why I won't clean my house for you

June 22, 2015

 

My house used to be spotless, especially if I invited you over. I would spend the two hours before you came over for lunch, cleaning it. Picking up the clothes off of the floor, stuffing the toys in the toy box, throwing the shoes under the bed, folding the sweaters in my closet (you know, just in case you wanted to look in my...eh...closet. But, if you did look, you would find my clothes color coordinated, hanging in order from darkest to lightest...but not because you were coming over..ahem...ok. Moving on.). I would also spend large amounts of time straightening the essential oils in my medicine cabinet, wiping down the shelves in my fridge, dusting the ledges of the bookshelves, vacuuming, sweeping, mopping and then I would have this great chicken salad waiting for you when you arrived.

Fast forward three years later...I had just moved to this magical area called the driftless (with equally as magical people living here) and a lady I barely knew, invited me over to her house for lunch.  As I stepped into her house I noticed two things. First, her house was a mess. Second, I not only didn't care, I found it refreshing. It didn't make me uncomfortable, but instead, fostered a trust in her that what I see is what I get. There is no hiding behind soap and sparkles at her house. In fact, her house looked like mine did when I didn't have company coming over...

 

It looked lived in. It looked loved. It looked...well...real.

 

How silly is it, I thought, to live in a house and be comfortable with how it looks day in and day out, only to spend hours organizing and scrubbing it for guests, just so I can pretend that I live like this all of the time?

 

Welcome to my perfectly spotless home that parallels my perfectly spotless life...

 

Did I fool any of you? Can I hide my imperfections behind a shiny countertop?  Will my sadness go away because I scrubbed the cabinets? Will the arguement I had with my child the night before disappear with dusting the light fixtures? Mopping the floor? Will the stress of putting on a 'perfect' house make you like me more?

 

I hope not. And I hope you don't feel the same about my visits to your home. Please, leave the toys out on the floor and let me step over them. This will tell me your children are happy. Keep your dirty dishes in the sink. This will tell me you are well fed. Don't make your bed. I will know there are more important things to do. And please, please leave those tiny handprint smudges on the windows. They will make me smile. But most importantly I will know you are real, like me. I will know that we set our priorities on connection, not cleanliness. I will know that you want me to get to know you...not this idealized version of you.

 

How great would that be if we were all just a bit more real with each other?

 

Can we start today? Can we talk about the fight we just had with our husband two minutes before you came over? Can we acknowledge the rough time we are having parenting our children? Alone? Can we just say, life is generally pretty good, but right now? Well, this sucks. Can we not pretend that everything is perfect all of the time? Can our house just be an extension of the little imperfections that life has to offer?

 

I am in. Are you?

 

So...feel free to stop by my home (but call first because I am kind of an introvert). But know that if you do come over, you can be damn sure I won't be cleaning my house before you get here.

 

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