So, my parents are visiting.  This is typically a once a year event.

Cue the fantasy: we walk into a well-appointed living room, a seasonally appropriate candle wafts sweet odors through the air, and upon entering the kitchen, you see a beautifully set table.

Enwrapped in an aura of hospitality, the mere oxygen in the room beckons: “you are welcome here!”

That was fun, wasn’t it?  Now, you are still welcome here, but here is my reality:

I’m fairly confident the guest bathroom will be clean and the folded laundry currently on the couches will be moved to allow seating.

I’m truly 50/50 on the kitchen floors still being sticky.

I’m quite certain the dust on our TV stand and the cobwebs in our vaulted ceilings will still be there.

 I’ll be honest: I did wrestle with this expectation management.  I weighed out my choices.  We could skip church tonight and I could clean.  Or, I could skimp on my kid’s school project due Friday to clean.  Or, in an event to do it all, I could go to church on Wednesday, knock out the school project Thursday, and be up till midnight or later in a frantic cleaning mode that resembles more like demon possession.

 Neither of these options work for me.  We genuinely enjoy the midweek service and want to go.  There are few cooler things in a Kindergartener’s life than the opportunity to dress up like a favorite book character, so skimping on the school project is a no.  (Side note: I cherish the uniqueness of our daughter, she could readily dress up like a princess, which would be great, however she wants to go as Arthur the Aardvark, so we are making her into a aardvark.  I’m not sure how, yet.)   Cleaning with demon possession would be really tough on my husband, who is still reeling from the Cub’s three losses to the Mets in the post season (Cubs are trying to take October!), so that option is also a resounding no.

Plan D: walk faithfully and confidently the path God has shown me thus far: I really enjoy working outside the home.  By that fact, our house is not always as ideally clean.  And there you  have it.   It is just as efficient, if not more so, and sets a better example for my kids, to accept reality and live gratefully.

What is more to the heart though, is the reality that deep down,  this battle of how to present our home was more about appearance, and show, and caring about what people think of me.  When you get down to it, it was really more about that coveted reaction that someone will walk in – this time – my parents – and say “she really has it together, she’s really doing well….”  It was more about that desire to impress, that need for a reaction.

Not this time, the ending is now different.  One of the best growing pains of my thirties is learning to put to death that burning need to people please that was so imprinted on my twenties.

 So, my parents are visiting.  They will likely not walk into a calm, immaculate home with two quiet children studiously reading.

Actually, we have blue marker on the kitchen table from a recent coloring exploit gone awry.  Our 2 1/2 half year old’s favorite word, the one he uses  incessantly, is “booty.”  We aren’t sure if he has a fascination with the posterior or if he is referring to a pirate’s treasure.  Any way you slice it, you’re going to hear “booty.”  A lot.  A whole lot of “booty.”  Sorry if that offends you.  We are trying to play this down.  And not laugh.  And discipline.  We value respect.  Though, just to be real,  a little extra booty can make you smile every now and then.  Also, that same two year old? He is currently experimenting with flying – you know like the birds.  Yes, we don’t really want him climbing onto the furniture and diving off – but at the end of the day we are really just trying to avoid blunt force head trauma.  Little boys play with gravity.  It happens.

And so, here it is.  We are T-2 days from the parent visit.  And I am redefining home.  Home is not about impressing people.  Instead, each day, we strive to create a nurturing place to love abundantly, forgive generously, and open wide our hearts – first to God, and ourselves, and to others.  Here, home is a place we’ll take us just as we are.  Spider webs, booty, and all.