Here's a column that first appeared this winter on Amy Bordoni’s blog Don’t Stamp the Baby.
Today my cousins who we rarely see or spend time with surprised us by coming to our church to hear Andrew "preach." As we stood chatting after the service I knew we should ask them over. I wanted to ask them over. I loved the thought of having them over. But inside I was cringing. Our house - as per usual when we're not expecting visitors - was a disaster. But I asked them anyway. And they came.
I'm not sure what they really thought about the counters piled with mail and papers (seriously, piled), the dirty dishes in the sink, the floors that clearly needed washing. I'm pretty sure they noticed the bathroom sink that doesn't drain, the garbage cans that needed emptying, the fifteen pairs of boots and shoes piled by the back door. I pray they didn't go upstairs, open the refrigerator, peek behind the shower curtain or look under the couch cushions.
While they were here, I tried not to apologize too much. I was reminded of a gut-wrenching moment in the movie “What's Eating Gilbert Grape” when the mom, who has become so grossly overweight she can't get out of the house, says to her son's girlfriend, "I wasn't always like this."
Neither was I. In high school, I couldn't go to sleep if I knew that my dirty clothes had missed the laundry basket. I was a housekeeper at summer camp, five years in a row. When I was single, I washed my floors weekly, on my hands and knees.
Somewhere along the way, things changed. I don't like the mess, but cleaning and picking up just isn't a priority anymore. We do it, of course. We keep the main rooms tidy for lessons during the week and the bathroom clean. But keeping a house in order for the unexpected guest ... well, I choose to write and work and bake and play with my kids. Right now, in fact, I could be washing the pans from dinner or dusting the piano or vacuuming the stairs. All these things need to be done. But they're not going to happen. I prefer to write about them instead.
Someday I hope to be okay about this. And invite you over anyway. Just please don't go upstairs.
Editor’s Note: Make sure to read the comments Amy got to this post, including one from her – gasp – visiting cousins! This story also prompted quite a few reader comments when it first appeared on the home page.
Amy Bordoni of St. Charles describes herself on her own blog, Don’t Stamp the Baby, as a “writer, poet, mom, honey, friend, chef, collector, helper … meanie, hard worker, sleep deprived, broke, hopeful.” You can also follow her on Twitter @amybordoni.