After two weeks.
For one week I had a girlfriend here. We hadn't seen each other in probably three years. We had a lot of fun, but I was exhausted by the time I dropped her off at the airport. Scratch that, I was exhausted after the first night. The girl has some energy.
The same day she left, in came my sister-in-law and my very small niece and nephew. Then I discovered what energy really was. They were here for a week, as well.
It's fun having company, but it's a lot of work. For one thing, you have to be "on" all the time. You have to be able to roll with the punches, and you have to understand that your house will be noisy (all the time!) and that some people actually like to sit down at a dinner table rather than eating standing up over the stove.
Working from home was an even bigger challenge. Of course your guests understand that you're going to have to put some hours in. They will kindly say, "Go ahead and do whatever it is you need to do! Don't let me stop you! Just act like we're not here!"
Act like we're not here.
Act like Disney Movie isn't blaring on the surround sound. Act like you don't have to run the dishwasher for the eightieth time that week. Act like you don't see your friend pouting because for ten minutes she doesn't have anything to do. Act like you can have one clear thought. Act like you aren't contemplating working in your bedroom walk-in closet because hey, the bureau would make a good desk, and you can still get internet in there. Act like you're USED to eating dinner at 5:30 and not 8:00. Act like you love that you can't make any noise after 9p.m. Act like you enjoy sitting in your car to make business calls because that's the only quiet place sometimes.
I got home from the airport yesterday, and when I walked back into the empty house? I bawled like a baby.
It was foreign to me. Why am I crying? That just made me cry harder.
But then I thought about it later, and I realized that while I truly loved the company that I had, there was an underlying stress and pressure to be the best hostess ever and try to keep my business afloat. I was forever trying to be Patty Pleaser. And once the pressure was off, there was a huge release.
One super funny thing that happened? A client was kind enough to come by my house one day to have me sign some papers. I had never met him in person before. When he came to the door, I opened the door wide enough for just me to stand in the door jam, for I had two little ones that I had been playing Legos with behind me, and I didn't want him to think I was running a day care on the side.
So what did my almost four year old niece do? She laid on the floor behind me and peeked between my legs which were spread a bit. And then she got her Barbie doll and proceeded to give the client a puppet show. Although he and I both acted like it wasn't happening, I was laughing so hard inside. Mostly because I noticed that she'd make the Barbie sorta hop up and down and shake a little when I was talking. Like the Barbie was me, and she was acting out my conversation. I never signed papers so fast in my life. Although a part of me was embarrassed, I loved loved LOVED how funny she was.
And also because Barbie was wearing a kick-ass bikini.