The family and I just returned from a really nice Easter dinner hosted by some family friends who live about an hour and a half away. They're house is gorgeous and pristine, their children adorable, the food was delicious and, here's the kicker, the hostess was as serene as ... I don't know, something that's super serene.
I should say that I don't know the hostess all that well. Our real connection to her is through her mother, who was also present. This was my first time at the daughter's home, which is in a tony town in our already tony state, and my family of hicks was pretty awe-struck by the area in general.
Needless to say, my whole drive home was spent thinking the following thoughts:
1. The has three children. How is her house so clean?
2. How was she so put together while carving that ham, with the children running around?
3. No but seriously, how was her house so clean?! And how was she so put together?!
There are a variety of possible answers to these questions, but before I delve into them, let's take a step back in time to my house exactly a week ago. It was Sunday night, and there was a guest set to arrive for the following day, Monday, lunchtime.
The house was in shambles. Literally. As in, there was actual broken glass on the floor in the kitchen, but don't worry you couldn't see it anyway because of all the dog hair and toys. (NB: getting felt food for the play kitchen is a BAD IDEA when you have a German Shepherd. There's not a day that I don't spend at least five minutes de-furring a felt donut or snap pea before putting it back in the play refrigerator.)
I was exhausted.The children were in bed, but barely, and nine-month-old K was still complaining about it. She hasn't slept through the night yet, and we were coming off of a week of attempted sleep training which was a complete failure because we didn't realize the reason she wasn't sleeping on this particular week was not just to exert her disproportionate-to-her-size power over us adults for the fun of it, but because she was teething. Take that, timing!
I had just gotten terrible feedback about the house we're trying to sell, and so I was trying to decide whether I should go over to the house and try to remedy the situation on Monday morning before lunch, or go work out. I'm supposed to be working out twice a week but in the past month I'm barely hitting 50% of that. Either way, house or gym, I wasn't going to have time to make any kind of lunch since the weekend had gone the way of the housing market and grocery shopping was the most significant casualty.
On top of all that, I had only just realized in a formal sense (despite ample notice on her part) that Mary Poppins wasn't coming in on Monday which is her usual routine.
And yet, when the guest arrived, the house was clean(ish), the children were peaceful, the lunch was good and generous, and I was not in my pajamas.
How did I do it? Magic. Slight of hand.
Whatever you want to call it, what my guest saw was not real life.
"You make it look so easy." She said. "I was expecting you to have rollers in your hair, a baby on each hip and chaos in tow."
Oh girl, you have no idea.
The closest I came to admitting the truth was to say that a lot of fires get staved off while guests are visiting. And what I meant by "staved off" was "gagged, bound and stuffed into hidden closets."
Of course I'm aware of all this while I think of our pleasant Easter afternoon, but I can't help but come away either reproaching myself or resenting my hostess.
Am I not good enough?
What should I do differently?
Why do none of the systems I try to integrate, work?
Do I over commit?
Do I under perform?
It's probably because she has so much money.
It's probably because her standards are lower on other things.
It's probably because...
This is the trap.
It doesn't matter what I conclude. Either way, I'm the loser because life is for enjoying, not nit-picking, even if the one I'm picking on is myself.
In all likelihood, none of the above is true anyway, and she was just utilizing the same slight of hand that I did for my guest.
Yeah, let's go with that.