Nobody Likes a Hypocrite

According to my teenaged daughter, I am a hypocrite.

This isn't the first time she's called me on my hypocrisy, but for the most part, I rarely feel any guilt about it. Pardon me if I wear eyeliner and don't want my 14 year-old kid wearing it. I have no desire to be the parent to a raccoon-eyed heathen who looks like she is a hooker in training.

But last night, as my boys fled for safety, the two of us once again engaged in what is becoming a routine power struggle; she hurled the dreaded H word.

"Hypocrite," she seethed under her breath, half daring me to hear, half hoping I wouldn't.

All of this over the fact I informed her that if she wanted to have her girl friend spend the night this weekend, she'd have to clean up the pig sty otherwise known as her bedroom.

Pardon me for not wanting some stranger's kid entering my house, having to spend her night in filth and squalor and then run back home to tell her parents how the Redneck family doesn't believe in keeping a tidy home. I live in a rural, small community. These people talk. About everything. And on a slow gossip day, the fact my kid likes to throw half eaten apple cores under her bed and keeps stacks of dirty dishes lined up on her desk like a hoarder in training, you suddenly have the recipe for me quickly becoming a social pariah.

I manage that quite nicely on my own, thank you very much, without any help from my slovenly children.

"You're always lecturing us to keep things real. Telling us not to pretend we are something we aren't! Well I'm not tidy and my friend knows this! And you should see all my friend's bedrooms! They are way worse than mine! I'm too busy living life Mom, to clean my bedroom." (Picture me rolling my eyes so hard I hurt myself upon hearing this.)

Did I ever mention my daughter didn't start to speak until she was well past 2 and a half years old? At one point, we actually thought she might be deaf because she was so slow to verbalize. I agonized for months over her quietness, convinced there was something wrong with her.

Then one day, she opened her mouth to speak and clearly, years later, she has yet to close it. It is in moments like these, I miss those days of silence.

Most of the time, I encourage and appreciate when my children engage in pointless arguments with me. I don't agree with the old saying, 'kids are meant to be seen and not heard.' I'm not raising sheep over here. I like the fact my children are becoming critical thinkers, even if it means being called out on the carpet every now and then for my reasoning. My children keep me on my toes as they grow into smarter adults than I will ever be.

I just thought I'd have a few more years before they actually became smarter than me.

"Keeping it real does not mean being lazy. Pick up your trash, sort your laundry and make your bed! For crying out loud, I'm not asking you to wash your walls with your tongue or anything!"

Her argument held no merit with me; doing simple chores is expected in our house, it's called part of being in a family. We all have our own separate duties we perform to keep the peace of having five people under one roof and not throttling one another. If I can keep my room clean as I juggle being a freelance writer, blogger, mother, wife, taxi driver, accountant, personal chef, nurse, therapist, and human being then I expect my older children to do the same.

Fair is fair. And nothing in life is free, baby. Consider a clean room your rent for being allowed to live in this palace of ours.

Fric could sense she was losing an unwinnable battle and quickly retreated to her inner sanctum, garbage bag in tow. After a few minutes, I felt a little bad about coming down on her so harshly so I knocked gently on her door and asked to come in.

She was kneeling beside her bed, arms extended as she fished crap out from under her bed. She looked up at me warily.

"Look kid, I didn't mean to hurt your feelings, but you really need to keep this room clean if you want to invite people into your space and share it. Otherwise it is kinda gross. And no one wants to be known as the gross kid, right?"

She nodded in agreement. I helped her for a few minutes and then stood up to go check on the boys.

"You know Mom, you are worse than me."

"Really, how so? My bedroom is clean."

"Maybe, but every day you invite people into our home, into our lives, every time you write on the internet. You post pictures of us, and yourself and sometimes even the house. You do skype interviews and television segments from our kitchen."

Clearly she was going somewhere with this and I had a feeling I wasn't going to like where she was headed.

"You tell some of the story, but you don't share everything. You edit. You tell us to keep things real, to be ourselves, but I have never read a post of yours stating how you left a week of laundry unfolded on the kitchen couch."

"No one wants to hear about that stuff kid. That's not interesting."

"But it's real. The unvarnished, honest truth. Wouldn't it be better if we just let our friends know we were slobs and find out if they liked us anyways?"

I looked at her, and I swear I could see the gears in her brain spinning like her hamster's exercise wheel used to in the dead of the night.

"Nice try kid. Clean up your room or your friend doesn't come over," I laughed as I walked out of her room and into the kitchen.

"Well you can't blame a girl for trying!" she called back.

She's right. Not that I'm going to tell her I'm a hypocrite. That would be like shooting myself in the foot and handing her the gun to beat me with it afterwards. I'm guilty, internet. I don't tell you everything, like the fact my dog yakked on the floor five minutes ago and I'm walking around it, hoping it will magically disappear while waiting for the kids to get home in a few hours to clean it up. Because dog vomit? Gross.

And my bed? It hasn't been made in days. Why bother? I'm the only one in it other than my puking dog and I like wrinkled linens.

My bathroom needs to be cleaned. Like now. And yet I have no immediate plans on scrubbing that toilet. I'm hoping I can convince a child to do it for me.

I routinely invite you into our lives and I never tell you that I need to clean the leftovers out from the refrigerator.

Hypocrisy, thy name is Tanis.

So welcome to my kitchen. The counters are clean, the dishes are done, but you can't sit on my couch.

Because it's covered in laundry that I need to fold.

I should also share with you, since we're being so honest, that I haven't showered in two days and I'm sitting here in a ratty bathrobe typing this.

Welcome to my real life. A life filled with a house that constantly needs cleaning and a woman who constantly falls behind in getting it done. It feels good to be honest, to keep things real. But it feels even better knowing my kid's bedroom is finally clean.

Hypocrisy for the parental win.

Now excuse me, I have some laundry to avoid folding.