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"Your house is full of love"

Beautifully imperfect. Group selfie by cousin Laura, April 2023.   My house was a disaster. Busted toys festooned the family room, old food dotted the dining room floor, diaper odors lingered in the upstairs bedrooms. Despite my best effort to present a clean, calm home to my relatives visiting from Italy, I could not overcome my persistent children, and I prayed my cousins would not judge me too harshly for the clutter and commotion because I did not know enough (read: any) Italian to explain it to them. While I have never felt pressure in my hosting life to present magazine-worthy room decor to my guests, I do consider "no visible food chunks" and "no discernible smells of excrement" to be the minimum viable product, and not being able to consistently meet even this low threshold in my current season of parenthood is a constant source of stress. My inner battles wage: Should I apologize? Should I accept it? Should I keep pouring wine until no one sees the mess? My

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