My house screams at me. It screams to clear off the kitchen counters, to put away the clean clothes, to organize the shoe collection in our entry, to gather up the scattered toys, to sweep the crumbs up, to place the throw pillows back on the couch, to clean off the table—you get the idea. Everything in my sight speaks volumes to the state it does not want to be in, for the chaos it is imposing.
Keeping home is a labor of love and never of balance for me. Everything that is cleaned, made, or organized will always get dirty, unkempt, and disorderly. It’s a constant state of give and take. And some days . . . it’s all take. I give the house to my kids as I let the state it becomes stay as is until a future day when my exhaustion starts to dissipate.
Most days, I have a clean and tidy home at least once for a brief moment. I love this moment. I bask in its glory. Then, I let it go and wait for it the next day. I have learned to both cherish its arrival and embrace its departure.
I’ve matured enough in my homemaking to find some sort of contentment amongst the consistent mess.
This has taken years, moves, and additional babies to stretch me to this point. I was never a perfectionist with my house, but clutter was definitely removed or tucked away out of view. I am now OK with clutter here and there. Not great, but OK.
The house’s screams have been quieted down to background babble, and I can get by with my children’s joyful and tearful voices out voluming the house. It has become a background noise I can manage.
But here’s the thing, I cannot have conversations with background noise. I can’t focus, let alone hear or comprehend what a person is saying when there are other noises within earshot. If I’ve ever spoken to you in any sort of crowded atmosphere, I’m faking understanding what you’re saying. Sorry, but it’s the truth.
I’m guessing at anywhere from 30-50% of what you are telling me. Sometimes I say “Sorry, what was that?” But I’ve learned it really annoys people when you say “What?” multiple times in a row. I’ve resorted to a polite facial expression and nod that encompasses a lot of conversation scenarios.
I hate doing it. It’s all fake.
I want so badly to know and understand what a person is saying. I want to be able to show them I care about the things they are saying. I want to be honest in my caring for what they are speaking of. I want to contribute in a way that shows this. I genuinely want to hear and understand people.
That, my dear friend, is the real reason why I need a heads up before you come over.
I know you’re not here to see my house or judge how I’m parenting my kids. I know you’re not here to assess my living situation and report me to authorities or some sort of charitable society. You, my friend, are here to see me—to visit, to laugh, to cry, to catch up on all the things.
You don’t care how messy my house is . . . but I do.
It’s not out of pride, but out of a love and respect for you. I want my home to feel peaceful when you come through the door. A place where you can quickly see an empty hook for you to hang your coat and see where the shoes are arranged. I want you to walk in without having to look down on the floor for fear of what you could step on or in. I want my couches to invite you to have a seat, not to have to clear stuff off.
But, mostly, I want to show up for you.
I want to be able to have ears to hear exactly what you are saying. To be able to understand your heart and share mine too. I want to have eyes that don’t wander around to all the misplaced things and dirty messes.
We will no doubt be interrupted many times by my children, who I know you love too. Those noises are out of my control, and I’m more than fine with their excitement to see you.
But this house? This is in my control. This is a noise I could silence for you, for me, for this special popover visit. But I can’t do that if you don’t call first.
I know how long I can maintain a tidy house, and if I know a time you’re coming, I can swing it, absolutely. Even a 15-minute heads-up can give me plenty of time to whip this house into shape, to silence its loudest noises. I want to show up for you. Please let me.
Texting works too!