When some old friends dropped in recently, I’m sorry to say I wasn’t as happy to see them as I should have been. We were just in the process of cleaning up after dinner and these people saw this. They saw the gunky dishes we hadn’t gotten into the dishwasher yet. They saw that we actually eat in our house!
Even though our society has become far more casual in the last few decades in regards to what we wear, it seems to me we continue to have an uptight and far less than casual or even realistic attitude towards our homes. When we have people drop by, there are those of us who think our homes are not acceptable if there is any evidence that we do things in them. I know a few women who get upset if you see so much as a crumb on their counters or a cup on their coffee tables. For those of you who, like me, have trouble meeting such high expectations, here’s an idea. Turn in your home for a duplex. One side of this duplex would be for living in, but the other side would be just for “show.” When a guest stops by, he could quickly be guided to the unused side where there would be no uncleaned dishes, papers left out, grooming things, or even unflushed toilets because, well, nothing is ever done there. You’re right, that would be just a little wasteful and expensive. Most of us can’t afford the luxury of a second unused place. It would be cheaper if we all began to accept that people are going to do things in their houses. I saw a little sign that maybe we should all hang: It read, “Sorry about the mess, but we live here!” Living in our homes is the whole point, right?
I still remember an article I read about a woman whose ex-boyfriend and his fiance paid her a surprise visit, catching her in a mess of toys, papers and dirty lunch dishes. She was mortified. It wasn’t until after the couple left that the woman reviewed the situation and decided she should be happy that she’d done some good in the world that day. Had she and her home looked perfect, this young, newly engaged woman might have wondered if she could measure up to her fiance’s apparently flawless ex-girlfriend. And since perfect people are hard to find, the ex-boyfriend might even have wondered about his decision to marry someone else. As things were, the engaged couple left happily contented, even giddy. So the next time people stop by and my house looks messy, I’m not going to worry about it. I’m just going to be happy to see them and remember that by letting people see my family and me the way we really are, they’ll be more apt to let others see them the way they really are.