Before we had our third child, it seemed like a round robin of Friday night dinners and Sunday brunches, impromptu meals with the neighbors, and the occasional blowout, grown-up party.
Then slowly, the invitations began to wane and we, too, all but stopped inviting people to our house. I get it: We’re all busy raising families, making a go of it career-wise, and just trying to do all the things we need to get through a day. Hosting people on top of our regular, over-scheduled, frenetic lives feels like a big deal, but it doesn’t have to be.
I don’t know all the reasons for the social slow down, but in this world of virtual everything, I know I crave a little in-real-life time with people I enjoy. Here are seven reasons you might not be inviting me to your house and why you should anyway:
1. I haven’t invited you over lately—or ever.
This could very well be true, but someone has to go first. Wanna roshambo for it?
2. Your house is a mess.
Maybe you’ve been to my house and seen how tidy it is—and, in general, even when no one is coming over, it is. I’m a neat freak, okay? Maybe even a little OCD about it. I also have the luxury of employing a house cleaner. Your house, on the other hand, might be decorated in yesterday’s spaghetti sauce, and there could be stray socks, miniature leggings and a dirty diaper strewn down the hallway and dog vomit on the rug. So what? I don’t care. Really, I don’t, and neither does anyone in my family. Your house is your house, and you keep it how you want or are able to on any given crazy-ass day. The only thing that matters to me about someone else’s house is the people living in it.
3. Hosting a family of five sounds too overwhelming.
I can’t fault you for this one. We are overwhelming—and loud and boisterous and full of ourselves. It gets a little boring, so we like nothing better than to take the show on the road…to your house. Don’t worry. My kids are actually much better behaved when they’re guests, plus my two older girls (10 and 13) are practically full-grown humans who can entertain the little ones while we eat in relative peace. Score.
4. It’s expensive.
Let me tell you from experience that yes, it can be quite expensive to host another family for a major meal. So don’t. Invite us for tea or water or Two Buck Chuck. Invite me for conversation and belly laughs or just to listen. If you’d like us to come for dinner, ask me to bring a side dish or dessert or both and always, always ask me to bring wine (if you don’t, I’ll bring it anyway).
5. You don’t like to cook.
Who said anything about cooking? We can bring Chinese takeout or have pizza delivered. I’ll pick up tacos from that authentic taco truck by the airport and I just smile and say “sí, sí” until my order’s ready. Or I can bring a bag of pretzels and a bottle of gin, and we can call it a day. Cooking is not a requirement for having us to your house. Friendly faces and good company are.
6. You think I’m busy.
My dance card is full, but not with fun stuff like socializing with cool people. It’s full of grocery store runs and school drop-offs and pick-ups and rides to soccer practice and that last-minute dash for cupcakes the day of the party. It’s full of doctor’s appointments and orthodontist appointments and vet appointments. I will cop to the occasional girls’ weekend or visiting my parents who live 45 minutes away on a Sunday, but in general, I’m no busier than you are. People gotta eat. Might as well do it together.
7. You’re too tired.
Sleep is a precious commodity, and you certainly don’t want us butting in on your fair share. I’m going to let you in on a little secret: I’m in my 40s with an overworked husband, an emotional teen, a moody tween, and an overstimulated 4-year-old. It’s not like we’re gonna party like it’s 1999. If we’re at your house for dinner, we’re not staying past 8 p.m., because the little one has to go to bed or else we’ll be living in hell for the next 24 hours. We’re also totally up for breakfast, brunch, lunch or a mid-afternoon snack, whatever hours of the day you’re at your most awake.
Of course, if you’re not inviting us because you don’t really like us, I guess that’s cool. Not everyone has to be friends with everyone else (this is what I tell my preschooler). Otherwise, just invite us over. I promise to return the favor.