I was recently in a large, very expensive home for a ladies luncheon. This was one of those homes with a fountain in the middle of a small courtyard and more rooms than I could ever figure out what to do with, even with six families living in it. The place was gorgeous, full of wall art from faraway trips and beautiful commissioned statues and paintings.
We live in a very affluent area…in order to find a home in our price range, we had to buy one without a kitchen, appliances, complete with truckloads of wallpaper, paneling, old dirty carpeting, and a home inspection report that could be a nice door stop. Our very old drafty home is very out of place here.
The home I described first, however, is commonplace. It was immaculately clean, even though our host was a mother of three middle and high schoolers. My little needed a diaper change, and I ducked into what appeared to be a third living room area, apart from the rooms our group were, in order to not have a stinky toddler bum out in the middle of conversation and delicious food.
After we finished the diaper change, I happened to glance around at all of the artwork and decor in this room, as beautiful as the rest I had seen. But then, I saw a small room off of this one, with glass panels on the top half of the doors. It was an office…and the state of it made my embarrassing craft room look organized. Books, papers, laptops, and just plain clutter covered every horizontal surface, including the floor. Piles upon piles of stuff everywhere. An intense game of hopscotch would have to take place to arrive at the mahogany desk.
I was not supposed to see this room.
After my accidental glance, better believe I ducked out of that living space quickly. It was too late though, my three second gawking left a mark burned into my brain.
I got to thinking on our way home. This family had hired help, and any resource they needed. Yet, they still had their disaster room, pushed off to the side as it was. It’s purpose was to be hidden from the public, but actually barely out of sight, accessible and practical.
Apparently, everyone has their embarrassing room, no matter how put together they and their life seem…is what I initially thought. It validated my own disarray, my inability to get it together. If she can have all the help she wants and older kids to do their part and still not have it totally together, then obviously it’s ok if I’m usually drowning somewhere, without having help and toddler.
And then I got to thinking a little further.
That little hidden side room of chaos…we all have one in our lives, in our heads. That room that’s purposely stuffed away out of sight from the general public. We put on airs of grandeur, trying to show our best and most beautiful parts, that we have things under control…when the deeper parts, the places we actually live in and use, are dirty, disorganized, cluttered, and confused.
Here’s the thing I’m wondering. What if she had spent less of her time obsessing over keeping up the front of the house in case of company…would she have had a little time to give to the office area? Or, what if the house was more balanced, where every room had a little piece of chaos in it, might that office look less out of place in her home? What if we applied these to our own lives? What if we spent less time obsessing over what the public, or our group of friends, saw in us, and more time just living in being ok with not being seen as perfection?
To me, I’m most comfortable in homes that look lived in, where the week’s mail is sitting unopened on the counter and it being filled with friends that don’t hide all of their disorganized parts.
We all have those disaster rooms – in real life, and in our thought life.
And I often find moms as the most guilty of those exhausting themselves with obsessing over the picture perfect. The truth is, everyone has that office, somewhere…the thing they shove away to deal with another, less perfect day. If we don’t try so hard to keep it stuffed away somewhere, I think we’ll find life a lot less lonely and a have a lot more support – because those visiting – your home and your life – all have it too.