A few weeks ago, a friend stopped by for a minute. She's not a heart-to-heart friend, she's more of a 'neighborhood' friend-- someone I've known for a long time but isn't an intimate friend. She's the kind of friend for whom you tidy up the house. I knew she was coming-- but she was only going to be here for a quick second. And since I was in the middle of turning my flare-legged pants into skinnies, (!!!) I didn't want to drop what I was doing and tidy up the house.
She popped over and chatted for a minute (in between C's crazy, inappropriate, attempts for attention) and Mase made the comment, "Look at this place. The great thing is that it will all be magically cleaned up when I get home". (ha ha) My friend laughed and commented that her house is always messy-- after all, it comes with the territory when you have little ones sharing the same space.
After she left, I thought about M's comment and our semi-clean but totally un-tidy house. I looked around at the books on the floor, laptop half open, pile of mail on the counter, dishes in the sink, shoes on the rug, and random disarray. Just two days earlier, the laundry was caught up, the house was dusted, the bathrooms sparkled... even Charlie's face was clean. And now, here we were two days later with a very "lived-in" house.
My first reaction was one of culture-induced embarrassment and a little shame. Why can't I keep a clean house? How hard is it to just get it together-- I mean, other people do it and they work outside the home all-day-long! Why does my house never look like Pottery Barn? (Aside from the fact that we're too cheap to buy things from that store) And then it dawned on me..... because that isn't ME.
Now don't get me wrong-- I LOVE CLEAN. And though I'd like to say that I don't notice clean in other people's homes, I'd be lying. Because I do. If I'm at your house, I notice if there's pee on the toilet or toothpaste in the sink. I notice if you have three-day-old towels on the floor or crusty stuff stuck to your fridge shelves. But that's about it. I don't notice the "stuff" that makes a house a home-- the toys and books and recently folded laundry. In fact, I actually like it.
When I'm in homes that host a pile of mail on the counter or a tangle of phone and computer chargers strewn on the arm of the couch, I feel comfortable. I like walking into homes and seeing some old People magazines tossed on the coffee table and maybe a mug or two of cold coffee sitting on the counter from the morning. These are the houses that feel like homes. These are the places where I don't feel judged. These are the places I feel comfy and accepted for me-- just as the hosts are expecting me to accept them and their lived in homes as they are.
Sometimes, when I walk into immaculately cleaned homes for a random playdate, I immediately start playing the shame game in my head. I start looking around and noticing everything that this house has that ours doesn't. I notice the stainless steel and the clean windows and the clutter-free counters. I notice the perfect decorations and the professional photos and the toys placed in trendy wicker baskets. I start to ask myself if what I have is good enough, if what I do is good enough, if the way I can't seem to prioritize cleaning is okay enough to be friends in this circle. These friends are not the judgy type, this all comes from me-- from deep within-- although I'm not entirely sure why. And honestly, as much as I love being immersed in sparkling, clean, organized places... it's just not something I'm capable of maintaining on a daily basis.
So I have made the decision to create a 'comfy' home. You're welcome in Spahnville and I hope you feel comfortable here. You might find clutter on the counters and laundry in baskets and half eaten pears in a bowl on the floor. Other days, you might find dust-free surfaces and folded laundry--it's a crap shoot really. But you will definitely find a non-judgy space, lots of welcoming arms, a caring community, and a place to just be yourself. (And hopefully, the bathrooms will be clean and the fridge won't have too much crusty stuff inside.)