Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A merry mess

For the first couple of days of our vacation last week, we stayed with The Engineer's nephew (only a year younger than him) and his family. They are a busy family! His nephew, J, is a teacher, and he works at a family jewelry store. J's wife, P, works as a nurse and teaches nursing at a college. Add in a six-year-old daughter and a five-month-old son, and I'm not sure how they do it all!

Yep, they're busy. And when I went into their house, I could tell. It was cluttered, with toys all over the place. When the kids made messes, P encouraged me not to worry about it.

Before we left, I said to P, "I'm going to tell you something, and I hope you don't take it wrong." That's probably not the greatest way to start a conversation, but I quickly continued. "I'm glad your house isn't perfectly clean. I feel like I can relax, without worrying that my kids are going to mess anything up."

P expressed relief and said she'd been concerned we'd think they were slobs. I'm actually glad they didn't stay up until all hours of the night trying to get the house "ready" for us.

In less than 20 years, their kids and ours will be grown, and we can give our homes the white glove treatment if we really want to. But until then, I appreciate J & P reminding me that a welcoming atmosphere has a lot more to do with how you treat your guests than with how organized your home is.

I haven't spent a lot of time with J & P, but I thoroughly enjoyed it last week. I'm looking forward to the next time our families can get together--whether it's at their messy house, or mine.

13 comments:

Call Me Cate said...

I prefer homes that are lived in instead of displayed. And especially if you have kids, I don't think you're fooling everyone into thinking the house always looks like that or will look like that for even five minutes once the kids are awake. I hate feeling like my impending arrival has put someone out to the point that their home is no longer "them".

Heidi said...

What an awesome post! Thanks for sharing! I've long ago stopped stressing over the fact that toys are on the ground when people come over---I have toddlers--it happens. I'm more concerned when I take my kids to a house that looks like a museum than one where they're allowed to be kids.

Anna said...

You would absolutely love my house then Beth! LOL

Melinda said...

My house motto is "Don't mind but mess, we LIVE here." (Live meaning participating in life, and not the literal meaning of being in residence.)

SurvivorBlessing said...

Ooops, did you feel unwelcomed today? Sorry.
I am not a clean freak, but I like it tidy. And I feel that it is a great lesson for my kids to teach them, that they need to clean up after themselves (at least for now with the toys!).
When people come over, Coqui has to share his toys - if there is one that he doesn't want to share, he needs to put it away before the guests arrive.
When it comes to books, yes also children's books, to me, they are precious windows to a world of imagination, and I hate to see them torn apart. My son knows not to mess with it, and he is so good about being real nice to books. (I think so far he might have messed up 3 books, or so.)
And I am proud of him that he can appreciate things being in one piece. Because we had those moments when others destroyed something he liked and he didn't like that at all. Great teaching moment!
So next time, I will try to make it real messy.... just for you!

Angie said...

I think you'll be right at home in my messy house. Although we do encourage Paige to pick up her messes as a way to teach her she has to clean up a mess she makes. On a good day it looks like Fisher Price exploded on my living room. On a bad day I think we need a cleaning crew to find a path to walk. But we do have fun.

MarjnHomer said...

I can clean a hundred times a day and it still will be a mess at the end of the day. At least my hubby isnt a neat freak. I would go bonkers.

MarjnHomer said...

I can clean a hundred times a day and it still will be a mess at the end of the day. At least my hubby isnt a neat freak. I would go bonkers.

MarjnHomer said...

I can clean a hundred times a day and it still will be a mess at the end of the day. At least my hubby isnt a neat freak. I would go bonkers.

MarjnHomer said...

I can clean a hundred times a day and it still will be a mess at the end of the day. At least my hubby isnt a neat freak. I would go bonkers.

Kristen said...

It's so hard to remember this...but when our kids look back at things I don't think they are going to remember things like "Mom's house was always so clean"...and things like that. They are going to remember the fun they had baking cookies and playing with Legos (that mom steps on in the middle of the night) and things like that...I've learned to be more relaxed in the last year or so...and the funny thing is...I've never been happier! It's awesome that you had a great time...hope you created some wonderful memories!

Mellodee said...

Anyone that doesn't get that families with toddlers have messy houses, never had kids!

addhumorandfaith said...

Beth -- This is sooo true. I really had trouble keeping my house clean and our lives anything close to organized when we were raising our children and working. Now that it's just the two of us and we're retired, we can keep our house clean most of the time. But many of our most treasured memories took place in our chaotic, messy house of those hectic years.

Treasure the moment, friend.