Recently I had the chance to stay at the home of a friend-of-a-friend. Her home was beautiful. It was a fairly new house--built in the last 5 or 10 years, I would say. It had a lovely stone fireplace, tasteful wall decor, immaculate carpets (think beige--LOTS of beige) lovely furniture suites upstairs and down. It was also sparklingly clean. Like, even with 4 children who are alternately there (due to custody issues) and 4 dogs it was sparkling.
It would be almost impossible not to contrast it with my house.
My house was built over 100 years ago. It is a comfortable late Victorian (which means it doesn't have any gingerbread trim, but it does have a great porch and many funky roof angles and walls that stick out in funny places). It is in DIRE need of a new coat of paint on the outside (but first we have to fix all the places where the racoons or the wisteria ripped off bits of the siding).
It is not in a suburban neighborhood full of it's clone. We have one neighbor whose house is our home's "sister", but all of the other houses are in MANY random styles. There is not a lot of "taupe" or "beige" in our neighborhood. There are a lot of mature trees and amazing flower gardens.
Our furniture is that classic style "early thrift store". Not one piece matches another. EVERY single wall (and every other surface for that matter) has been written on by SmallDaughter. I refuse to repaint while she is still in the active picasso phase. I also refuse to get new carpet while she still dumps stuff. So our whole house has strange 1950's era avacado green and algae colored wool carpet--that ALWAYS comes clean, no matter what she has dumped on it (bubble bath, hershey's syrup, yellow mustard...)
It is not imaculate. Even when I clean and clean, I still can't get it to "immaculate". It is not filthy, but it is definitely lived in, and the fact that I personally can overlook something in the middle of the floor and step over it for MONTHS does nothing to help that.
With all that said, our house is full of life and laughter. Spills and messes are not crises, just something to clean up. Everyone is free to try creative endeavors, because we are not thwarted by the fear of messing up the perfection. All of the neighbor kids cook in my kitchen. My yard gets played in daily. My porch is never boring!
My funny looking raised gardens out back are thriving. The chickens behind the barn are fat, healthy and contented. I like them a lot more than I ever imagined that I would. My children are kind, funny, creative and polite. What more could I want?