Decorating and a Deep Thought

17 Aug

There is nothing that makes you look at your home quite as critically as when you know company is coming. I have not thought about decorating or home improvements since March – the last time I entertained. But last week I was hosting my card group, and that made me wake up and smell the potpourri – or lack of it. So I took inventory of my house to-dos.

First, there was the general clutter. My clutter is somewhat organized. It’s actually stacked, but it’s still clutter. Stacks of children’s coloring books and other art supplies. Stacks of bills, mail and yet another One Step Ahead children’s catalog. Stacks of newspapers and magazines.  And stacks of folded laundry.

to do list

The way I deal with the stacks before an event is to stick them in closets or under beds. Unfortunately, I usually do this in a mad rush 30 minutes before guests arrive. The next day I have a hard time remembering where things are, and it may be three weeks before I locate the drawer or closet in which I concealed my bank statement and Visa bill.

Then there is the home decor aspect. I have intended to repaint the family room since last summer. The living room has a sofa, a nice rug and our extra dining room chairs – but nothing else. In the dining room, my children have played with the curtains, and the rods are coming out of the wall. Paint is peeling in the downstairs bath. There is nothing on the walls in my four-year-old’s room. The shrubs outside are growing above the kitchen window. The upholstery on the patio furniture needs repairs. And the list goes on …

Before parties I have been known to go into full-blown Martha Stewart mode. Having the carpets cleaned, touching up paint, planting flowers. This time, I was just lucky to get the knee-high grass cut.

It occurred to me that I may have put more time and energy into decorating my freshman dorm room than I have my four-bedroom house. I certainly put more energy into RE-decorating my husband’s place after we got married (Hey, I had to put my mark on it – and how many golf prints can a woman live with?) When I was younger, I was interested in decorating. It was fun. I was creative. It was a hobby. It was before I had two children who take most of my time, energy and money.

 As you know, I am almost forty. I am married. I have a family. I live in a neighborhood with half-acre lots. People like me are supposed to have “grown-up” homes. I always envisioned that by the time I was this age my house would be completely decorated like my mother’s.  It’s surprising to me that after nearly five years in my house I still have half empty rooms and bare walls, but it’s even more surprising that it doesn’t bother me that much – unless I have company coming.

 The example of my house is one reason I am writing this blog. I have found myself at 39 – which is not old, but not exactly young either – seeing very clearly that our lives don’t always reflect our notions of adulthood. An under-decorated house is not a big deal considering many other issues we face in midlife. But I think many of us find ourselves at this age, and it’s not what we anticipated. Not that it’s better or worse – it may just not look like what we imagined – sort of like my house.  The good news is that our 40s mark the halfway point in life, so we’ve got many more years to realize our vision of being a grownup – whether that vision is family, a new career or a goat farm.

Clutter and half-empty rooms are not hard problems to solve. And having the card group over helped me identify an easy remedy: Have more parties. That way, eventually, I will be motivated to paint, hang pictures and find bins for all my stacks. Now, if I can only find the Visa bill.






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