Almost every time I enter a friend’s home who has small children, the first words I hear are:
“I’m so sorry for the mess!”
“Sorry, my house looks terrible!”
“Excuse the mess, please!”
Moms, especially those with small children, are always apologizing for the way their house looks. It’s an unspoken rule of having a guest over. You must offer them a drink…and apologize for your house. You must ask them how they’ve been…and apologize for your mess. Why is it this way?
I can’t judge because I’ve found myself saying the same things when someone comes to my home. Even when I’ve cleaned for hours, I look at my house through, what I imagine are, someone else’s critical eyes and can’t help but feel like I should be doing more. There’s always something out of place. There’s always something that needs to be wiped down. There’s always so much more that needs to be done.
And all of us moms are trying to do our best. So, let’s call a truce.
I won’t mind your mess if you don’t mind mine. I promise I won’t ever comment on the state of your home. I would never think that the way it looks says anything about your parenting or your work ethic. I would never assume that one day represented every day.
Because we both know how hard it is. Our homes take a beating. The carpet has stains we can’t get out. The stainless steel appliances always have handprints on them. The walls have paint chipped off. The grass needs to be cut, the laundry is piled up, and the sink is rarely empty.
But here’s what’s important. Our kids are happy.
The carpet is stained because we made slime with them in the living room. Their artwork is taped to the side of that hand-printed fridge. The paint is chipped because we had a doll stroller race and bumped into a few walls. The grass is long because we’re too busy playing in the sprinkler to cut it. The laundry never ends because we let our kids get messy. The dishes pile up because we’re making healthy meals for our families.
This mom thing is hard. And it can be very lonely. We’re in our homes raising our children on our own. We need a community. We need to be around other women who get it. Women who are giving the best parts of themselves to their families every day. Women who try and succeed and try and fail and try again. Women who are experiencing the same fear, joy, and awe that comes with trying to raise good people.
Are we really missing out on making memories with each other because there are Cheerios smashed into the carpet or dishes stacked in the sink? Are we choosing to do this alone because the floor needs to be swept? Is looking perfect more important than being together?
It’s not to me.
I don’t care if my house is a mess when you stop over. I won’t apologize for it or even acknowledge it at all. I’ll pretend that I can’t see the socks on the floor or the smears on the windows. I know it isn’t why you’re here.
You’re here so we can catch up on each other’s lives. You’re here so we can share a funny story. You’re here so that we can feel like someone else gets it. You’re here so we can pass some time together in this too sweet, too short life.
Because, really, who cares if the countertop is dirty when we’re sitting at it and laughing? Neither of us will remember the crumbs.