I recently took my two children to a friend’s house before going to work. As my friend opened the door, she welcomed us in and said, “Excuse the mess.” I could see toys, books and blocks strewn about the living room in the haphazard pattern that only comes from children on the loose. It was a pattern I knew only too well from the living room I had just vacated.
I won’t speak for my friend, but “excuse the mess,” is exactly what I say to my guests when I feel embarrassed or self-conscious. It’s exactly what I say when I feel slightly nauseated that people see how far behind I am on my house work. It’s exactly what I say when I picture other people’s houses in pristine condition (even behind the toilets. Seriously, cleaning behind toilets is just the worst.)
My friend is confident, level-headed, and probably felt none of those things when she “excused” her mess. But if she did, and if you do when someone comes to visit, I want her to know what I thought upon arrival.
Before even stepping foot into my friend’s home, I was brimming with gratitude that she was about to care for my children while I pursued my writing career. I was grateful to have another human being who stood above three feet tall to talk to. I was grateful that her sweet boys would make my children’s day by including them in their games. No mess of any shape or size could have changed how I already felt about my friend.
Once inside, I felt like I was being included in her inner circle. She was sharing her mess with me. The people I am closest to are the people who see every side of me, from grungy hair and sweatpants to dirty dishes and unmade bed. I can totally let my guard down and share my mess around them.
I aspire to do that with more people, but if I’m being completely honest, my pride gets in the way. It forms a barrier of so-called “protection”, keeping away anyone who might form a judgmental thought about my dirty house or ill-fitting, post-pregnancy clothes. It’s stupid, but it’s the truth.
When another mom lets her guard down around me; when she lets me see her messy house, it is one of the sincerest forms of flattery. I’m deeply honored and wish only for her to know how much I respect and admire her. I won’t speak for every mom out there, but just know that if I come to visit, and your house is messy, you’re in good company.
Feel no shame, mama. Excuse no mess. We’ve all been there.