2 July 2012
not apologising for myself
These two stupid things of which I speak were made all the more stupid by the fact that I made the same mistake twice, and there's not much excuse for doing that, is there?
I left an open carton of cranberry juice on its side in the fridge, which leaked lavishly and created a sticky pink reservoir in the bottom of the cold cupboard whilst I played with my children in blissful ignorance. I thankfully discovered the spillage before an entire litre of cystitis-fighting liquid spread itself messily into every corner, and used a tea-towel of roughly the same shade with which to mop it all up. And then, a few hours later, I made an identical mistake with four pints of milk. What a doofus.
In fairness, I was trying and failing to juggle several things at once when the milky disaster ensued, including the scruffy end of the children's dinnertime, the early arrival of a grocery delivery (as I opened the front door to greet the driver, Joshua appeared beside me completely stark naked and issued a cheery "Hello!") and the beginning of the bedtime routine. And I was reminded of a recent post I'd read on Sharon's blog, Mommy Joys, entitled Come On In! Sharon wrote movingly and sensibly about an epiphany she recently experienced on the subject of mess and unexpected guests. Why, she asked herself, am I embarrassed about having an untidy home when I have three pre-school sons? Of course there are toys scattered everywhere and piles of unfolded laundry! And I related so much to Sharon's analysis of her previous embarrassment: I am unwilling to allow others close enough to see my faults.
This morning, someone phoned and asked if he could swing by to pick up some sheet music on the way into town. My top was covered in patches of encrusted Weetabix following a lively breakfast, the carpet was unvacuumed and a hundred coloured balls had been flung gaily around the living room like so much confetti. I was not delighted by the prospect of allowing anyone close enough to see the mess, although I knew perfectly well that my visitor would be highly unlikely to notice, care or pass judgement on the state of my house during the brief moment he was standing in my hallway. But I remembered Sharon's wise words, and decided to open the door without shame or apology.
It took everything I had to refrain from saying I'm sorry about the mess. But it did me a lot of good not to say it. Because apologising for mess is really equivalent to saying I'm sorry you've caught me in the act of not coping. I'm sorry I couldn't magic up another few hours in my day and get a couple more things achieved as a result. I'm sorry my children behave like children. I'm sorry I have faults. I'm sorry I'm not perfect.
It doesn't hurt another person to stand - or even sit - in a messy house. It doesn't matter if there are toys underfoot. Who cares if there's a bit of cat hair on the carpet? The most important things are warmth and welcome and laughter and love. This I must remember. It's good to allow others close enough to see your faults. To see that you're not perfect. None of us are, after all. I forget this sometimes, when I'm looking at other people. If I allow myself to be vulnerable, perhaps they will too. And if they allow themselves to be vulnerable, perhaps I will too.