Hi friend, I’m so glad you came over! Please come on in. How have you been? Can I get you something to drink? What’s that? Oh, yes people live here. You are too funny. Yes, I am positive five people, including three little kids reside in my home. Those are in fact vacuum lines on the carpet. . . and all the pillows on the sofa are perfectly fluffed. It smells clean in here? Yes, I guess it does!

No, no of course you can invite me over to your house. Oh my goodness, I hope I can come over soon. Do you think I care what state your house is in? Okay, let’s sit down. Here’s your coffee (the mug came straight from its appointed cabinet because, you guessed it, I unloaded the dishwasher this morning). Now let’s talk.

I want to share something with you, because I value our friendship. I keep a clean house. I do. It’s like, one of three things I’m good at in life – the other two being consuming Oreos and quoting lines from Arrested Development.

But it doesn’t mean on any level I care if your house is actually a “disaster” as you just described. 

Here’s the thing – there are other people like me, and we keep our houses clean for several reasons. It’s a priority for us, and it’s a stress relief for us. Do you ever have those moments when you think your heart is literally going to explode out of your chest? Me too, and one way I cope is by picking up my Swiffer and going to town on the kitchen floor. Are you ever awake at 1 a.m. and cannot stand tossing and turning another time? Me too. That’s generally when I get up and start dusting. I simply feel better after seeing my reflection on the table tops. 

I take satisfaction in a clean house, and it makes my heart happy. It’s also a way I show love and service to my friends and family. Think I made the house clean to impress you? I promise that is not the reason. I wanted you to come in and find some rest and peace in the order of things. My children will still happily run amok during our visit, and the noise will be deafening, but hopefully there’s something in my efforts that exudes service, both to them and to you.

Now please look in the kitchen and see the snack I made for us is either store bought or simply came from a box and required a cup of water. Cooking is not my gift, but I hear it’s your gift, and that is amazing. I really hope you’ll let me savor that talent in your home one day. 

We all have unique ways we make those around us feel loved. I do not ignore my children or constantly nag my husband in the pursuit of a clean home, but my family does consider cleaning as a family virtue and we pitch in together to achieve it. That’s our house culture. It’s not everyone’s way, and I find it incredible that each home has its own energy and aesthetic. 

Can I share something else with you? I was kind of nervous you’d look down on the food I’m serving. Really? You aren’t? Yeah, I guess food is always best when someone else provides it. Ha, that definitely makes me feel more relaxed. Thank you.

It’s amazing how different we all are in the gifts and capabilities we pour out to the people we love.

It’s also amazing how quickly we assume others will judge the things we lack more than savor the things we can give.

Let’s make a promise to one another. Let’s be comfortable in one another’s homes – no matter their states. Whether it’s clean with crap food, or a disaster with delicious delicacies. At times we’ll even be a hot mess all around. Regardless, let’s just be comfortable. When we open our homes, we invite people into our most treasured and vulnerable spaces. This is a gift and it needs to come with no strings attached and no judgements passed.

So yes, I keep a clean house. Now toss that perfectly fluffed pillow aside and make yourself at home, Friend.

Lauren Cunningham

Lauren is a wife, mother of three kids, thinker, and blogger. She and her family live in the middle of nowhere and pass much of their time digging in the mud and hunting for the perfect stick. Lauren is passionate about building a community of parents committed to raising compassionate, thoughtful children. You can find more of Lauren's writing at Things I Teach My Children and follow her on Facebook.