Tuesday, June 28, 2011

My Achilles Heel and Impending House Guests

My mother was "nervous" whenever things were in turmoil, or otherwise disrupting the customary routine of house and home.  Too many people coming and going, commotion, noise, spilled drinks, wearing shoes in the house could all give her anxiety.  I'm sure it is genetic to some degree.  I have the same gene.  I also have paternal genes that love bare feet, sandy beaches, music, and coming and going, and a laissez faire streak, so I generally keep things in balance.

But, in two weeks we are expecting house guests.  Leon's half-brother, his (half?) sister-in-law, three of their young teen grandchildren and of course, Leon's mother.  It's not that I am unwelcoming or inhospitable. I genuinely want to welcome them to our home.

I am just "nervous" or in the modern vernacular, "anxious".  Six house guests plus Leon and I makes eight people and a dog in a house of 1100 square feet, including the sunroom.  Three small bedrooms (queen-size master, twin-size guest, no-bed office), a kitchen, a living room, (fold-out futon), the sunroom with a small dining table and porch furniture, an unfinished basement/garage and ONE BATHROOM.

I imagine luggage, clothing and electronic devices everywhere, personal hygiene products on every unoccupied inch of bathroom shelf; 2 gallons of milk in the fridge along with 124 cans of diet coke.  Stacks of paper plates, cups, napkins; every dish, coffee mug and drinking glass in the house in or around the sink; muddy footprints on the carpet and floors; dirty clothes and laundry being washed throughout the day; people waiting to use the bathroom; a fair amount of yelling and screaming; and the cry of "I'm bored" from the kids.

And then there's the anxiety around meals.  What will we feed them?  Dozens of hot dogs, hamburgers, and peanut butter sandwiches.  Lots of spaghetti.  Cereal.  Kentucky Fried Chicken.  My mother's mother had 12 kids.  I don't know how she fed them all.  Three meals a day.  She was a saint.  My mother did not get those particular genes.  Neither did I.

Leon and I and dog Benni will be turning over the house to our guests and going out to the end of our 300 foot driveway to live in the Camper/RV/Fifth Wheel/Trailer.  We have a queen size bed, a toilet and shower, a fridge and a kitchen/living area with TV.  I may just stay there for the duration, but the family would think that rude.  I've thought of going to another State for part of the time, but that would be rude also.

The thing is, having the "nervous" gene, I know my potential for losing it.  I can act calm and collected for three days, not let a thing bother me, go with flow, take things as they come...on the outside.  I can even fool myself.  But, unbeknownst even to me, things will be happening on the inside.  Anxiety will be brewing...creating resentments, feeding guilt, causing more anxiety...someone will comment that the burger is raw on the inside or that we're out of ice, or do you have a clean towel.  Someone will spill a drink, step on the dog and make him howl, or decide that we all take off for the day without considering the dirty dishes all over the house and yard, the laundry in the wash, how the dog will get fed, packing the cooler, or how we're all going to squeeze into their SUV.  Then I'll blow.

Knowing this does not necessarily give me the power to prevent it from happening.  I always think I am dealing with things pretty well.  I congratulate myself on how well I am doing.  Cool, calm, collected.  Mature, grown up, sensible, keeping things in perspective.  Then it happens.  I blow.  My anger and anxiety erupt.  I get agitated. I get more angry and anxious. I yell. I swear.  Everyone will feel bad.  I will feel worse.  I will go sulk.  They will go off and have a good time.

"Where did that come from?",  everyone will ask one another out of my earshot.  I couldn't tell them.

I've got 13 days to figure out how to get through this.  Any suggestions?


  1. I'd say sleeping in the RV is a great idea... gives you a bit of personal space.
    My suggestion would be not to cook, other than breakfast. Let them know ahead of time that lunches and dinners will be out so that expectations are set well in advance.
    I'm with you... I love seeing people but hate having house guests.

  2. The RV is a good idea for a safe space. I've had a houseful and to be honest it doesn't bother me.

    When Keyron graduated with his Bachelors degree we had the whole family here, his mother, her husband, his two brothers and their girlfriends. It went pretty well.

  3. There will be fighting, it's unavoidable. But then there will be reconciliation, and everything will be alright.

    If you want to get away, you could always commit a minor crime and go to jail for a few days. You get a place to sleep, three hot meals a day, and plenty of companionship, especially at night ;-)

  4. Pastafazul! Allegro non troppo! And whatasamattayou? You Italians, so fucking exciteable. I was married to one, so I can say that.

    If it were me, and thank God it's not, the first thing I would do is post a damn big sign in blood red letters saying YOU MESS IT UP, YOU CLEAN IT UP - OR ELSE.

    Craig's suggestion is a good one. But since you can't possibly not cook - see, I know how you are - I would start right now roasting a turkey and baking a ham, and making a lasagne or two to go in the freezer. So when the family arrive, you don't have to cook a fucking thing, it's already done. They want sides, hand 'em a can of beans and a can opener.

    I would also draw up a definite schedule: Monday, Sally does dishes, John does laundry. Tuesday, Mary mops, and Mike sacks the trash. Be proactive, plan it out like a general.

    Don't worry about seeming rude, they will actually love you for it. Until you go ahead and have a screaming fit anyway . . . but chances are, they'd be disappointed if you didn't.


  5. My parents used their RV as a pseudo guesthouse and people loved it.

  6. Thanks guys, I'll let you know how it all works out.



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