Please welcome my guest, Mary, from Mary’s Nest today!

Once upon a time, Mary was a Washington attorney…until a sudden but wonderful turn of events found her married to a sweet guy 10 years her junior, pregnant at 40, and a new homemaker living in a small town outside of Austin, Texas.

My friend Mary’s blog, Mary’s Nest, is stories of her bumpy transformation from practicing law to perfecting homemaking. In a way, Mary has become a sister to me. Hard to explain, but I really love her … And every time she comments on RE, it’s always signed, Love, Mary.

So here’s Mary …

First, I want to thank Sandy for allowing me to grace the pages of her delightful blog. I have learned more from her about what it truly means to open your home to others than any of the plethora of books I have ever read about entertaining. And itʼs my hope, if youʼre hesitant to open your home to guests, that the story of my bumpy transformation from reluctant entertainer to welcoming hostess will help you realize that anythingʼs possible…

From Fussy Washington Attorney to Hill Country Hostess
When I was single, I prided myself on the fact that my home looked like a furniture store. It was immaculate and decorated to a T, without even a magazine out of place. To say I was a bit of a perfectionist would be an understatement! It was easy back then. Single and working as an attorney in Washington, DC, I found myself away from home for long hours. When I did return home, everything was the way I left it.

But one day, due to a serendipitous meeting at the airport, I soon found myself married, pregnant, and a new homemaker living in a small town in the Texas Hill Country. I was happy beyond measure but completely unprepared for what lay ahead.

Once our son was born, I was thrilled to be a mom, but I was also exhausted. Trying to cook three meals every day, wash an endless parade of dishes, clean a house that seemed to give birth to clutter, plow through mountains of wash, and most importantly care for a newborn baby were all things that were foreign to me…not to mention overwhelming. I wanted everything to be perfect but could barely get myself dressed in the morning let alone wash the floor! And when the pediatrician matter-of-factly reassured me over the phone that projectile vomiting from an infant was normal…I cracked. It was official. Our home was a wreck.

Entertain? Thatʼs Latin for Capital Offense
So I did what any sane person would do. I boarded up the front door, determined I would never let anyone set foot in our disaster zone of a house again. Unfortunately, my plan was thwarted by my fun loving husband. By the time our son was a toddler, my husband longed to be able to entertain. Against my better judgement, I finally acquiesced. Sadly though, he soon realized the error of his ways and was filled with regret.

In anticipation of the arrival of our guests, I barked orders at him like a shrew. “We have to clean up this mess now…how do we live like this!?!” Yes, he was filled with regret. And the sad thing about it all was that, yes, our home might have been messy, but it wasnʼt half as bad as this perfectionist thought it was!

Some time passed before my husband brought up the topic of entertaining again. Like childbirth, I think he forgot the pain and ventured another try at it. But the shrew reappeared and any future entertaining was put on hold…indefinitely.

A Happy Verdict In Sight
Luckily, there is a happy ending. Much to my husbandʼs relief, when my son was in pre- K, I learned about “FlyLady” from a handful of other moms. I was intrigued, but I have to be honest…It wasnʼt easy in the beginning. I wonʼt mislead you. My rehabilitation was a good year in the making. But the more I practiced FlyLadyʼs advice for “Fly Babies”, the easier it became to let go of my perfectionist nature and leave the world of CHAOS – Canʼt Have Anyone Over Syndrome – behind.

CHAOS – Canʼt Have Anyone Over Syndrome

And most important…both my husband and son have been all smiles with my transformation. Friends come and go, snacks and meals are served, feet are plopped up onto ottomans (and even the coffee table!), the dog sleeps on the couch, board games are pulled out of the closet, deep breaths are exhaled, and smiles abound. Weʼre all relived that the shrew was sent packing once and for all.

These days, I clean-up our “Hot Spots” (those areas that are magnets for clutter) after dinner and run the vacuum on Mondays in the heavily traveled areas of our home. If you ring my door bell in the middle of the day, youʼre likely to find things a bit out of place, but hopefully, overall, the feeling will be one of a welcoming air with a place to sit down and enjoy a cup of coffee with me by the kitchen fireplace.

The Heart of Entertaining
When it comes to entertaining, itʼs been more than just cleaning up a few Hot Spots that has brought peace to my domestic life. Itʼs also, Sandy, here at Reluctant Entertainer, whose writings have inspired me to be even more confident about opening my home to friends and family. Sandy encourages us to put the focus on making our guests feel welcome and comfortable…not worrying if things arenʼt perfect. It took me awhile, but Iʼve finally learned that itʼs not about me, our home, or the skill of my cooking…itʼs about the love and friendship that we offer to others.

My home is clean enough, the food is simple home cooking, and hopefully my guests feel welcome, relaxed, and look forward to returning.

Love, Mary

Here are some great posts by Mary:
Secret to Easy Meal Planning
10 Top Kitchen Items to Simplify Your Life
Intuitive Cooking
10 Steps to Organizing the Kitchen