A couple of months ago a good friend came over and before I’d even offered her a drink, hell before she’d even had chance to sit down, I’d apologised at least twice for the state of the house, and pointed out several things that did not meet some arbitrary cleanliness standard I’d constructed in my head, i.e. the presence of pet hair on the sofa, a coating of dust on the glass TV stand and a smattering of toys across the floor that she had to step over to reach the fur-covered sofa. Fortunately she’s a good friend and she just laughed. “I hadn’t noticed any of those things” she told me “and I’ve just realised that I do the same thing when people come round to my house too. So I’m going to stop because if they hadn’t noticed then why would I draw attention to it?!”
She had a point.
Plus it got me thinking- why was I apologising in the first place? To apologise insinuates you’ve done something wrong, made an error and you’re expressing regret. I knew the house was a mess when I invited her over and hadn’t done anything to rectify the situation, I hadn’t promised her fur-free seating or a dust-free environment and then let her down, I couldn’t even hand on heart say I’d make sure it was tidy in time for her next visit. Because frankly, I’ve got better shit to do, and as a mother and pet-owner herself she knows how it is and doesn’t judge. If she were the kind of person that might be inclined to judge me based on my housekeeping skills maybe I’d have made a bit more effort…or maybe we just wouldn’t be friends 😉
Since having this epiphany I have vowed to stop apologising to ANYONE for not having an immaculate home.
I left home at 15 and I am now 29. I think it’s clear to everyone that I am never going to be that person. The one whose house manages to look both beautiful and at the same time, like no one actually lives in it.
Our bookshelves will apparently always be a dumping ground for whatever my boyfriend finds in his pockets at the end of the day, our living room will smell of hay (courtesy of our two house rabbits) our kitchen surfaces will be littered with glasses and dishes waiting to be washed up (courtesy of not having a dishwasher) and it would appear I am destined to spend the rest of my life surrounded by laundry in various stages of dirty/clean and wet/drying/waiting to be ironed (ha!) If I gave more of crap I could maybe make more of an effort and maybe, just maybe for a couple of days out of the week the place would look alright. But I give no craps, and I find my effort is better invested elsewhere. In my children, in my relationship, in my writing, in my life in general.
When my mother-not-in-law Joy passed away earlier this year there was only one thing of hers that I knew I wanted to have. This sign:
Cross-stitch is not normally my thing, but I remember clearly the first time I visited Joy, feeling a bit apprehensive, as one might when meeting a new boyfriend’s Mum properly for the first time, and the first thing I saw when I walked into her house, on the wall above a heap of junk was this sign, and I relaxed straight away. So now it hangs in my kitchen, above my draining board, which is eternally and precariously stacked with clean dishes waiting (and waiting…and waiting…) to be put away, and it makes me smile. Because I now know, like Joy did, that there are a lot of very important things in this life…and not one of them is having a clean and tidy house.