Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Breakthough

Yep, it's true...after nearly 13 years of homeschooling, I've had a breakthrough. A friend (and I use that term quite loosing) dropped by unexpectedly. Most of you know what my days consist of: normal housekeeping duties, school, and watching my darling 21 month old niece. Most of you also know I can be a little housekeeping challenged. Believe me, the irony of someone "housekeeping challenged" having four kids at home 24/7 is not lost on me. On more than one occasion it's felt like some sort of cosmic joke. Needless to say, the house can occasionally "get away from me". (How's that for the understatement of the year?) I really CAN get it cleaned up and I'm really never horribly, horribly behind on the laundry; so it's not like my family's constantly wading through dirty laundry and strewn books and papers to get from one room to the other. But neither is my house going to be photographed for "Southern Living" or mistaken for a museum any time soon.

All that to say, yesterday when this rather inquisitive friend walked into my house and announced that she had never seen my "new" home (we've lived here nearly 5 years and she had dropped by for a chat about a year ago and HAD seen the house), she proceeded to snoop though the downstairs. And that's when it happened - a complete breakthrough. I didn't apologize when she walked into the kitchen and found THIS on the gathering table.

Normally I would have made excuses. I would have scrambled to tidy up when she excused herself to the powder room. Nope, not now. I think, at 41 years old, I'm finally comfortable in my own skin. I know the house will get cleaned up, eventually.

A few days ago, I read Thorton Wilder's Our Town for the first time. I THINK I saw the play in college, but didn't really understand it. But reading it now, at 41 years old and with a daughter who's itching to fly the coop, I heard loud and clear what Wilder was saying. I won't remember how many days the stationary for Kevin's Haiti letters and the unprinted graduation announcements lay on the table, but I will remember watching Victoria's grinning face as she practices her tap routine to Judy Garland's song "Get Happy". No telling how many times the Rod's Western Wear catalog will get moved around downstairs before it's finally pitched, but I sure am enjoying watching Hannah devour her new book, Centered Riding. I'm not naive enough to think I can fully appreciate the little things in life (just as Wilder was pointing out in his play). But I DO know how badly I used to beat myself up over the clutter on the table. Now that I'm seeing it as evidence of a full life, I know I'm making progress. Like Thorton's Grover's Corners, my life isn't perfect or idyllic, but it is filled with uneventful, ordinary days that add up to something very special.

So, stop by any time. I'll be happy to move the books off the sofa to make a place for you to sit down. I'll fix your beverage of choice, but you must promise to ignore the untidiness - because I'm not apologizing for it.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, Natalie, I loved this!! Yesterday I had an expected - but expected a little later! - guest. I was still in my PJs and had papers strewn about with assorted books and other items necessary for looking as if I'm finishing my book proposal (emphasis on looking as if). There were dishes in the sink and laundry on the floor.

    She came in - with her 2 yr old daughter - and we folded the laundry and laughed about how two years ago I would have never let her past the front door knowing I had a pile of laundry in the den.

    And you know what? We had a delightful two-hour visit while her daughter rummaged through every pair of high heels I have (so that took 2 hours!!) and when she left I didn't think, "Oh my gosh ... I can't believe the house looked like this." Nope, for the first time, I thought, "I'm so thankful for good friends and the time to enjoy them."