Because our first Little Bean arrived two weeks early, we were able to make a trip to the North East to attend a good friend’s wedding. Though I wasn’t sure about embarking on such a long trip in the car, we decided to take it slowly with lots of stops along the way. After all, I knew going into it that it would be more stressful for me than for the Bean. And it was, but it was worth it. She got to meet grandparents and great-grandparents and cousins and lots of friends as we headed to the Cape.
But that journey isn’t what this post is about.
This post is about the fact that we were away from our house for two weeks. And we left the house in a bit of a jumble, as you do when you’re preparing a two-week trip with a five-week-old baby. Not just cluttered messy, but dirt-under-your-bare-feet-on-the-kitchen-floor messy.
A few days into the trip, we received a phone call asking if an out-of-town visitor could stay at our house for a night. While we were gone. From our jumbled house.
My instinct was to say yes immediately, and I did.
But I also knew what would happen because it happened before, when a different friend had called and asked if a different out-of-town visitor could stay at our house a different time when we were away. (I said yes in that case, too.)
This is what happened: my mind went to the dirty dishes in the sink, the dirt that had accumulated on the kitchen floor and dust bunnies in the living room, the spoiled food in the frig I’d meant to toss out, you know, all of the things I’d really wanted to clean up before we left that I just didn’t get to. I started to get anxious, mentally wandering through each room, trying to figure out how embarrassing it would be. It isn’t exactly my most admirable trait.
I like to pat myself on the back and say, “See, look how hospitable I am. I let people stay in my house when it’s a mess and I don’t even mind.” But that’s not true.
I do mind.
I confess that when we got home, I wandered through the house grimacing at, for example, the dirty clothes on the bathroom floor, including underwear. Ick. Underwear. Why didn’t I pick that up before I left?
It’s hard to be hospitable. I think it’s because it’s hard to be vulnerable.
But it seems to me that we can’t be vulnerable, hospitable, or heck, community at all unless we’re willing to sigh at the dirty underwear.
And move on.
And still say yes.
Well, and leave clean sheets on the guest bed when you go out of town.
Which I did do, for the record.
This post originally appeared in 2012, after the birth of our first Little Bean. For some reason, it has remained one of the most-clicked-on posts at Texas Schmexas.