the messier the house, the better the friendship.

bestfriends2(we dress them alike because we can)

A few weeks ago, my friend Christina and I were sitting on the floor in her living room, watching our boys attempt to share blocks and toy cars. As usual, we were simultaneously chatting about everything and nothing.

I made a comment about my house being a mess, to which Christina gave me The Look.

“I don’t believe you.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Your house is never messy! You have one of the most uncluttered houses I’ve ever seen,” she said.

I laughed. Clearly she had never popped by my house spontaneously.

“It IS a mess,” I protested, “My kitchen is a disaster. There are Christmas presents that still need to be put away. Dishes everywhere, Target bags everywhere, laundry everywhere. I swear! IT IS A LEGIT MESS!”

She still didn’t believe me.

“I’ll tell you what,” I said, “I am going to text you a picture of my kitchen when I get home.”

So I did. I went home, threw the diaper bag on the floor just like I always do, and snapped a picture of my messy kitchen.

She replied: “Disaster area!! Kiiiiidding. It does make me feel better though since mine looks similar most days of the week.” (Mind you, I have NEVER seen Christina’s house messy. Not even a little bit.)

The next morning, in an attempt to even the score, Christina texted me a picture of one of her messy closets. I immediately one-upped her and sent a picture of our office, which was littered with boxes, shopping bags, paperwork to shred, and other miscellaneous items.

It was kind of a joke, but a refreshing one.

For reference, Christina and I see each other 2-3 times a week, sometimes more. We live walking distance apart, and our boys are good friends. We go to barre class together and get pedicures together and meet up at the park with our toddlers in matching outfits together. We talk about motherhood, marriage, and friendship; we share babysitters and crockpot recipes and date night recommendations. We are very, very good friends. If friendship bracelets were still a thing, I would have already made one for her.

But what does it mean when your very, very good friend has never seen your house a total mess?

Let me clarify: Christina has seen my house less than perfect many times. I don’t scrub the floors when I know she’s coming over, but I usually do the dishes and attempt to put 15 of the 25 toys scattered around the living room back into the wicker baskets where they belong.

The funny thing is—I like a little mess when I come to your house. If I see a stack of mail on the counter or a small pile of laundry in the corner, I breathe a sigh of relief. Oh, you’re human too? You leave mail unopened for three days on the kitchen counter too? Thank goodness.

The truth is: I love seeing your mess but I hate showing you mine.

Sometimes I think of friendship as a process in peeling back layers. When we first meet a new friend, it’s almost like there are 100 layers between us—imagine 100 sheets hanging between two people. With time and conversation, shared secrets and confessions, the sheets slowly start dropping.

Eventually, there are only 50 layers.

Secret, confession, secret, confession.

37 layers.

Secret, confession, secret, confession.

23 layers.

When you purposefully allow your friend to see your house in a state of total mess, you are intentionally dropping a layer.

There’s practically a scale for this in my house. If you’re an A-list friend, a friend who has seen me without makeup, I’m much more relaxed about the house being a little messy. If you’re a friend who only comes over twice a year, I’m probably vaccuming every room before you walk through the door. My scale is simple: the messier the house, the better the friendship.

But what comes first, the chicken or the egg? Do we let our good friends see our mess after a solid friendship is established? Or do we let the people who see our mess become our good friends? Does friendship lead to the mess, or does the mess lead to the friendship?

I don’t know the answers, I’m just thinking out loud.

What I do know is that in the day to day grind, I’m making a new resolution to leave some cheerios on the floor for anyone who comes into my house. Just two or three, to make everyone else feel more at ease. When you come into my house, I want you to see the stack of mail on the kitchen counter, the coffee mug on the nightstand, the toy cars on the bathroom floor.

This is where I live. This is my home. This is me.

And sometimes I’m a straight up mess. 

Challenge of the day: text your best friend a picture of your messy kitchen. And then e-mail it to me ( I’m going to do something fun with it.


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26 Responses to the messier the house, the better the friendship.

  1. Harmony says:

    My sister and I did this once with pictures of our kids’ rooms and our bedrooms. We live far away and called each other after texting and had a great laugh. I love peeling back layers; it makes mine seem more normal.
    Harmony´s last blog post ..Long Distance Stories

  2. Kelsi says:

    Ok this is absolutely perfect, all of it so true!
    Kelsi´s last blog post ..Our Weekend

  3. Mariah says:

    You are speaking to the hearts of more women than you know. SUCH good truth. I love your candidness, and I love that I’m not the only one who intentionally leaves a little mess, just to be a little more real.
    Mariah´s last blog post ..Monday Hello!

  4. I am pretty sure I tear up every time I read your posts and its not because its sad or anything, its that it seems so thought provoking and real

    I was just talking to my friend the other day about this as she was eating my homemade soup straight from the pot as I was making it. She asked “do you mind? I really like this soup”, and I laughed and realized that I LOVED that about our friendship. But it is so true all that you said.

    She can eat soup straight from the pot, and I leave an absolute disaster and somehow we are all the more comfortable with the laundry sitting there laughing at us.

    I wouldn’t leave a mess for 99% of the other friends I have. Making the effort to be a little more real.

    Thanks for your amazing posts…and by amazing I mean TRULY AMAZING!!! Please post 15 times a day 😉 thanks!



  5. Jenn says:

    I absolutely LOVE this. It is SO true. For me, at least. Yet I never fully realized it until now. Thanks for opening my eyes.

  6. Jelena says:

    What a great post!

    I did the same thing with my friend three years ago, I send her the picture of my bedroom…
    we laugh and rather invested our time for our friendship.
    Jelena´s last blog post ..THANK YOU

  7. Jess says:

    My office looks exactly like that! (But seriously worse… I’m talking borderline embarrassing!) You really know true friendship when you start letting your closest friends actually CLEAN your house… talk about tearing down walls!
    Jess´s last blog post ..four months

  8. Christina says:

    You described this perfectly friend, so glad you decided to share this!

    PS: I think we could totally rock friendship bracelets.

    PPS: Our boys are seriously the cutest.

  9. Lauren says:

    My favorite part about this whole post is your screenshot at the end, and how you comment “I am totally going to blog about this.” HA. love. Your creative process in action 😉
    I have a neatness obsession in my house where I don’t like things cluttering my field of view, but I am less than fond of actual cleaning. When it’s just me and John in the house I blissfully ignore the true dirt hiding around my home, but I swear one guest or stranger walks into my house and suddenly my uncluttered yet dirty counters are screaming at me. I more often than not start cleaning my counters while entertaining guests… strange habit/compulsion. My dad is a reallllllly neat person (and keeps everything perfectly clean.. no hidden dirt in that house), and growing up he always told us that keeping our room and cars clean was a matter of respect to him and my mom. While I am not naturally as clean conscious as my dad is, perhaps my cleaning compulsion for guests is an attempt at repeating the show of respect he ingrained in us…. or maybe I am just crazy 😉

  10. Allie says:

    I saw this article this week and your post made me think of it again:

    Our place tends to be the place we go to have impromptu lunches after playdates at the library or the park, so we have had a few times when friends have come over and there was no “cleaning up” time. Learning to be ok with that 😉
    Allie´s last blog post ..Around Colorado: Steamboat Springs

  11. Kiki says:

    YES. You have no idea how much I loved this post. It’s so easy for us to just sweep things under rugs, stuff things into our corners/closets, or just vacuum them up. But it’s the tough stuff, the vulnerabilities, and the deep thoughts that can really deepen a friendship. And I think it’s something that us bloggers need to keep in mind, too. Wise words, Ashlee!
    Kiki´s last blog post ..WHEN A VERSE CLICKS.

  12. Bethany says:

    Oh how I love this post. It’s so true. I wouldn’t mind seeing messes in my friends’ houses but feel the need to keep our place immaculate. But with my closest friends it’s not that much of an urgency. I’ve never thought about friendships in terms of the layers you describe, but I like it. I like to think about peeling off friendship layers with a few of my good friends..
    Bethany´s last blog post ..geocaching: how to do it and why you totally should

  13. isn’t this the truth.

    love what you said about a million layers between people. i’m all about dropping those layers. 🙂
    Andrea Worley´s last blog post ..Our Christmas High Light Reel

  14. Hannah says:

    This is a great post and so true for me! I used to run around like a crazy person before guests came over and hide any spare clutter in my wardrobe. Then we moved overseas to a culture where people drop in all the time, unannounced and will just hang out for ages (this was in Tonga), which was so refreshing. You just “do life” together, in one extended community and there is no pretence, no need for show.
    A really helpful attitude, now that we have a baby and our house is ALWAYS a mess!

  15. Callie says:

    So true!!! When my baby boy was first born, I broke the nozzle on the vaccum because I was VACCUMING THE WALLS before my girlfriends came over. They arrived and I was all in a tizz because I’d broken it and hadn’t finished. They just laughed at my half vaccumed wall and broken cleaner. It’s a running joke now. Please don’t call your house clean until you’ve vaccumed the walls! Xx

  16. kate says:

    your posts are always so spot on. this one especially. my best friend is always welcome, even when my house is at it’s worst (which is more often then i’d like to admit!)

  17. Susannah says:

    I love this!!! And yes, I agree with your friendship algorithm. 😉
    Susannah´s last blog post ..Happy Blogiversary! {$200 Giveaway!}

  18. Erika says:

    I love this! We put so much pressure on ourselves to be perfect and have the perfect house, but it’s refreshing to know that we’re all just doing the same thing. I’m convinced that it’s IMPOSSIBLE to really have a perfectly clean house with small children around. 🙂 At least that’s what I tell myself….

  19. Kim says:

    I love this idea! Thanks for sharing.

    My dad, who grew up in seminary school, can’t stand messes. He’ll scrub down the entire house just when I come to visit. He’s a bit bonkers about cleanliness. It’s a good thing my mom balances him out so well!
    Kim´s last blog post ..Super Bowl Dogs

  20. Julie says:

    yes! just yes, to the whole post. with extremely (EXTREMELY) neat in-laws, i feel like my house has to be sanitized-level clean when people come over…but taking the plunge to let my friends see my mess is a good challenge 🙂

    i’m new to your blog, and i’m loving your honesty in your posts!
    Julie´s last blog post ..umm, how do you dress like a teacher?

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  24. Maybe I’m weird but I’m really openly messy. Like, all of my friends know about it. I’m not “dirty” but I have a lot of clutter, borderline-hoarder status! It’s so bad that when my sister comes to visit, she ends up cleaning the whole house… I don’t mind 😉
    Stephanie Loudmouth´s last blog post ..Loudstagram :: Weeks in Review

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