House guests. The calm before and after the storm.

Written before the storm:

Usually, I have a bit of the slob thing going on at home.  Today, even the electrical cord to the pencil sharpener has been dusted.   Not that my house guests – my mom and sister, due in tomorrow  – would mind a little lived-in ambiance, but I’m so excited to have them here, I can’t help myself.

But house guests are tough when you’re me.  As I scrubbed and cleaned over the past couple of weeks, there was no music blasting from the stereo, no play-list on my head phones.  It was quiet – just me and the vacuum cleaner.  Even when I’m in the car, I wait a few minutes to turn on the radio, otherwise the blast of noise is jarring.

Some families are naturally loud, and that’s not us, but we three ladies have lots of catching up to do, and we like to get silly.  There will be triple the energy and one third of the quiet that I’m used to.  And as much as I appreciate a good, deep conversation, I seem to get talked-out quicker than most.

And can I mention the bathroom?  When I need it, I need it.  Enough said.

Because my company this time is family, the commotion and disruption will be familiar if not entirely comfortable.  With other guests, there’s awkwardness to boot.  I never quite know what to do with those down times when we’re not eating or actively engaged in something.  Do we sit and talk all that time?  Can I desert them to go chill in my room for a bit?  Is it OK to leave them in the living room by themselves, or is that being rude?

I once had a friend – let’s call her Beth – whose sister was upset that Beth had invited a girlfriend to spend a couple nights with the family at their vacation home.  When Beth told this story, the group of listeners seemed baffled with the sister’s discomfort.  “I totally get it,” I thought, but as the lone sympathizer, I kept my mouth shut.

I’ve never asked my more gregarious friends how they do it – how they manage with house guests – because I’m embarrassed that I haven’t mastered such a basic relationship skill.  I suppose if it’s easy, they don’t think about it.  What about you?   If house guests are a challenge, how do you manage?

Written after the storm:

I walk around the house picking up stray half-finished cups of coffee and collecting sweaters and jackets borrowed by my warmer-weather women-folk.  I sit at my desk for the first time in a week to write this ending to my blog.  The quiet soothes me like the portable heater at my feet.  The bathroom is mine all day if I want it.  And I can’t wait for these wonderful women to come again.

12 thoughts on “House guests. The calm before and after the storm.”

  1. Hi Karen,
    I’m just now finding you. Your site was recommended by my colleague/mentor. She told me I’d enjoy your writing. She’s right, I am enjoying your writing… and learning more about you and your wit.

    As far as house guests–my house is so infinitesimal I rarely have guests who sleep here. I suppose it’s one way to keep the place to oneself. I also cherish my space and my quiet–to the point that when I re-married 8 years ago, it was quite the adjustment!

    When I have guests coming, I worry and fuss about everything being clean and right, and perfect. So much so that I stress myself silly. Well, maybe "silly" isn’t the accurate word… maybe… I stress myself into a tizzy. It’s awful. I think perhaps I hear my grandmother’s voice in my head, weighing-in on every little thing. But I live in an ADHD brain, so maybe you can imagine what a challenge I face in "tidying-up."

    I have only had guests stay at my house on 3 occasions in 14 years.
    I used to have a futon couch in my living room. One time I had a friend stay one-night there. After the futon was gone, our twin nieces stayed a week with us and camped-out on the living room floor and shared the hall-bathroom.

    And only one other time have I had guests. It was the first year I lived here, before my study–now my office–was cluttered and stacked with… you know… office stuff. There was actually room on the floor in here for an airbed (they stayed there). I can hardly believe it myself. I can barely walk through here now–but there’s a path.

    So I appreciate the efficiency and calm in your guest preparations. And I can relate to the contented sigh upon reclaiming your quiet space.
    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Paula, I’m so happy you found me. And this site was recommended? I’m so flattered! And -wow-you really went way back to the beginning of my blogging. I hope you enjoy it as much as your mentor suggested. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I can imagine that getting re-married would involve lots of adjustments; if it’s lasted 8 years, it must be working. I guess it’s a trade-off – give up some quiet and gain some love. It’s not a bad deal!

  2. The feeling is very true. When the guests are going to come, I just don’t want them. But when they are there, I adjust. Then when they leave, I have mixed feelings. Part of me feel relaxed, part of me want to make them stay.

    1. Yes, there’s a unique blend of dread and longing, for me at least, before they come and after they leave. In the middle is adjusting – you’re so right. Thanks for your comment.

  3. Dear Karen: I understand. I love the hustle and bustle but I love the quiet and serenity and the seclusion more.

  4. As one of the "Wonderful Women" who was visiting(your mother) I am glad that you have your space to yourself again. I am also grateful to be back in my space. See you in CA in Dec.

    1. Having our own space is something to be grateful for! Even so, I look forward to sharing yours in December. XXOO

  5. Thanks Theresa! Yes, I think we are definitely not alone in this respect, even when it seems like we are. Hopefully you can enjoy some quiet time this weekend!

  6. Karen, thank you for sharing. I understand completely how you feel and I have always found guests in my home challenging; no matter how much I love them. I really enjoyed this quick read to start my day and it’s nice to know someone else feels this way.

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