A Letter to My Mom About Dust and Other Domestic Ventures

Dear Mom,

The time has come for me to finally, reluctantly, shamefacedly (okay, you get the picture) admit that I need your advice. Here are some questions I’d love for you to answer about when I was growing up:

* Where was the clutter? Seriously, I don’t remember toys strewn across the living room or school papers and mail in a disheveled pile on the dining room table. Where did you even put the mail? I never saw it. My house looks like a burglar went through it. Every day.

* How’d you keep everything so clean? There weren’t stains on the carpet or toothpaste streaks in the sink. Dust never gathered on the end tables or dressers for us to draw pictures in. (May I point out that in that aspect you robbed us of something totally fun that my kids get to enjoy now?) I remember seeing you vacuum. I have no idea when you did everything else.

* How did you manage to serve hot home-cooked meals – with all of us sitting at the table – at least twice a day? I couldn’t survive without pre-cooked bacon and microwavable pancakes for breakfast or frozen pizzas and chicken nuggets for supper. And many mornings the kids eat breakfast on the couch while watching cartoons. I’m too busy making lunches, checking backpacks, and remembering to put my make up on for work that I usually end up eating my breakfast in the van.

* How in the world did you get us to behave? I remember the occasional spanking, talking-to, or having TV taken away, but that’s it. I’ve tried spanking, time out, banishment to the bedroom, taking away privileges and toys, and I even have a nifty “sticker star” chart for good behavior! And I still have a six-year-old daughter with more attitude than Snooki and a four-year-old son whose mischievousness rivals that of Dennis the Menace.

* Last, and most importantly, how did you get us to let you and Dad sleep in on Saturdays? The leave-the-cereal-out-and-turn-on-the-TV-by-yourself method hasn’t worked for my kids. If they’re awake, I’m awake. EVERY Saturday. AT 5:30 AM!!! You drugged us, didn’t you?

Your Bewildered and Less-Than-Domestic Daughter

Edit: My mom answered!! See comments. πŸ™‚


  1. YES! Boy, do I understand that, except I have one thing to add– for ME to have a clean home (not saying this is what your mother did) I spend my ENTIRE day doing it. Literally. I don’t sit and play with the kids except for a few moments at a time. I have to be extremely disciplined, much more than I really want. On the days when my house looks great there is no time for email, texting, phone calls, reading except to the kids before nap/bed, or sitting. I am on my feet all day, and pick up the same toys a hundred times, put books away at least 3x a day, and my “spare” time is in the kitchen cooking. My mom had a home similar to yours when I was growing up, and I’ve decided she never slept. I prefer to sleep- whatever my kids will let me have! πŸ˜‰

  2. kksorrell says:

    I agree! It takes several hours to actually clean – like the weekly cleaning chores, then to pick up all the toys several times, then cooking, plus maybe laundry, and the day’s over!!! Maybe I have a selective memory, or maybe we just didn’t have as much STUFF back then, but I simply don’t remember my house ever being messy! πŸ™‚

  3. Jean says:

    Okay, here are all the answers:

    1) I picked up toys in the living area and put them in a laundry basket so we could at least walk through the room every night. You and Will had a lot of your toys in your room. In KC there were in the basement. The mail went on a shelf in the music room (den) in KC. No idea where it went in TX.
    2) I cleaned house once a week, including dusting. It was the way it was in the dark ages. You kids can come to my house now and write in the dust on my tables!
    3) I don’t know. I ask myself this question a lot. I was younger then. I wasn’t having to get up and rush off to work when you were little (except for 10 mo. in KC). It was the expected thing to do.
    4) You almost never misbehaved. Will was another story. Unfortunately, his father dealt with his misbehavior. I regret that now.
    5) I remember setting out cereal for you and putting milk in the fridge for you to get out when we lived in TX. After Will came along, I had to get up early again. When he got bigger, you two would bug each other, so I had to get up to keep the peace. I DID NOT DRUG YOU, but I did pray that you would both sleep in!!!


  4. kksorrell says:

    Mom, Congratulations on your first (I think) comment on my blog! Though I know you read them all. πŸ™‚ Well, you had your turn doing all the hard work, and now I guess it’s my turn. The toys-in-the-laundry-basket thing is a great idea!

  5. Karen C says:

    Love this post, and how sweet that your mom answered. Wish I could ask my mom many things like this. You had a wonderful mom, obviously, that is the answer, but the answer is also that you ARE a wonderful mom. Very mich to be admired, I can tell from reading all of your posts. Your kids are lucky sweeties, indeed!

  6. Cyndi Hail says:

    Karissa, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this post!!!! I am SOOO there with you! I constantly have a pile of clean unfolded clothes at the end of my bed and a pile of dishes in my sink. My living room is currently littered with toys. My kitchen counter has a pile organization going right now for mail, Brendan’s school papers, etc. I hate that! And, you can definitely draw on the dust on my TV stand. I have wondered many times, “How did my mom do it?”

    I keep telling myself that my kids will not remember how clean our house was but how I loved to spend time with them. Still, I want them to learn the value of a clean, organized house, too. Some weeks I stay on top of things really well, and I’m so proud of myself. Other weeks (most weeks actually), I feel like I’m just treading water. Know that you are not alone, dear friend!

    Loved your mom’s reply. Yay, Jean! ;o)

  7. What a great post! I grew up in a similar household and am trying not to have a guilt complex about not keeping such a neat and tidy home now that I’m a new mom. Love the part about your daughter having more attitude than Snooki…that is one of my fears for my daughter as I was pretty sassy growing up. : )

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