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Brushing your teeth while eating Oreos

That\’s what I compare to cleaning house with small kids. You clean up a mess here, only to find another one in a previously cleaned area. You put out a fire here to find a blaze there. You go in circles. You wear yourself out. You get frustrated. You make no progress. You give up. And some not-so-perfect-moms might even get grumpy with their kids.

Not that this has happened to me. Ahem.

I grew up in a flawlessly organized, superbly clean, and always comfortable home. My mother is naturally gifted in the arts of cleaning, organizing, and decorating. My gifts lie, errr, elsewhere. I can\’t just look at a room and get a vision for organizing it. Try as I might, I can\’t make a system work. I have failed FlyLady. If my house ever made it on Pinterest, it would be a \”before\” picture, not an exemplar!

I would like nothing more than to be able to have an open, hospitable home. I would love to invite folks over for lunch after church on Sunday. I have long wanted to have an in-home Bible study group. I want to have a Superbowl party in two weeks. However, I am just so afraid my home won\’t measure up to others\’ standards of cleanliness, organization, and general homeyness, so I just don\’t do it. The fear of judgement keeps me from acting on my desire to be hospitable.

I\’m resolving right now to do two things, and I need my friends in the blogosphere and real world to remind me of these: 1. I will open my home to people (other than those related to me who know what to expect) within the next month. 2. I will spend a maximum of 30 minutes a day on general organization and cleaning, and leave it at that. No more frenzied cleaning jags, shoving stuff in the closets, and worrying about what others think (Mom, are you reading this?). I\’m going work on improving this weakness, but I\’m going to be real about the actual state of affairs in my home. It\’s not perfect. Why pretend it is????

You know what? I bet some of those folks I would invite over live in less than perfect homes, too. They probably have a basket of mismatched socks somewhere. They probably can write messages in dust on their dressers, too. Their closets might hide potential avalanches of clothes and toys, like mine often do! If I create a false sense of perfection in my home, aren\’t I just infecting them with the perfection virus, too? \”I can\’t host Book Club- my house is a mess. Look at Elly\’s house- it was so neat the other day! Mine is such a mess. No way!\” (Confession:  I can\’t actually imagine the phrase \”Elly\’s house was so neat\” ever being uttered, but you get my point, right???)

I am taking the vow to stop pretending. None of us has a perfect home here on Earth! From here on out, mine will be a home dedicated to hospitality, love, fun, and sharing the Word. No more perfect homes!

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Elly Gilbert

READER & WRITER OF HAPPILY EVER AFTERS