It was 1:25 p.m. and our minivan scooted up the driveway into the garage. I knew that a friend of mine was coming at 1:30 for some tea and mom chat time, so I was hustling back from our morning of appointments and errands.
I’d planned to get home by 12:45 or even 12:30 to get everything ready for my friend’s arrival. But one thing had lead to another that day… and here I was, at 1:25, rushing the kids into the house and bustling around.
We hadn’t eaten lunch yet… there were groceries to be put away… sigh. So much for my plan to have the kids happily settled in their own activities (and for me to be calm and rested in preparation for our visit).
And, then I surveyed the landscape.
Man. That’s a lot of dishes in my sink. And on the counter next to it.
The pile of unsorted mail on another kitchen counter was also untidy. LEGO guys (some of them, uh… decapitated) littered the entry way where my youngest had been playing previously. School books, shoes, socks, a few jackets—they all were in various disarray in the kitchen and family room.
Fabulous. Just great. I thought. I felt the anger in me starting to bubble.
The clock now read 1:28 p.m.
This was a new friend, but from what I knew of her so far I had a sneaking suspicion that she was one of those punctual people. Which meant that her car would be pulling up my driveway any minute.
She was going to walk into my house and see me, my house and my kids in less than an ideal state. It was not how I’d envisioned our time together. At all.
Outwardly, the situation had been determined, and in these last few moments there wasn’t much I could physically do about it.
Inwardly, however, I still had a choice.
I could follow my natural inclination and let the tension of having a messy house overwhelm me, cause more worry and stress, and dampen my mood (and thus our time together).
Or, I could simply stop and embrace the moment in all its imperfection. I could choose to accept the vulnerability I was faced with and let her see the side of me that is sometimes not all put together.
I could make excuses for why things looked like they did, or I could simply say, “Welcome to our home… in all its glory”… and move on from the moment.
In short, I could choose to say, “My mess is here to bless.”
You see, ladies, no matter how much we deny it sometimes, we really do want to show our best face to others. We wear our best clothes to church, present a happy face (even when we don’t feel it), and can give an unspoken vibe that all is well, and all is good (even when it isn’t).
There are times when a plastic smile seems so much more comfortable sometimes than a frown… or even a tear.
We don’t want anyone to know our deepest darkest secret: despite our truest efforts, we don’t have it all figured out.
While I’m not advocating for us to always wear our emotions on our sleeve or to leave our homes in a state of disarray, I am saying that perhaps we can re-frame how we view these (uncomfortable) moments.
What if we viewed these as amazing opportunities to allow someone else an intimate glimpse into our very real, very flawed world? To let them know that they’re not alone in their imperfection?
What if we reversed the roles and we were the ones walking into another mom’s behind-schedule-messy-house moment? Wouldn’t we feel a small sense of relief that phew… her days and her life can be just as scattered and crazy as mine.
I know I would. (Anyone want to volunteer to let me walk into their moment?)
We talk about wanting to be real with each other, but are we really willing to offer that kind of “nakedness” to someone else, especially one that we don’t know that well yet? We are desperate for closeness and a feeling of you-are-just-like-me, but how does this happen unless we take the masks off from time to time?
My friend was a brand new mom and she was feeling her way through those first exhilarating (and exhausting) months of motherhood. So perhaps walking into someone else’s mess would be, in fact, a soothing balm for her.
That afternoon, I had wanted to offer her grace during this season of upheaval and discovery. To tell her that the mothering life wasn’t picture-perfect—for anyone. I wanted to start off our new relationship with openness, honesty and authenticity.
So that’s why I finally decided that “me being real”—messy house and all—was just what needed to happen today.
The doorbell rang and I hugged my friend and her new little one at the door.
Doing my best to not offer an excuse or a reason for our disorganization, I simply said, with a smile: “Welcome. I’m so glad you’re here.”
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