I grew up with the notion that when you went to visit someone, you called first. It was the polite thing to do, I was told. We never spontaneously dropped in on someone when I was a kid and people didn’t drop in on us. My husband’s family, on the other hand, never calls first. They just show up. I went straight from my momma’s house to my own, so I went straight from forewarned to surprised.
For a young married woman, this was unnerving. I was barely 20 and trying to get my sea legs for homemaking. Then later, for a young mother drowning in diapers, toys, VHS tapes of puppets and animated dragons, and a house that was rarely tidy, this was the seventh level of Hell. I just couldn’t understand why they didn’t just call first and was always flustered and embarrassed we had to move a pile (or two) of laundry from the couch so visitors could sit. I died a little every time we just had to kick a path through Legos, dolls, and Hot Wheels so they could make it to The Couch of Laundry and Hidden Sippy Cups. The porch was always covered in dirty shovels and pails from our latest yard expedition. Wet swimsuits were hung over chairs and the “decorative” antique ladder that was only “decorative” until the new puppy decided to eat the garland of autumn leaves, knock over the pot of mums (that I would’ve killed anyway), and I won’t even mention what he did to the Jack O’Lantern.
Needless to say, I will never end up on the cover of House Beautiful, but if they ever decide to publish one called Cluttered and Disorganized, I am a shoe-in for their spokesperson.
The kids are older now and there aren’t many toys in our house these days. And aside from the classroom (which is always in disarray – because learning is messy) (that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it), the house isn’t as cluttered. Now I welcome the drop-ins.
And I am loving it.
For the first 21 years of our marriage we lived closer to my family – the family of warning calls – and now we are within two miles of pretty much all of Paul’s family – the family of surprises. If we go a day without a visit from someone we start to wonder if everyone has the flu. There is almost always a brother, nephew, or neighbor in the yard and the female counterpart to the guy in the yard can usually be found on a bar stool in my kitchen. Sure, I still have to stack up a pile of bills and receipts and move it from the bar so they can set down their sweet tea, and with two teenagers and a tween there is usually still a pile of laundry or two on the couch, but now that I have stopped worrying about the details I can enjoy the visits so much more. When I was younger I spent the visits silently berating myself for the mess, zoning out of the conversations while busying myself with cleaning up toys – and the conversations continued without me.
So today, at this point in my life, I am just…visiting. And now that I am tuned into the conversations and the precious people in my home I am aware of the goings-on, the news, the updates, and the whole reason they came to our house in the first place – because they love us. They didn’t come to judge my housekeeping skills, my ability (or lack thereof) to keep dust off the bookshelf, or to tsk-tsk at how the kids just tracked grass through the house after their latest water fight in the yard. They didn’t come to see our house; they came to see us. Which would be fine if they hadn’t caught me without makeup or without a bra.
Hey, I’m a work in progress.