Dear Unexpected Dropper-Inners:
My apologies for being blunt, or rude, or standoffish, or however it is that you interpret my greeting. I might say it with a wistful sigh, or I might blow through the words like a tornado skipping past a trailer park, hoping you’ll read into my breathiness that I’m overcome with some tragedy at the moment, or am simply much, much too busy on this unfortunate day. It’s all bullshit, and some days I’ll just say it straight, too, not caring enough to worry about what you’ll tell your sister or co-workers.
No, you may not come in.
God help us both if you dare to ask me why, because like most bad liars I will regale you with a lengthy tale of random-made-up-crap that we both know is half-baked fakery but I somehow believe that, if I just. keep. talking., I’ll hit upon the magical detail that will make you believe. In fact, I’m worse than most bad liars, because I’m also a writer and quite enamored with words, and word choices, and the way words roll around on my tongue and jostle against one another when I release them into the world, and I’m prone to annoyingly repeating the same facts several times in a row, intrigued by the process of making them sound just-right. “And the dog! The dog went potty in the corner… I mean, he really just left quite a present for me on the rug… A truly craptacular doggie gift of gargantuan – no, immense, a craptacular doggie gift of immense proportions…”
And so it is that, in a sudden moment, I was struck with the idea to lay it out there, just once, in hopes that I’ll never again have to stand in my doorway, nervously shifting my weight from foot to foot, deciding whether to be rude or a liar in order to get you to leave without coming in. So here it is:
No, you may not come in.
Why? Because we live life in this house, and life is messy, and I happen to know that you are one of the merry brigade of people who sadistically drop in on nice folks unannounced, hoping – and wishing and praying, too, perhaps – to come in and see our messy life in all its not-magazine-shoot-ready glory. Maybe it makes you feel better about yourself. Maybe you like to see me humbled and embarrassed. Maybe you’re just a bitch. Whatever. I don’t care what it is. You may not come in.
You’re one of those little rays of sunshine that makes us all believe that if we can’t keep the children fed and clean, the house spotless, the car tidy, the laundry impeccably folded and the yard pristine while simultaneously shattering glass ceilings in our career, volunteering at church, the fire hall, the VFW, the PTA, the AZYD (okay, I made that one up) and balancing the collected works of Shakespeare on our heads, that there’s something wrong with us. That womanhood, and motherhood, should be polished and ready for presentation at all times. That we are flawed precisely because we are flawed, and unacceptable on that basis alone.
You may not come in because there is a mountain of clothes waiting to be folded on my couch (they’ve been there for two days and quite possibly will be until we wear them again), dishes from breakfast still on the table (at 1 pm), a sweatshirt (that I wore last week) draped over the back of the recliner, and “confidential” (ahem) work papers strewn all over the top of the bookcase. You may not come in because my 7 year old is still in her pajamas because some battles aren’t worth it, and my 3 year old just wandered out of the bathroom with a tail of tissue hanging out of his bum, pants around his ankles, ranting like a crazy homeless person because he somehow just, in his time on the toilet, had the revelation that airplanes don’t have eyebrows.
But mostly, you may not come in because, in between the dishes and the laundry, and the sweatshirt and the papers, and the pajamas and the naked, unruly ranting, there are layers of life that not only will you not see, but you wouldn’t appreciate even if you could. They’re the stories of how the 15 minutes that I could have spent clearing the table and washing dishes was instead devoted to jerking my fingers out of the way while I helped my toddler cut out a jagged but heartfelt Valentine (in June) for the handyman. The pajamas are what my daughter wore while we huddled together over a dog-eared, creased copy of her favorite Junie B. book, giggling like schoolgirls when Junie B. made that Stinky Jim turn his head around. The laundry held down the fort while we played soccer and baseball in the yard, and built a fairy house out of twigs and “wildflowers” (more commonly known as weeds).
Because, really, the truth is that it’s in our flaws that we are the most perfect. In our rough, raw edges we have a humanity that is simple but oh, so real. In the weirdly rectangu-circular bushes that reflect our failure to master the art of hedge trimming is the time we spent trying real hard, and the moment when we looked at our handiwork and laughed (heartily). In the unevenly mowed back yard is our experience of watching the kids, in their determination to do a “grown up” chore, careen the rotary mower into no particular pattern at all. In our unmade beds is evidence of a new day so full of something we don’t even know except to know that we’ll do it together, that we couldn’t be bothered to look back.
And maybe I’m part of the problem, too. Maybe if I was less flawed – or more flawed – I’d let you in and not care what you think or might say. Maybe if I did that, and someone else did that, and someone else and someone else, then maybe the day would come when we have a society that betters itself by seeing the in-betweens, by appreciating the choice to play Sorry! with your family instead of mop the floor. But I am this amount of flawed, and this amount of flawed is sensitive and worries about judgment (which is why I’ll right now say that the house isn’t always a mess, and I do manage to do it all – sometimes – pretty damned well, thank you .)
So, no, you may not come in. You may call ahead, and come for a pre-arranged visit in our hastily-tidied home. It will be lovely, but not quite real, which is okay, too, in moderation. And after you leave, we’ll abandon our water glasses where they are, drop our uncomfortable clothes on the bathroom floor in favor of something cozy, and get back on with living.