Are you someone who has parents? Do you live in an apartment or a house? Do you own possessions? And do your parents visit your apartment or house and sometimes notice your possessions? If you answered yes to all of these questions, I'm betting you feel an occasional need to whip your home into parent-ready condition. And if you're messy like me, I'm willing to bet that occasional need is laced with frantic urgency. Because, let's face it, whether it's actually happening or not, we sit in constant judgement from our parents...FOREVER!
But, you are awesome. You do things like suddenly make your home look crazy-neat and organized as if you actually live that way. Your fridge contains only fresh food and everything is beautifully arranged instead of stuffed into submission. And if you have kids, they are neatly scrubbed and calm and not at all like monkeys in the wild.
But this awesomeness does not come easily, and sometimes, it does not come at all.
My parents live close by and on Sunday, they called while I was at the grocery store to say they were stopping by. As regular readers may know, I am a messy person who was raised by meticulously neat parents. As in, museum-caliber cleanliness. Why I didn't get the neat gene is something I've not had time to look into on account of work, life, and all the time I spend goofing off instead of cleaning my house.
I called Eric from the grocery store parking lot to let him know my parents were coming over. You know, as a heads-up so he could get the parent-readiness in motion. No answer on his cell, no answer on the land line (yes, we still have a landline and yes, it is a waste of money).
I arrive home to find Eric in the kitchen making braised pork chops with with mushrooms and parsley (delicious), my daughter in a princess costume and flip-flops dancing around the dining room, my son splayed on the living room floor demanding someone play with him in the backyard, and lots and lots of disorder. As in, two loads of clean laundry on the sofa, the Sunday paper all over the coffee table, three mysterious Tootsie Roll candies under a side table, and a long list of toys belonging to the children that should be in their rooms.
I fly into the kitchen and in my most loving voice possible, under the circumstances, say to Eric, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?!
"I am making pork chops," he says with a smile.
I HAVE BEEN TRYING TO CALL YOU! I tell Eric in a tone that I'm sure he does not at all find abrasive.
"I was here," Eric says, a little too calmly for someone who should be able to read my mind.
I HAVE BEEN CALLING! I CALLED ON YOUR CELL AND I CALLED ON THE HOME PHONE! YOU DID NOT ANSWER! I explain in a tone that I am certain he does not find bossy.
"What's the matter?" he asks, remaining calm, but keeping his eyes on the pork chops.
MY PARENTS ARE COMING OVER! I CALLED TO LET YOU KNOW! BUT YOU DIDN'T ANSWER THE PHONE! WHY DIDN'T YOU ANSWER THE PHONE?! I say, clearly identifying the urgent issue at hand.
"Oh…should we make tea?" he asks.
This back-and-forth ended with Eric returning to the pork chops and me clearing two things from the living room and letting my son out into the backyard before I decided to give up the ghost. You know why? BECAUSE I AM A GROWN WOMAN WHO HAS SHIT TO DO. That is why. And also, sometimes, there simply is too much going on and anyone who enters my home is going to have to deal with any mess along with the hospitality. Someone should sew that on a sofa cushion.
Now, if you read this post and said to yourself, "What the hell is she talking about? My mother AND my mother-in-law love my home which is always neat and organized!" or, "What the hell is she talking about…I never worry about how the house looks because it's always neat and organized!" or "Why doesn't she just hire staff?" -- well, I am going to have ask you to leave. Now. Please go. But I do urge you to return for my next post, which will be about the art of jaywalking, which has nothing to do with food or homemaking, but is an equally important topic and life skill.
Until then, eat well with good company!