana been out?); More yogurt, Dishes from the late-night bacon and eggs meal Dick and I had once Oliver and co. were trundled off to bed.

"It's fun to make dirty things clean and shining again."*

"It's fun to make dirty things clean and shining again."**

(L-R) Coupons I will save until they expire, never remembering to use them; Yes, Susan, the dishes in the dishwasher are clean, WHAT DO YOU TAKE ME FOR?; Plant growth chart of Sally’s that I’ll use in a WFMW post to demonstrate the proper way to raise curious, creative, DIY children; Dishes from Thursday night (or was it Wednesday?); Fetid smell from (long-)standing water; Empty (sob) brownie pan; Goo Gone for the bird poop on Dick’s coat that turned out to be gum from the bus.

And finally, a few shots of the floor, though you’ll have to trust me on the ice-melt-and-sand drippings everywhere from our winter boots, and the crumbs and beads and general unhealthiness:

Because the trash can was SO FAR AWAY.

Because the trash can was SO FAR AWAY.

This is why it pays to keep a clean house. People are slightly more likely to throw trash away if the entire house does not look like one big dumpster. (I think. At least, I imagine that would be a benefit of habitual tidiness.)

I think somebody TRIED to clean this up.

I think Susan TRIED to clean this up.

This watercolor rinse water wouldn’t be so bad if A) it hadn’t taken me longer to photograph it than it would have taken me to wash it up and B) it hadn’t been there for at least a week.

There you have it: What my house really looks like, before the makeup and primping and good lighting.

And in case you’re thinking that a messy house is a fine trade off for a rich creative life and a stunning personal appearance, I shall inflict my much-revised-to-no-effect minivan post on you sometime next week, and here is what I really look like, first thing in the morning (and often in the afternoon, and sometimes (when Dick is REALLY LUCKY) in the evening):



*A Clarification, of sorts*

I don’t want to be defensive about this — in fact, I think I owe it to myself to own this mess, to not shrink or be ashamed of it. I’m the one who’ll be cleaning it up later, so who cares if it’s messy for a couple hours or a couple days while I read Barbara Michaels’ gothic mysteries? I want to be free, FREE I tell you, from housewifely expectations. There are 4 (okay, 3 — Spot, at 2 1/4 years-old is a bit young) other people at my house who are more than welcome to pitch in ANY TIME.

But a few notes to clarify: (1) This happened today, Saturday, so no school was missed and Dick was home and capable of (if not interested in) supervising the kids while I slept in. (2) My house doesn’t always look like this. It certainly does sometimes, though, with today being a bit extreme, which is why today was a good day to take pictures. (3) We had a maid for over a year when we lived in Cairo. It was a lot more complicated than I thought it would be, for my little bourgeouis self. Will post more on that later.

Thank you for the kind comments. I was surprised by how much of a reaction it got. I would love to start an entire carnival based on True FULL Monty Pictures of Whatever Mess One Needs To Own, but seriously? My comment anxiety is NOTHING compared to my Mr. Linky-Carnival anxiety. If you do write a FULL Monty post of your own and link back here, please tell me about it, and I’ll add your link to the body of this post. (That sort of link is “worth” more technorati-ally and google-analytically speaking than a Mr. Linky link anyway.)

Also, I would love to see your FULL Monty pictures — in posts or emails. I certainly understand the reluctance to post these online. There was a time not too long ago that I would have hated to have my mother-in-law see that her grandchildren sometimes have to negotiate crusty noodles and curdling yogurt. But somehow these anxieties are slight compared to the truly important things in life (like comment anxiety :)).

*Some Kind of Wonderful

**Anne of Windy Poplars

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