type='text/javascript'/> A Latte Talk: Messy Hospitality

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Messy Hospitality

OK, truth be told. I'm not a neatnik. I like my house clean. But I don't like being the one to implement those changes. I go through manic streaks where I clean like crazy, have a clean house for a while (because everybody knows it's easier to clean an already clean house), and then it turns into a pit and it's so hard to get it back out of the pit unless I have another manic streak. That's pretty much how my household works. So, maybe 30% of the time, it's clean, and the other 70% it's... ummmm.... not.

I used to not physically be able to leave the house messy when I left to go somewhere. When I still had only 1 child (oh... the days...), I remember distinctly telling a friend I couldn't meet her for a playdate for another 2 hours, because in my mind I knew it was going to take that long to clean up. It stressed me out to leave dishes in the sink or anything out on the counter or table or floor.

I'm so over it.

And, you know, it's not my nature to be stressed out about that kind of thing... it had to do with how I felt about what "others" might think. We had a fairly picked up house before kids, but I never stressed about it. It was messy sometimes. But somehow things had changed after having a baby... I had friends that I needed to impress with my fabulous housekeeping skills, *I* had to pick up, just so *I* felt good about *myself*. Every time I had a friend over and the house wasn't in "company" shape, I apologized about the "mess". It was a bit of pride, a bit of fear, and a lot of insecurity.

When my oldest was 11 months old, I went on a trip to Oregon to visit my dear friend from high school, Michelle. It was a girls week. She has a little boy just a few months younger than Corene, so we played and the kids played.

I will *never* forget that trip. It was heaven, absolute heaven. Her house was spotless SO messy!!! We walked in the door, and there were toys everywhere... she brought me up to the room where I would stay, stepping over laundry baskets of clothes as we went. She showed me the kitchen, where an entire load of dishes was in the sink.

It was JUST like my house!!!

And here's where I learned a lifelong lesson. She NEVER apologized, never tried to "cover up her flaws", never said anything that made me feel awkward. She was just REAL. I have never felt so welcome in somebody's home.

We had conversations about flylady.net and the struggles of keeping a home clean, and all the frustrations and challenges of learning about this "mom" business. We loved each other and encouraged each other. We rejoiced in each other's joys and felt each others pains.

And, I dare say it began with that simple act of hospitality.

The world has it backwards. We use the words "good hospitality" to describe a Martha Stewart placesetting, lavish and *perfect*.

But I am forever changed. Hospitality means open, inviting, real. It means we don't hide our ahem.. *many* flaws.

I leave my dishes in the sink and I let my kids' art projects remain on the table and the legos are all over the floor and the dress up clothes litter the girls' room.

And we go play. Or we go to the grocery store. Or we go to school. Or, *shocker* we have a playdate in our messy house! No apologies.

I do look forward to my manic phases, though. Gotta love a clean house.
Gotta love no hate NO- LOVE the Flylady.

Really I don't DO!!!


Yvette said...

That's so my house! Messy most of the time, and then the manic streaks of cleanliness. I'm glad to learn that you are over worrying about getting the house clean for company. I am not as bad as I used to be, so the Lord is working on me. I don't get crabby anymore at my husband while we rush to clean and get ready. Now it is what it is. And it's totally REFRESHING for me too to go to another mom's house that's messy. I love it!

Anonymous said...

I laughed so hard when I read the SO Messy. Messy was an understatement. I remember getting ready for you to come. Believe it or not I really did try but Bryan's folks where here and Bradley was not himself. The only comfort I found in having a visitor in my home was that it was my dear friend who was coming. I knew you loved me and would understand my struggles. I had no idea the blessings I would find in that week together. Your blog is a good reminder for me to be real because we gained so much more that way. I have looked back at that week in amazement at the depth we were able to get to and laugh at what was partly responsible for that sweet time. Thank you Lord for not allowing me to get my cleaning done that week. I love you Jenny. Thank you for loving me and my many flaws. You are a true friend that allows me to be myself. I can't wait till our next messy adventure together. I too have a love/hate relationship with flylady.

Kelly @ Love Well said...

Here's to REAL LIFE. L'chiam. Great post, Jenny.

Amanda said...

Oh my goodness, I could've written this post. Though I don't know who the flylady is, I can relate to this post on ALL levels. Thank you for writing this...Really, thank you. It helped open my eyes a little. I guess you could say YOU, or this post, was MY Michelle. Thank you!

Jenna said...

i'm so ready to become that manic cleaning lady again...all i need is an empty house and a pot of coffee...want three kids???? ha!

Alana said...

I have a friend who is just like that. And I love it. I love her house, I feel so relaxed there. Unfortunately I have a hard time doing that myself. Wish I could let it go. I have let it go a lot since having kids, but I'm not where you are at yet. I want to be there!

Missy @ It's Almost Naptime said...

Oh, girl, I have a book you have to read. It is on the groovy new bookshelf on the side of my blog - its called Real Love, Real Life, and this is exactly what she talks about. Either she wrote it or it got me to thinking about how I cannot remember one china pattern from all the homes I have visited, but I do remember the conversations that lasted till 1am. And that is what hospitality is!

You would LOVE this book!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info. Since having twins my house went from "slighly disorganized" with 1 kid to chaotic with 3.

Thanks so much for the info from FlyLady. I actually signed up for the info from this website and have started implementing it.

As for "manic" cleaning, we had company over this weekend, so my house is now "clean" and I am trying to implement "FlyLady" principals to keep it that way especially my "hot spots".

Working mom of 3