Airing the Dirty Laundry

I have a carefully negotiated relationship with my family. We all love each other very much, but we have found over the years, boundaries and social constructs are useful to keep the peace. As a general rule, if you just tell people when, where and what behavior is expected, you get much more pleasant outcomes.

I have long contended I could have been hostage negotiator based on nothing more than my success at preventing a homicide when extended family Christmas celebrations were moved to another day besides Christmas Eve.

So when my doorbell rang last Sunday afternoon, I knew it was the neighbor kids. It absolutely could not be anyone else dropping by. My people know better. I guess this why my dad and stepmom burst into laughter when they saw my face upon seeing them through the glass door. All I could think was, “Are you kidding me?!” (OK, that’s the G-rated version of what went through my head.)

I was suddenly 15 again, worried I’d been caught with a messy room. I looked frantically around the house, knowing it was not up to visitor specs. Had I known they were stopping by, I would have picked up a bit. I hadn’t left the house all day and took a shower about 4:30 in the afternoon (don’t judge, you’ve done it) so I was wearing Curious George pajamas and my hair was wet. If I’d known there would be guests, I’d have at least worn a bra or something.

Speaking of underpants, Sunday is laundry day around here. I had mine in sorting piles on the kitchen floor, so my dirty drawers were out for viewing. Talk about airing your dirty laundry. We’re WASPS; we don’t. do. that. A chair in the living room was piled with clean clothes that I had every intention of folding before the week was over. but didn’t. (don’t judge, you’ve done it)

While there was nothing mean or ugly about my dad’s desire to see Monkey Boy and take us out to Mexican food, I don’t like to be unprepared. I don’t like what I know my house looked like through his eyes. I don’t like feeling like my insides are outside for review. There is nothing worse than being unimpressive to your parents. I don’t care how old you are.

I suspect my father is worried about me. I’ve always been very driven about my work, and it’s fair to be concerned about a work-aholic daughter with no job. I also suspect this visit did nothing to make him feel any better about my state of mind.

The trouble is, asserting your sanity is much like asserting your sobriety. The more you say, “I’m not drunk,” the more likely you are to have someone wrestle your keys from you. The more you say, “I haven’t gone crazy,” the more likely people are to believe you spend your days with the blinds closed sipping whiskey from the bottle curled in the fetal position in your bed. whimpering.

So here’s the unvarnished truth for all friends and family: I’m good. Things are fine. Please come visit any time you like. We’d love to see you. Just call first. So I can wear a bra or something.

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5 Comments

Filed under The view from here

5 responses to “Airing the Dirty Laundry

  1. I’ve always been the same way! In fact, when my parents lived out of state, I had time to secretly hire a cleaning lady before they would visit. Then they moved here… around the corner from me. I had to say “My house is normally messy and I sleep until noon on Saturdays. And if you don’t call ahead, I can’t promise David will be wearing pants.” So, they don’t usually call first – but they no longer comment on my laundry pile chair. Because yes, I totally have one! Sometimes two.

  2. Jim Herndon

    We’ve been there. It only took one time of not letting them in… Now you know why small insignicant presents are a tradition from my family to us. Loved the article.

  3. Smashing.
    And as the woman whose in-laws showed up 2 hours early for a Sunday cookout… And whose sister-in-law drove over 1-hour for an unannounced visit on Monday…
    I now have to wonder if they think I’m crazy.
    Nah. It’s probably my husband.
    Alas. I love your words.

  4. Ronya McLelland

    I love reading your blog. Keep it coming.

  5. The more of your blog I read the more I’m convinced we must be kinfolk.

    From the 4:30 shower to knowing that my Mom will find the dust behind the cactus because its the one place I didn’t have time to dust before she came over I am positive we are kindred spirits.