After I was out of college, I rode with my Mom from North Carolina to Oklahoma and back to transport my father's mother who needed to move but refused to fly.
The trip game my Mom and me an opportunity to talk about things we had never before discussed. We got on the topic of how she raised us (me). I noted that the two things she harped on my whole life that made me nearly suicidal were "Stand up straight" and "Clean up your room". She laughed hysterically and finally was able to sputter that those were exactly the two things she thought she had never said enough!
When I was still at home, she did harp. Constantly. Looking back from today's perspective I totally get it. I would have been far harder on me than she was. My room was always a mess and I didn't care. I knew what was on/under every pile. And I was busy growing up. No time for tidy!
She tried various tricks over the years. She'd go through my room and put everything in a box (or several boxes) and I'd have to buy my stuff back with my allowance. We had a house cleaner who was amazing. I loved when she cleaned my room. BUT, for a while, Mom would not let her in there unless I had put everything away first. (One time Lilly, (the house cleaner) grabbed me the minute I got home from school and whispered 'keep your door closed. your momma told me not to clean your room but i did anyway. do not tell on me!' She was wonderful.
From the time I left home until 2005 my homes always looked like these two shots of my living room 'before' - only I tidied this room up for the photographs. Really it was awful. Messes everywhere. Always.
I was always at least an hour away from being able to have someone come over. And then it was shoving shit under and behind stuff. It was a terrible way to live.
In 2005, I gutted the place and got rid of most everything. (It was a boom year for Goodwill.) I hired a designer to create the home I have today and she did a wonderful job. From that time on, my house is tidy. Always. Anyone can pop in any time, no problem. And I would find it really stressful to live any other way.
Clean and tidy are two separate things in my book. Tidy means everything is in its place and surfaces are uncluttered. Clean means no dust, no spots, no grime, no dust bunnies. Clean carpet, clean surfaces, sparkle and shine. My house cleaner does that. And it is as important as tidy to me. She only comes every other week which, it turns out, gives me enough dirty to really really appreciate the clean when she finishes!
My Mom always had a thing about needlepoint. She thought it was boring and the result of all that hard work was boring. And... yet... about a decade after that road trip, for my birthday, I got this:
I hung it over the toilet. When she came to visit one time, after she left, I discovered it had gained a post it note: