Last week, we had company (okay, in-laws) coming in town on Wednesday evening. Wanting the house to be spic-and-span, I had a three-day cleaning approaching mapped out in my head. But on Monday, my sister called asking me to take her to urgent care. However, while we ate lunch and put in phone calls to various medical facilities, the bright red swelling began spreading up her leg and it became clear that urgent care wasn’t going to cut it. Our plan quickly evolved to a visit to the ER and more than a passing acquaintance with our local infectious disease center over the entire week. Suddenly, a little bit of dog hair at the house was the least of my concerns and I was reminded of some other people who seemed to embrace the proverbial dog hair a little more fully.
My many years as a nanny allowed me to observe a wide variety of families at their most vulnerable – at their homes. The last family I worked for probably had a more chaotic house than any I had seen – but they had fun. They spent huge amounts of quality time with their kids and wouldn’t hesitate to leave dishes on the table to make a last-second dash to the general store for ice cream treats. Baths could sometimes go one more day in favor of a sibling backyard soccer game. I never worried about covering the dining room table with frosting drippings because I knew they would value the cookie-decorating experience I had given their kids more than they would worry about the mess. The kids were amazing travelers and took the unexpected in stride. However, their sometimes complicated medical life was highly organized and never neglected, because that’s one thing that really matters. Dirty dishes? Less so.
And that’s how my sister ended up helping me while I shuttled her to various doctors. The real things that matter aren’t a perfectly organized house where you can eat off the floors but people to run, bike, hike, climb, ski and live life with. Very few memorable life experiences come from scrubbing floors.