Marie Kondo Says Her Home is Not Tidy, and I Feel So Seen
Kondo's admission shows that these days, a hero's flaws are no longer tragic
I've never met Marie Kondo, nor have I followed her on any meaningful level. Yet I've always felt that she is a kindred spirit. When she burst into our public consciousness with her philosophy of a clean home sparking joy, I couldn't believe there was someone else in this world who had the same vision of organizational bliss as I did…and she had a cult following! Yet, her admission earlier this month that her home is no longer tidy after having three kids struck me even more powerfully because it was so damn validating.
I've always felt I could breathe easier when things are in order around me. As a kid, I organized my closet with color-coded hangers according to season (blue for winter, pink for spring and summer). As an adult, in my first home before I had kids, my kitchen glass table always sparkled, my sage green walls were pristine, and the candles on my white travertine coffee table always stayed perfectly positioned.
My current home is a study of contrasts to the one from a decade earlier. For starters, there are four of us who live in it, including my two daughters, ages 8 and 3. I feel fortunate that we live in a comfortable home and have the means to fill it with things that kids love. The side effect is that our living room is usually an obstacle course of toys, clothes, random objects, and stray marks. My older daughter is really into art. Really.Into.Art. When she was five, she decided to adorn our kitchen chairs with hearts…using a Sharpie pen. It's only gone downhill from there. At one point, we had a trampoline in the middle of our living room. My husband calls our couches a biohazard. You get the picture.
At some point, I reframed my thinking around the perennial mess in my house. I thought about what it will be like when the traces of my kids' childhood slowly disappear from our home, and how spartan and sterile the space will feel. I realized that our messy home is also a sign of a happy one. It doesn’t mean I never cringe when I see smashed blueberries on my light wood floors once a week, but nowadays, I take the advice of the singing Elsa doll on the floor and I just "Let It Go."
Kondo's revelation felt inexplicably satisfying in its relatability. Of course, responses to her admission ranged…cries of "validation" to "betrayal" rang out from the Twitterverse to Vogue, while others sprang to her defense. The journalist in me loves the "story" in it - that someone who was once superhuman turns out to be simply human. To me, the overwhelming response shows how, in today's world, the most effective influencers not only bring followers on their journey, but the true power of their words lies in how their audiences experience their messages. Ultimately, Marie Kondo has taught me a seminal lesson in storytelling rather than in finding joy - the most credible cultural "heroes'' are ones who make their audiences feel seen.