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Saturday, July 16, 2016

Move Over, Perfection

My name is Eliza, and I am a recovering perfectionist.

Fellow nesters: we are inundated with television shows and magazines that demonstrate how to host perfect casual events. The food is always flawless and the house is always spotless and perfectly decorated. Never mind that it took a team of professionals to make those events look so good, or that they are hosted by professional chefs and designers. I can't tell you how many "tips for hosting an easy weeknight party!" articles I've read that included making calligraphied signage and buying $150 worth of artisanal desserts. These things are not realistic for me, but I want them to be.

I love to host spontaneous gatherings, but I sometimes turn down opportunities because I am mortified at the idea of people knowing our laundry hamper is overflowing or that I don't always make our bed before going to work. My desire for perfection can get in the way of opportunities for laughter and good conversation. But why do we have to have a home that looks like no one lives in it in order to be a good host? Will our friends be offended by the stack of bills on our counter or clean, folded laundry on our dryer? If our decorating is a work-in-progress, is our home any less worthy of being seen?

My husband lies at the opposite end of the spectrum from me: we could be completely out of toilet paper and have dirty dishes piled everywhere and he would still invite people over. Slowly, we are learning to meet in the middle.

I vacuumed 2 days ago and already
the tumbleweeds have returned.
Some things are non-negotiable: cleaning the bathroom, vacuuming the common areas, scooping the litter box, and doing at least a quick dusting are all things on which I will not compromise. There is a difference between imperfection and "eww." No one wants to hit up the chips and dip then see a tumbleweed of husky fur roll by or catch a whiff of cat poo.

For unplanned events this has translated into the "head start" policy: if we spontaneously invite people over we ask for a 10-15 minute head start to ensure those essentials have been attended to before folks arrive. For planned events I still like to deep-clean the house: wiping down baseboards, airing out the house, and arranging fresh flowers in each room. We'll bathe and brush the kids, poop-scoop the yard, plan a menu, and stock the bar.

But if I'm honest with myself I really can't say those "perfect" events are any more fun than the scruffier version. Sometimes it's the spontaneous events create the best memories. Regardless of the state of my baseboards people continue to come back, and that's all I really wanted.

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