Before I left for work last Friday morning, my husband casually mentioned that two of our friends, a young couple who had attended our church before graduating and moving to Baltimore, would be arriving that evening and visiting for the weekend.
He thought this was a reminder. I thought, "Wait, we have house guests coming tonight?"
Then there was a slew of other thoughts: how I'd need to move the massive heap of winter clothes that I had piled on our guest bed and haven't had time to sort, how I should change the sheets and set out fresh towels, how I probably should vacuum and make some effort to tame the tangles of Legos and Barbies and balls and stuffed animals and crayons and craft projects and crumbs that had overtaken the kitchen and family room.
Fourteen hours later when our guests arrived with hugs and bags and greetings, the house was in a worse state than it had been in the morning. Our friends didn't seem to notice or care.
I'm ten years into parenting, and I'm still learning that I don't need to apologize for the life that I'm living. That mess? It's simply proof that we live here, that life takes place within these walls.
I think back to my younger professional days before we had children, when our house was habitually organized and quiet, and my neighbor, a mom of three, walked in, glanced around, and blurted out, "It's so clean in here!"
That's the type of reaction I now have (at least internally) when I witness glimpses of this orderly lifestyle, like when I watched my friend the next morning chop vegetables for a veggie tray that she was prepping for a picnic of college students, noticing how carefully she sliced the carrots and peppers and broccoli, how she gave legitimate thought to the presentation, how she took time to core half of a red cabbage to create a bowl for the ranch dressing.
If you can call a vegetable tray as beautiful, it was. It was as if Pinterest came to life in my kitchen. That doesn't happen with me at the helm right now.
And that's okay. Because my hands needed to be occupied with other things that morning, like tying laces of cleats, driving kids to soccer practices, and carrying portable chairs to the sidelines of a field.
We don't need to apologize for the lives we're living or the phases we're in. I'm still learning this.