Monday, January 23, 2012

The Way It Is

Let's make a pact to stop apologizing for how messy our houses are, mkay? No matter what it actually looks like and no matter what you say about it, people will think whatever they are going to think about your house. Why in the world do we feel the need to apologize to an outsider for the way we choose to live inside our own houses, anyway?

I had two experiences with this in the past week, both where I stopped by people's houses unannounced. I'm going to share them with you even though the subject of one of them reads my blog. I hope she's ok with it; the two situations happening one right after the other really struck me and I wanted to talk about it.

Situation #1: Young mother of one toddler. Brand new house, decorated very cute. This house was spotless. SPOTLESS. No dust anywhere, perfectly clean white carpet and not a cluttery item on any surface. There were 2 small toys lying on the living room floor. When I complimented her on how cute her house was, she gestured towards the toys and said, "I'm just so embarrassed that you're seeing it when it's such a DISASTER!" She apologized twice more for the "mess" within the course of our short conversation.

Situation #2: Mother of 4 young boys, busy Friday night following a week where not only had the mother been particularly busy, but most members of the family had been sick at some point during the week. The living room where we sat to visit was a little messy--appropriately lived in. On top of that, we had caught the mom already in her pj's for the evening.

As we went in and sat down and enjoyed our conversation, she never once said anything to apologize for her appearance or that of her house. I want to point out that I even noticed this--NOT because I thought she should apologize, but because it was such a stark contrast to the situation the day before.

As I left house #1, I felt so uncomfortable with our conversation. I didn't know this girl well, but our conversation didn't do anything to help me feel like I knew her better, or- to be honest-to want to. I felt like if her standards were that high, she must be judging me as well, and suddenly felt very uneasy that I had gone to visit her in my scrubby, post-work outfit and windblown hair. I couldn't imagine sitting in her living room and feeling like we could have a warm and cozy chat. I wasn't thinking about the people who live there at all, but about all the stuff, cold and formal.

As I left house #2, after our visit, all I could think is how much I loved and respected this woman. Even though her house and it's appearance are important to her, she knows that making people feel loved and welcome is worth so much more, and that is where her energy and focus were. She has worked hard on making her house beautiful and it is decorated so cute, but after we left that particular night, I couldn't tell you any details about how her room looked, but I do remember the spirit that was there. Sitting in her house and chatting was the very definition of warm and cozy.

For those of you who know me, you know that me publishing this is a little hypocritical-I am the very queen of excusing my house for not being perfect-but I'm going to try my hardest to remember my friend the next time someone knocks on my door. Thanks for being such a good example to me!

9 comments:

Mother of the Wild Boys said...

Just what I needed today. Thanks. :)

Shafferprincess said...

I'm gonna come knock on your door today . . . :)

Paisley Cinnamon said...

I'll be waiting with smile and a cup of cocoa...

Lora said...

Love it! And so true. Does it really matter what state the house is in? No kids yet, but seriously, how does anyone have a spotless house and children at the same time? Inconceivable! I don't even have a spotless house now and it's just my husband and I. And do you know what... not sure I care that much! ha!

ShazBraz said...

I do care that my house is clean at least sometimes. And at least not board-of-health dirty anytime, but I don't really care most of the time that it's not perfect. I LIKE my house...I do! So why do I (and most women I know) care so much when someone knocks at the door?

tawnya said...

I know I've said it, but I think I care less than most. Or maybe I just never have anyone stopping by...

bythelbs said...

I wish you could come feel warm and cozy at my house as long as you don't mind picking rice off your socks. (There was an incident this evening.)

Paisley Cinnamon said...

Would that I could, Lbs. Would that I could.

And I'm gonna need to hear the rice story...

Lacy@uphillandsmiling said...

ah well... I just can't ever seem to be "ready" when people show up. My house has NEVER looked clean. It's just who I am......sigh.

I agree with your post, though. Some houses are so CLEAN they feel un-cozy and I feel un-welcome.