Something happened the other day. Something that made me see my life through someone else's eyes.
And oh crap, it wasn't pretty.
My neighbor came over to introduce me to her sweet little granddaughter. Now, I don't live in a typical suburban, covenant controlled, landscaped neighborhood. I live in a mountain neighborhood. And when I say "neighborhood" what I mean is a collection of roads, some paved, most not, with houses. And when I say neighbor, I mean the people I see once every few months if we happen to meet at the mailbox.
But I had run into Judy earlier in the week and she suggested we introduce my three kids to her granddaughter the next time she was up visiting from Denver. In fact, her son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter would be up visiting the following Thursday. Would that work?
Absolutely, I said. Then I promptly forgot.
Judy called that Thursday. Is now a good time to bring Alana over?
I looked around at the Mt. Everest size piles of clean and dirty laundry - who really knew what was clean at this point. I gazed sadly at the floor turned faux shag carpet from the accumulation of dog hair and a sharp decrease of vacuuming behavior. I couldn't even picture what the bathrooms looked like.
Yes! I said brightly. This is a great time. Let's meet outside. No way I was inviting them inside. Outside I could pretend I was the owner of a meticulously clean and organized home that smelled like cinnamon and fir trees and not stale pee and unwashed dog.
As the kids and I walk outside, I glance quickly at them and breathe a thankful sigh. They appear to be recently bathed, are fully dressed, which is literally amazing since my kids have started their own nudist colony, and even have shoes on. It's a good day.
So I saunter confidently down the driveway to meet Judy and her family. How very suburban of me, I think. But as we are walking, my kids get distracted by a rock and before I know it they have overturned the rock and discovered a colony of little black ants.
"Do these black ants bite, Mommy?"
"I don't think so, babe," I say half listening, focused instead on the family walking towards us and feeling quite smug as I think of my immaculate house and well-groomed children.
Then I hear giggles. Slightly hysterical giggles. I look towards the giggling. And there, on their knees by the overturned rock are all three of my children. Covered in ants. Little black ants crawling all over their hands, arms, back, feet and legs. My stomach turns slightly but then I envision how progressive I must look. I am a cool, mountain mom who encourages her children to "experience" the world around them. A progressive mom who (for all they know since we're outside) also has a spotless, straight from a magazine home.
Then I start to panic as I see the look of queasy horror on the face of Judy's adorable and very pregnant daughter-in- law.
I grab the kids and start swatting off the ants. At least they still look clean. "Hey kids, say hello to Alana!" I skillfully redirect. "Let's show her the play set!"
When we get to the play set, I quickly look around and notice a number of inside items my kids have randomly relocated outside. A sock. A spoon. A nightgown. Underwear. I attempt to nonchalantly kick the items underneath the nearest chair and soon discover that this sweet couple does in fact live in one of those beautifully maintained, covenant controlled or die neigborhoods with the same length driveways and matching mailboxes.
This does not look good.
The girls jump on the swings and start swinging maniacally. The play set begins to creak and the higher they pump the more the entire structure sways dangerously. Our craigslist purchase looks tired, haggard and well past its expiration date. Again, I try to divert their attention away from my failings as a yard caretaker and play set fixer by asking her when the baby is due. Suddenly it occurs to me that it is 3:00 in the afternoon and I don't recall looking in a mirror all day. A quick hand to my hair suggests that perhaps I haven't washed it in a while either. I have been training for a triathlon and I did have a race that evening but still....oh, and I was also wearing my pajamas. Really though, some days, what's the point of getting dressed? Pajamas are just so comfy.
This couple did look very nice though. Clean and showered. Wow. Their daughter's hair actually shined in the sunlight. As I mentally determined to start showering more often and to get dressed before noon I hear,
"Mo-mmy!! Look what I found!"
"What's that, Ella?"
Ella stops swinging, lifts her hand up high to show off her find and says, "Another RUSTY nail!"
Aw, give me a break.