I am a hypocrite.
Dyed-in-the-wool. Die-hard. Deep-seated.
Perhaps you’ve seen my work:
“You’re your own worst critic. You look great!”
“You deserve it! Do something nice for yourself.”
“Don’t worry about it, girl… I’m coming to see you, not your house.” (This one is my personal favorite.)
You may not recognize this as hypocrisy, because these encouraging words aren’t hypocritical at all… until you’re armed with the fact that I scoff when someone else (usually my husband) offers these words of encouragement to me.
In my house, word of an unexpected visit can bring my entire family to its collective knees. The ever-so-brief moment of excitement is quickly replaced by utter panic. And horrible, ear-splitting noise. It’s sort of like the Running of the Bulls in a house on an elevated foundation. “Pick up your shoes! Somebody wipe the toothpaste out of the sink! Get your underwear off the floor!” Followed by the thought that if I hide the car and sedate the kids, maybe our company will think we’re not home.
The cruel irony is that I love when friends stop by. I count myself lucky to have incredible friends, and I am humbled by the fact that they take time out of their lives to visit us. But I am tormented by the fact that my house never looks the way I think it should when they arrive. And woe be to the family member who suggests that it just doesn’t matter.
“You just don’t get it! I’m a mom and a wife. It’s what I do. It’s my job to take care of this house. When people come over and the house isn’t clean, it doesn’t fall on your shoulders. And it doesn’t fall on your dad’s. It’s all on me. I’m the one that looks bad when the house isn’t clean!!”
Wow. In less than a minute I have reduced my amazing friends to shallow, judgmental people who are only stopping by to bask in the fact that their houses are so much cleaner than mine. (Makes you glad we’re friends, doesn’t it?)
And though my credibility is probably shot right about now, I can assure you that my encouragement to my friends is sincere. It isn’t just lip-service. I really, truly mean it.
It’s just that when the bad outfit is mine, it amounts to so much more than self-criticism. And shopping for myself is so indulgent. And clearly my house is much dirtier than everyone else’s.
The greatest irony of all is that I truly have amazing friends. They are the kind of people you could call in the middle of the night. Or in the middle of a crisis. The kind of people who know my faults but love me anyway. Who never expected me to be perfect. And who would never in a million years judge me for my housecleaning impotence.
So this is my apology to you all for inadvertently selling you short. And for undermining my own credibility.
And I promise to never, ever hide my car.