I grew up in a house that operated by strict, unspoken rules. Somehow, I knew that there were specific guidelines that members of our family were required to uphold throughout the week. For instance, milk was the only drink to be had during meals, my brother and I were expected to be out of bed and headed downstairs before the second call to breakfast, we would bring home lunch to school and it would consist of a ham and cheese sandwich with whatever random bag of chips we had in the pantry, Saturday mornings were for garage sales and the afternoons were for cleaning, Sundays included mass and a large breakfast and, under no circumstances, were we going to ever have anyone over to our house during the week.
You would never see a guest in my parents’ house from Sunday afternoon through Saturday morning. It simply wouldn’t happen! There would never be a random friend who happened to be in the neighborhood and wanted to stop by and say hi. These rules – and many others – seemed to work for my parents. They were able to keep track of 4 different schedules, plan and execute family meals so that we were all ate breakfast and dinner together, strategically plan the drop-off and pick-up routes for daily obligations – including shuttling us from school to ballet to boy scouts and on and on, ensure that homework was finished and laundry was clean all with a minimum of chaos. So, obviously, the no-guest rule worked for them.
Were my parents to step into our house and witness a week in our world, they would probably work themselves up into a heart attack because the no-guest rule simply does not exist in our home. In fact, I would say that there’s a mandatory at-least-one-friend-a-week rule in our home. When Panda and I moved into our home, we knew that we wanted a haven for our cozy family. We also wanted it to be a place where our friends – our chosen (hanai) family – would feel comfortable anytime they stopped by. When we shopped for our home furniture, we made sure to choose pieces that we wouldn’t care if 6-year-olds jumped on, uncles would be able to kick up their feet and lounge in front of the tv, hanai cousins could sprawl out and watch a movie or read a book, dinner could be eaten at a coffee table and crumbs wouldn’t set mama off into a conniption, spilled beer wouldn’t cause panic attacks and frustration about messiness would not be the tone-setter of the week. Thankfully, that is exactly what our home has become. And, thankfully, our peeps have no issue or worry about dropping by any day of the week – invited or not – to catch up and share a few laughs and a meal or two.
Lesson learned by this mama: just because it was a rule in the house in which you grew up, does not mean that it has to be a rule in your home when you grow up. What worked for my parents in raising their family and running their world is not the end-all, be-all for home management. Panda, shortstack and I are much more social than my parents ever were. Because the community that we have built over the years is truly an extension of our cozy family, and the business of our everyday lives doesn’t ever seem to slow down, we try to squeeze in time with our peeps whenever we can. Sometimes the only time we have available is a Thursday evening, so dinner is crockpot-pot-roast and leftover rice and the cousins will drop by for a few hours to catch up on the latest events and randomly chat about soon-to-be-created e-harmony profiles while shortstack gets some cuddle time in before heading off to bed. Sometimes, a weekday night is the only time when a few aunties can stop by for a bitch session about the insanity of our jobs and an uncle can take a look to figure out why the tv won’t function the way it’s supposed to (and it wasn’t mama’s fault!!). These little hiccups in our weekly schedule make the insanity and chaos of our school/work demands bearable … even enjoyable.
I love that our home is always a comfy place for our peeps to walk into and that we don’t feel that our home needs to spotless and precise in order for “company ” to come over. In fact, none of us look at our peeps as “company”. There’s an explicit rule in our home, once you walk in the door, we’ll hand you the first drink and you have a few minutes to get the lay of the land, but then it’s time for you to settle in and make yourself at home. Find the fridge and help yourself, the table is a fend-for-yourself zone and if you don’t get serving or two of food, you have only yourself to blame; if you fall asleep on the couch, you’ll likely wake up with a blanket thrown over you and if you’re around during bedtime, expect that shortstack will want a few goodnight kisses and cudddles. This is the home that Panda and I wanted. This is the home that we nurture and love.
I thank my angels that we enjoy breaking the rules … after all, our life and our home wouldn’t fit us as perfectly as it does if rules were meant to be followed.