I’ve been in my new apartment for a month. My first utility bills are starting to roll in and my mail is starting to reflect the change of address. My fridge looks like a human who eats food lives there and the cat has already left me a “present” in every room except one. I’m clearly moved in. What I’m not, however, is unpacked. Yep. I have been in my new place for a month and there are still boxes that have not been opened, donations that haven’t been donated, and my basement is an unspeakable world of horrors.
And yes, Yule Goat is still on the mantle. I am winning at adulthood.
To be fair it’s not as though there is clutter or even a lot of boxes. There are just a handful of them lined up behind the couch and they all contain books that I am still trying to sort out shelves for, and the bags of books and things that need to leave are shoved in my van so they aren’t under foot. The basement has no excuse, but my house isn’t bad. It’s just not finished and it feels a little bit like a betrayal. I had promised myself that, once I moved out of the tiniest of one-bedroom apartments, I’d be a more accomplished housekeeper. It would smell nice and be tidy and I’d have a strict schedule for when I would do what so my apartment would always be beautifully clean. I also promised that I’d decorate and everything would be just keen.
I’ve hung a few pictures. I cleaned the bathrooms once. But this place isn’t any more together as any other apartment I’ve ever lived in. I just sort of cleared things up and went about my life without taking any moment to get all houseproud and make things fancy. So why I am beating myself up about Yule Goat and boxes still being a part of the every day of my new house? Why am I letting myself feel stress about some boxes that aren’t in anyone’s way (and that the cats love to sleep on?)
I know a lot of people who have this stress. They worry about how tidy their home is and make crazy apologies if someone stops by. Every single one of these people who carry the house stress with me are female. None of my guy friends seem to worry that there are boxes neatly stacked somewhere in their homes. They’re more worried about food in the fridge, but women seem to care more. Or at least feel like they should care more, which is my case. I actually function just fine with the boxes, but some lizard part of my brain screams at me as a failure when my house doesn’t look darling. I’m an empowered, feminist woman, and I’m beating myself up over whether or not some boxes got put away.
I think it’s time to stop this weird homemaker guilt game. To that extent I’m going to create for myself a checklist of home-related things that are truly important and I need to be doing. If I manage to get some boxes cleared out in the process by happy accident, even better. I’m just done letting myself feel guilty for sitting on the couch and taking a breather instead of being Suzy Homemaker. Let’s be honest here: no one likes the smell of Pledge that much anyway.