The house is a mess. Chili is cooking on the stovetop. I’m wearing a holey t-shirt and jogging shorts.
“Alison, go get dressed.”
It was practical advice. Over 30 people were expected to arrive in 30 minutes, but Transformer robots were strewn all over the living room and kitchen.
“Alison, no one cares if there are toys lying around. Go fix yourself up. You’ll feel better.”
I probably looked like a deer in headlights. “But the mess?”
“I promise. People aren’t coming to see a clean house,” my mom said calmly, holding her 2-year-old grandchild on her hip. “No worries.”
I glanced at the simmering mess in the kitchen. Chili bubbled and popped; onion skins still laid on the countertop.
With permission, I ran upstairs to shower and change. I was excited, how often do you celebrate the 5th birthday of your oldest child. And just as Mom promised, no one cared about the mess.
I recently participated in an online survey: Would you rather have a clean house or make memories in a messy house? I selected memories and noticed that 77% of participants agreed with me.
But what about those who would rather have a clean house?
I’m reminded of my journey as a mother. I used to fear that people would judge me, my ability to be a good mom and caregiver to my children, by my kitchen floor. The thought would overwhelm me: tumble fur roamed the corners as we walked by, splattered yogurt left over from a dropped spoon clung to the baseboards, toys from Happy Meals discarded haphazardly under the chairs.
The kitchen wasn’t bad. Dishes were clean. Windows were washed. Food was put away. It was my mom’s comment that changed my perspective.
People aren’t coming to see my clean house. They are coming to make memories. In the wise words of journalist Hunter S. Thompson, “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming ‘Wow! What a Ride!’”
Over this Thanksgiving season, I hope you make memories with those you love in a messy house.