Another mom is coming over for a playdate for the first time. As someone who is a recovering type-A-perfectionist with a good helping of social anxiety, I used to get extremely anxious.
“What will she think of my cookie-filled pantry?”
“What will she think of how I parent?”
“What will she think of how I keep the house?”
I’d see her lips pursed with disapproval, taking it in, and putting it on her list of things she doesn’t like about me. That one in her head that she compiles late at night when she can’t sleep. That list.
I’d wait for the criticism. I’d almost predict my own demise. I was afraid of the potential judgment coming my way---that I'd be exposed as not perfect. Oh, the horror!
Well, not anymore. I could care less about what people think. I have learned everyone is going to have an opinion. And, sometimes people and views don't jive, but that is more than okay with me. But, as a host, I have a few non-negotiables of my own. Oh yes, the tables have turned potential mom friend (insert evil laugh). Here are my “rules” if you want to keep being a welcomed guest at our house.
1). Don’t talk about my girls’ pulkies: I will point you to the direction of the front door for your grand exit for a comment like that (Okay, maybe not, I’d give you a nice warning, but please don’t). Yes, my girls have rolls of adorable baby fat. Trust me, I understand, and I know their leg rolls are so cute and loveable. I also truly understand feeling compelled to say something. My only request, keep it general. For example, say "she's so cute." I don’t want my daughter (my eldest is three!) to question what it means to have “pulkies” and realize that someone thinks her legs are “fat.”
2). Please don't talk about dieting and weight loss strategies: I don’t want to hear it being in recovery from an eating disorder. I don’t want my daughters’ hearing it, being susceptible to eating disorders due to genetics. If you are on the Keto or Alkaline diet, good for you, I’m glad it’s working out, but I don’t want to hear about it. You will not be the reason my daughters learn about dieting for the first time. I know eventually we will have to have this conversation, but I would like to put it off for as long as possible and keep promoting healthy moderation.
3). If you use the word “too” too much when talking about others at a surface level, let me explain. "He is too skinny." "She is too short." "Her hair is too frizzy." First of all, no one is “too” anything, everyone is themselves, and that's how he or she was beautifully designed to be. Second of all, I don’t need that much surface talk in my household. I don’t want my kids to think in those terms when talking about their own friends and themselves.
4). This brings me to, don’t talk about anyone’s size: All body shapes and sizes are acceptable, and not one is better than the next. We learn the messages about our bodies, through those who are around us, so I’d like to accept everyone as is, by not talking about anyone’s size. Not saying anything or not giving it attention is the best resolve to making something unimportant.
5). Please don’t judge my mess: Look, I am doing the best I can. I have two kids, I work from home, and if my house isn’t in grade A shape when you come over and you say something, I am not going to want to have you over again. Yes, and that means my physical appearance too. There is probably a reason why I didn’t get a chance to clean myself and my house up, like I was changing someone’s diaper or bathing my kids. Frankly, I’d rather be at a play space with the kids then scrubbing away. Stay-at-home moms with a messy house, trust me they have a reason for that mess. Also, life is messy. Every day is not easy and seamless (emotionally and physically) and I am not going to pretend it is. I am not ashamed of my mess, my struggles--any of it. Mess has given me character and made me into the person I am today. I think it does the same for my home.
I don't want you as a guest if you don’t accept others as is. I am done trying to be perfect. I am embracing the messiness that is life, and I urge you to do the same.