When Messy Moments Seem Like They’ll Never End

Nobody really prepares you for just how disgusting kids are. And how quickly you’ll fall right in line with the nasty. Like, why didn’t anyone tell me about that mom reflex that automatically catches vomit pouring from a baby’s mouth? Or that thing moms are inclined to do with their perfectly clean hands and t-shirts when there’s a runny nose but no tissue? Why do we so easily reach for the cleaning products when the projectile poop finds its way to the changing table… and the bed spread… and the floor… and the wall… without so much as a blink when it happens?

These things are standard mom fare. I cop to catching and cleaning up my fair share of baby bodily fluids for years without complaint. Mainly because my understanding was that the disgusting wouldn’t last always.

But then, there is my 9-year-old.

And when I walk into her room on any given day, I’m convinced that either:

A. The spirit of Linda Blair and her split pea soup found a home in one of my child’s Teddy Bears.

B. I somehow took a wrong turn and ended up on one of those side streets next to the Port Authority bus station in Manhattan, which enjoys quite the audience with bums, crackheads, meth addicts and your lower quality ladies of the evening.

C. She’s trying out for a star turn on an episode of Hoarders.

I can’t figure out for the life of me why the child’s room consistently looks like a cop is going to show up with yellow crime tape at any second. I mean, Nick and I are generally neat people. Her big sister—total neat freak. Her big brother… well, he’s a 19-year-old man-boy. We won’t bring him into this conversation.

But yeah, I just figured that since I don’t have any more babies, that my messy kid moments would be up by now. And sadly, I’m coming to the realization that my youngest daughter is a slob. And probably will be for quite some years to come. No matter how much we bribe, beg, threaten and punish her over her messy room.

Her daily wreckage almost seems predetermined—as predetermined as the almost OCD-level, 12-year-old neat freak across the hall. We’ve come to the conclusion that some kids in the house are going to be disgusting and absolutely blind to horrific messes. And others will need cleanliness and hygiene. And it doesn’t seem like a parent has any doggone thing to do with it. You just pray that if you have two, you can bat at least .500. If you have more than two, hopefully the batting average will stay around .333, which I’m told is a pretty good average in baseball. You just don’t want to be batting zero.

And every day you wake up, you hope something will click with the kid and they will pick up after themselves and they’ll care.

Or the producers from Hoarders won’t come knocking on your door.

And that you have the strength not to give up—that you can continue to assume the state of blind denial you need to enter that kind of messy madness, and that God will answer your prayer for the child’s future camp roomie, college suitemates, and, poor thing, her husband.

Until then, we’ll just have to take it one messy moment, one messy day, one messy week at a time.

So you know: I recently partnered with Clorox to spread the word about its BleachItAway.com program. Yes, I received a check for this. No, they’re not paying me to say nice things about their products. And clearly, my little one’s life-long messy moment is totally my own story. Unfortunately. Have a messy moment of your own? Share it on BleachItAway.com for your chance to win $25,000!

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Denene Millner

Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.


  1. Ugh! With two teen girls (daughter and niece) in my house right now I am unfortunately batting…ZERO. They are both equal parts messy. The other day I was looking for my brush in my niece’s room and found a gatorade bottle in her underwear drawer. (Let that soak in for a minute) Right. I don’t get it. I am not a neat freak but I am, as folk like to say, “Funny about my house.” I like it to look a certain way at ALL times. My daughter is a pure slob. Like you I have bribed and yelled and punished and rewarded – Nothing. You know they are lazy when I am holding on to two gift cards worth $150 each that they can’t have until they show some improvement in keeping their rooms clean. Nothing. And the killer part is they both think that they are so cute. When they are all dressed up in the street and folk say “Oh you all look so cute!” I want to jump in and be like…you should see their nasty rooms!


    • Denene@MyBrownBaby

      Baby? I promise you that if I even began to recount the crazy stuff we’ve found in my little one’s room, you would swear I was lying. Some days, I’m seriously afraid to go in there out of fear something might jump out at me. Like, seriously. I’d tell you to take those two gift cards and hire a cleaning crew to sweep their rooms clean, but then they would stay that way for, like, two days. Tops. Trust me: I know this from experience…

  2. I felt your sentiment reading this post on the heels of spending my Friday night cleaning up a bathroom where my toilet clogged and subsequently overflowed during the height of my oldest son’s stomach bug (I will leave the very gory details to the imagination). I wouldn’t be able to do that for any other person on this planet, but for him, well, it was at least barely tolerable!

  3. OMG! I thought I was the only one that had a slob! I put my DD out of her room because she would not keep it clean. She sleeps on her 2 1/2 yr old brothers futon and guess what? Her room is still nasty and she doesn’t even sleep in there. Finally I just told her that she is not allowed in the room period! Now her brothers room is a mess! So frustrating.

  4. So funny, because just yesterday I asked some other moms of boys how to get the pee smell out of my bathroom and we were all in giggles by the end of the conversation–turned out EVERYONE could relate.

  5. OMG! I’m a victim, I have a 18year old daughter. As I do my frustration agony of anxiety attack as I walk pass her room daily. I pray that she gets it together cause I keep telling her what man wants a triflin woman and I constantly ask her where do you get this from. Clearly both here parents are totally the opposite, glad to know I’m not alone!

  6. My stepkids have no sense of having a clean room. The 14 year old (girl) thinks that she can leave gum stuck on a plate or on the tile countertop in the kitchen. Her room is a landmine and she sleeps on teh couch when she is here where she is making that look like a junk area too. As much as I love my dh, I’m really tired of living in a place where the kids don’t get it or care.

  7. This post should be in a parenting Bible. I cannot, for fear of the judgement, reveal what we have found in our son’s room. I honestly don’t even know HOW he gets it so messy. He has nothing on the walls anymore because they all became parts of forts and then were destroyed. There is sawdust — SAWDUST — on the floor. And when he does finally clean it, it is messy again within a day. Argh!

  8. @lakeMom.
    you took the words out of my mouth.

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