Martha Stewart, Nigella Lawson, Marie Kondo – I aspire to be these women, who are goddesses in their respective fields of housekeeping, cooking and organising lives. And I do think I have gained a measure of their greatness, not by being hardworking and disciplined, but by being a lying, idle wife and mother!

Ever since I was a child, I have been known to be neat and well-behaved. I owe it all to my parents, who instilled in me a strong sense of conscientiousness. “Cleanliness is next to godliness”, they would say to me before and after every meal, so as to encourage me to clean up before eating and clear my dishes after I was done dining.

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It was a dictum that I kept close to my heart throughout my growing years into my adulthood. Unlike a typical teenager, my room was pristine and my clothes were always folded and stacked away. In fact, I was so concerned with neatness, my friends called me an OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) princess! It is a title my hubby, Nathan* agrees with – during our wedding, I was a bridezilla and took charge of Every. Single. Thing. When it came to the design and furnishing of our house, I was penny-pinching yet nit-picky on the finest details. Luckily, Nathan was understanding and played the charming, calming husband to all the poor souls who were subject to my bossiness.

I kept up my immaculate ways even when my first borne Kayden*, arrived a decade ago. Though it was a bit of struggle, I managed without a nanny or housemaid. But when I had Kaylene* three years later, I gave in to employing part-time help just to make sure the house was still in relative order with two toddler terrors living in it. That was the start of my slippery slope into slothfulness.

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I had loved having house parties – I would often invite friends, colleagues, neighbours and family members to my “Queendom” (as Nathan called it), not because I enjoyed socialising but because I wished to show off my home! I was houseproud and glad to have guests come over, be awed at my well-kept abode, partake in delicious homecooked food and gush at my domestic prowess.

With Kayden and Kaylene, it became difficult keeping up appearances. I realised how convenient, practical and easy it was to hire part-time childcare, housecleaning and food catering services. Soon, I came to rely on these services – all I needed to do was to look all dressed up and gracious when accepting compliments from the guests shamelessly!

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In just a couple of years, I went from “OCD-mum” to the lazybones of the family. I would complain about house chores, find excuses to skip doing them, and even guilt Nathan and the kids to help out instead. I was a slob – I would snack on the sofa and sweep the crumbs onto the floor; leave half-drunk beverages around without coasters or lids; and even piled clothes to form floordrobes in the bedrooms! I did these, knowing that a professional housecleaning service was just a phone call away.

My lazy and humble-bragging ways came to an end three months ago when I invited several of my important clients and work colleagues for afternoon tea. I had often boasted to them about my home and they knew how proud I was of looking put-together, organised and appearing as the “perfect” female boss, wife and mother. That Sunday, while in the midst of the fanfare of a party well-attended, an entire housecleaning crew of three and my part-time nanny arrived at the house gate. In my sloppiness, I had forgotten that I had contracted them on a fortnight basis to take care of the home and kids!

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I froze and my face turned beet-red when I saw Kaylene let the cleaners and the nanny in through the gate, all of them filing in through the door in full view of the guests as though there was nothing amiss. Nathan and Kayden immediately jumped into action and ushered them to the kitchen, with Nathan coming forward later and apologising to me and the guests, lying that it was he who had decided to call them in for today to help “my perfect homemaker” be “the perfect hostess” so that I could focus on keeping the guests happy. For the rest of the day, I kept up a smiling face even while I was withering away inside because of guilt and shame.

My days of being OCD – and also indolent – are now over. Instead, I spend quality time with Nathan and the kids, making sure that family life is as organised as we can (with a little help from the professionals, of course). Rather than pretend to a false idol of domestic bliss, I prefer a clean conscience and be humbly “home-proud”.

*Names changed to protect privacy.

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