Saturday, June 20, 2009

Messy House Vs. Good Times

Upon browsing another of my usual blogs, The Simple Mom, I came across this recent post that really struck a chord with me. The author, Tsh, quotes one of Erma Bombeck's columns, "If I Had to Live My Life Over", which she wrote when she discovered she was dying of cancer:

“… I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage. I would have talked less and listened more. I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained, or the sofa faded. I would have eaten the popcorn in the ‘good’ living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace. … I would have sat on the lawn with my kids, even if it meant grass stains.”

I have a tendency to resist inviting people over to our house because I'm concerned it's messy or dirty or whatnot. And it usually is. I've gotten better about my housekeeping - a bit - over the years, but more so I've decided that I'm not going to worry about it as much. Either my friends are going to forgive me and enjoy being around us anyway, or we'll go hang out someplace else, or maybe we just shouldn't be friends. What it comes down to is that those are precious times to be spending together, and how many years of those enjoyable moments did I already lose because I was too lazy to clean house, or too afraid of the judgment of others? It's not worth it.

Same thing with using the "good stuff". It's true. They say when you're doing your wedding registry, to go with things that you can use all the time - and that the "good stuff" is only as good as when it's enjoyed and used. My family is notorious for holding on to things - to our own detriment. It used to drive my father crazy, yet he would do it himself as well. Then he'd go through huge bingeing cycles where he'd run through the house wanting to get rid of everything. I think he was trying to revolt against his nature. I got the hoarding gene - my sisters too. But we're encouraged by our mother who was an only child and therefore got all the stuff handed down from her mother and grandmother. Which is now being passed along to us, and sometimes it's not a matter of if you want it or not, but which of the four of my sisters will indulge my mother and take it.

With that said, though, there are now things in my possession that I have that I would love to use - on a fairly regular basis, in fact, if I could. Like a teapot and tea cups. How often do I pull that out just for myself? Uh, never. But I bet it would be fun, even if I just had one friend over. I even have a coffee pot (a fancy one like a teapot, but did you know coffee pots stand tall and thin, and teapots are squat and round and adorable - I love coffee, but teapots definitely have them beat in the cute department). I also have parfait glasses. And, oh yes, I would love to use them! Parfaits are easy to make -it's not the food/drink part that's holding me back. It's that I've never felt like I could just plan a tea party. People's schedules are always busy, and it's often so much easier to plan things more on the fly and be flexible.

So now these fun things that I actually did plan on using at some point are relocated to the garage, in boxes, wrapped up waiting for someone to play with them again. In a perfect world, I'd have a big enough house to have sideboards and hutches and cabinets to keep all this fun stuff in. But maybe for now I just need to have them close enough and organized enough to find them when I do want to plan that tea and parfait party (don't worry, it won't involved lace and gloves and quilting - unless you want it to - because sometimes being old fashioned and girly is fun!).

I don't know where I'm going with this. But when Vivzan posted on her blog about worrying about having people over because she didn't have a place for them to sit and eat, it made me think about The Simple Mom's blog post. And how we can waste so many moments worrying about propriety, when really we should spend more enjoying each other's company. Our day-to-day can be so mesmerizing and all-encompassing that it's hard to pull ourselves out of it.

So I'm going to stop worrying so much about my dirty couch, shabby carpets, and hugely disorganized house, and concentrate on spending more quality time with friends and family. Don't worry - I'll still clean to the best of my ability! And then distract everyone with food, drink, and conversation - and Rock Band!!


Anonymous said...

I grew up in a house that was never really lived in, with things that were never used unless guests were over. It made me so sad that my mom never thought our family was special enough for those things. I love that your house isn't white-glove clean! It *feels* lived in and loved in. I feel comfortable and the environment lends itself to everyone being free, comfortable and being themselves. If we lived closer (and I didn't have cat probs) I'd be over more often. Hug! - s

Clau said...

Bring out those teapots and parfait glasses! Even if we drink wine and eat cereal from them we will use them.

vivzan said...

I remember reading that particular column from Erma. Made me cry at the time. Makes me cry whenever I re-read it. Erma Bombeck was a special woman. Crap, crying right now thinking of her!

And it's so true. My mother would go on a cleaning spree whenever guests or extended family would come over. Give a tour of the house too. Thankfully, we never had the unlived-in living room that so many people I know had growing up. You know she stays up until 3 in the morning cleaning up the place before I visit?? I tell her not to bother, that it doesn't matter to me. Matters to her, for whatever reason.

I never care what my friends house looks like when I come over. As long as there isn't roaches crawling on the floor! And I don't care if I have to sit on the floor and hold a plate in my hands, so why do I think my friends care?

I am going to get a table, because I really want to have one, but yes, it's silly to not invite friends over because I lack one. And, if they're going to leave and say to themselves that it was wack that I made them eat on the floor then they're not friends!

K said...

I was just dealing with the same thing. I had to have my son's birthday party but almost didn't want to because I was ashamed of our house. I compromised and didn't clean as much as I would have liked, but so it was still presentable! It's tough!

Melissa said...

I loved your post and I think you can help me with an article I am writing for the Associated Press. I am a freelance writer working on a story about women who have the courage to entertain even if their house is not perfect.
Are you interested in being interviewed? If so, please email me a
Thanks, Melissa


Blog Widget by LinkWithin