I may have freaked out a little. If you looked around our house (which I will not permit), you would understand. It’s a disaster. There’s an outlet lying on the dining room floor. An empty Tupperware on the kitchen floor. A sock here, a dryer ball there, and all manner of whatnot in between. Every room is covered with abandoned stuff – none of which makes any sense.
“This is not how people who like their homes behave,” I said. “It looks like no one cares about the house.”
Sugarplum, who is the most neat-wired of the family, agreed. But then she said, “those houses where nothing is out of place look like no one cares, too. It’s like no one lives there.”
She stresses “lives.”
She inventories the infringements: no mail on the dining room table, no piles on the stairs, etc. “It’s kind of creepy,” she concluded. This is a problem with which we are unfamiliar.
Honestly, I don’t even know where she saw a house like that. If it’s your house and she came over to visit your kid, we can’t be friends anymore.
She has a point, though, and I need to remember that “lived in” is not always a euphemism for a giant pile of domestic rubble. We do, after all, live here. We love our house and – as far as we can tell – our house loves us. It holds our mail, catches our crumbs and lets us sort laundry in the hall. When we’re busy, it serves as a launching pad. When we’re tired, it gives us shelter.
Our house is like a mom – grabbing our lunch box after school, handing us our cleats, and telling us to have fun as we run off again without a backward glance. Sometimes it has stains on its shirt and is still wearing slippers as it stands waving at the door. It may also have forgotten to shower. These things happen. They don’t mean we appreciate it less. If anything, we appreciate it more.
Not every night can be bath night. Not every day is fresh-laundry-folded-and-put-away day. Our house looks put together when it wants to, but it has neither time nor patience for a wash and set.
Maybe when life is less hectic, our house will be tidy. Mail will be sorted at the door. No one will trip over sports equipment in the dining room. It will be dressed and made up, ready to change out of slippers to greet company at a moment’s notice.
But even then, I hope it never looses the feeling that all are welcome. That it’s okay to dump what you don’t need, grab what you do, and go live. I hope there are signs of life. It would be awfully lonely otherwise.
Everyone has their own place of comfort – probably somewhere between “social services needs to intervene” and “Stepford Wives.” For us – right now – the place of comfort is “clean on bath night.”
For us, baths are best when you’ve earned them.