One of the best things we can do is to get together, gab and relax with friends. We all know this, but somehow along the course of our regular weeks that get tangled up with work and kids, getting together with friends—the kind of friends you want to see, not have to see—tends to fall by the wayside.
I mean, it makes sense: It’s not urgent, it’s something that’s solely for us, and it feels kind of indulgent. And let’s be honest, on other days, it just feels like too much. There are only so many hours in a week, and something has to give. Then kids get sick, we get sick, other pressing things pop up, and so on and so forth. So, yeah, it makes sense, but it still sucks.
For me—and I’m guessing many other moms—there’s also the little matter of the mess. That would be the one in my house, which is always there in some way, shape or form. Part of it is that I have two kids under the age of 7. The other part is that I’ve never been what one would call “neat.” Marie Kondo I am not and never will be.
I’ve mostly come to terms with this, as I have with my penchant for overpacking when I travel. My philosophy: If this is my worst trait, I can’t complain! (It’s probably not, but work with me here, people.)
Anyway, the problem with my semi-mess is that it’s at odds with my love of having people over. I would be lying if I told you that I didn’t go into a mild state of panic when someone drops by unannounced or that I didn’t go into a cleaning frenzy before people come over. Side note: There’s a reason that my bedroom door will be locked when you come over. If you open it, things might come tumbling out, cartoon-style, with all of the crap that I didn’t know what to do with at the last minute—and I’m only kinda, sorta kidding.
Now, I know that we should all have friends that we can show our mess to, and I absolutely do, but I still can’t help myself. It’s really staggering how bad things can get on the really bad days. So, the bare minimum of straightening up is necessary, and that’s not always as easy as it sounds.
And before anyone gives me grief about the importance of cleanliness, let me stop you right there: My house is actually (mostly) clean. As in, I use my Clorox, Pine Sol and vacuum cleaner on the regular, but I can’t seem to eradicate the piles of papers that multiply like Gremlins or manage the mess that my kids can make in less than a minute that make any room like like war zone. And no, on most days, I literally do not have 10 extra minutes to do some magical cleaning voodoo, since I’ve already crammed in so many “10 extra minutes” in so many other places.
We could just sit and relax and talk like normal people who, yes, had children but were still themselves.
Anyway, that said, I did have an epiphany over the holidays and a reminder of how great it is to spend time with grown-ups that you like. This isn’t going to be some big “new year, new me” post, though, where I’ve gotten my proverbial you-know-what together or I’m going to reveal some stunningly brilliant way to keep your house clean.
But I will say that I unintentionally did a really smart thing: I had people over…and then kept having them over. Everything was a lot less of a mess after the first go-round of exhaustive pre-holiday cleaning, so before the next round of people, all I had to do was straighten up a little, get the vacuum out and buy a few new snacks for each new group. If people stayed for a while, we ordered out. I love cooking, but didn’t put any pressure on myself to go full Martha Stewart. (Paper plates so I didn’t have to do the dishes? Hell to the yes!)
There was another bonus to doing this around the holidays: No one had to go anywhere. We didn’t have to rush off to any kiddie activities or family functions or anything else. We didn’t have to worry about work for the most part. (I did have a few deadlines, but they weren’t as pressing or as copious.) We could just sit and relax and talk like normal people who, yes, had children but were still themselves. We let the kids destroy the basement (and their rooms and the den), and as long as there was no screaming, we left them alone.
I was exhausted by the end of five days of this, but I was also ridiculously happy. And I felt like a human being again.
Granted, this was also made possible by the fact that the youngest of the group on any of these days happened to be my daughter, who’s now 3 and a half. She’s feisty and had a few mini meltdowns, but they were certainly fewer and farther between than they could have been and were in the past.
I was exhausted by the end of five days of this, but I was also ridiculously happy. I got to see a bunch of friends from different walks of life, and I felt like a human being again.
Things are back to our messy version of normal again, and that’s OK. I got my fill of adult time, and I feel human and mostly sane again. I know it won’t last forever, so I’m looking forward to the long weekends and school breaks that are coming up, when I’ll try to be strategic about entertaining—more intentionally this time.
In the meantime, when I do have friends over here and there, maybe I won’t go into as much of a cleaning panic before they come over. After all, they’re friends, most of them are fellow parents, and they’re not judging me. As long as they don’t open my bedroom door, that is.