If you're following all the rules, you're missing all the fun. -- seen embroidered on a towel at a gift shop today.
I love that, and it got me thinking. I'm pretty good at deciding which "rules" of writing I want to flout. As a teacher, I like rules . . . although I use them more as "guidelines for behavior." My students call me a comfortist, and I'm sure they're right. I don't like conflict, and following the rules can help one avoid that.
After browsing the gift shop with my best friend, we went to the new local coffee shop, run by the parents of a former student of mine. It's in a historic building, and the proprietors did most of the renovation work themselves. Renovating took months, but the shop is absolutely gorgeous. It gives me hope for my own house. (BTW, I've been taking photos of the in-progress renovations this week, and I'll be posting those soon.)
The funny thing was, the combination of that "rules vs. fun" towel and seeing Joe and Patty at the coffee shop helped made a recent nebulous realization concrete. For months, no visitors except my mom and dad have been allowed into our home. I freaked out last week because I cut the corner of the kitchen to find my DH's best friend in the living room, borrowing a tool. He'd actually allowed Mike into our house, the way it looked!
Later on in that same week, Monster #1's best friend invited him over to play. He went, with me assuring friend's mom that we'd reciprocate with an around-town activity and apologizing at the same time for the ever-growing evidence of renovating at our house. Renee laughed -- she and Mark just spent three years doing what we're doing now. She understands how I feel, but she also said that even though they're not completely finished (they're down to finish trim and some electrical stuff), she'd told her son that Monster #1 could come over for a sleepover soon, with the realization that kids didn't care what the inside of their friends' homes looked like.
And you know, she's right. Both of my Monsters have newly renovated, decorated rooms. Their bathroom is also newly madeover. Their end of the house is clean and attractive. The living room is full of boxes and furniture from rooms we're working on, and we pulled the carpet up months ago and are walking on plywood, but who cares? Would their friends look at the plywood, the plastic-and-duct-taped hole in the ceiling where we ripped out the fireplace, and judge us?
Lots of people would, but my kids' friends? Surely not.
Then I thought about my best friend, who loves me dearly. About my sisters, with their lovely homes, who've been banned from my home because I was ashamed to let anyone see the chaos.
Did Mike think less of the DH because there were tools and pieces of paneling scattered across the living area the day he came to borrow a hammer? Probably not.
So what am I so worried about?
A rule, that's what. An old ingrained, Southern rule that anything less than a perfect house isn't fit for company (a high school friend's mom used to say it wasn't convenient for anyone to die when the house was a mess . . .). And believe me, my house was and continues to be a mess . . . probably will be for at least six more months.
If you're following all the rules, you're missing all the fun.
So for the next six months, until the house is finished, here's the deal: the house is relatively clean, despite the chaos. It isn't the prettiest thing ever (in fact, right now, it's pretty darn ugly still.), but I love my sisters and my friends more than having a perfect house. I want my children to have their friends over. I want the DH to be able to have his friends come in without my having a duck fit afterwards.
I'm thinking I may break that "a less-than-perfect house" rule. I'm tired of missing out on the fun. And if anyone wants to think less of me for walking on plywood right now, well, who needs him/her, right?
What rule are you ready to flout? C'mon, you know you have one. Share.