Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Mess Reader Unsure About Inviting Over Next-Door Neighbor

DEAR HARRIETTE: My neighbor recently had a baby, and I am so happy for her. I like her a lot and want to support her, but I do not want to invite her to my apartment. As much as I try, I am not neat -- my friends even call me a hoarder. My common areas are clean enough, but I am still embarrassed to invite her over.

Because my neighbor is staying at home, she has asked in one way or another for us to get together. I feel like it’s odd that I don’t extend an invitation to my place. Should I invite her over and let her decide? I am super private. I’m also always thinking I will get it together one day and have a tidy house. But right now, my next-door neighbor needs me. Should I open my door? -- Pre-Hoarder, Brooklyn, New York

DEAR PRE-HOARDER: Here is a perfect opportunity for you to face your demons as you reach out to your neighbor. You have not described the degree of your hoarding. If you believe that your home is unsafe for a child, it would be wise for you to get help to clear out your home so that you can safely invite a family with an infant to visit. If you are just messy, you can be honest with your neighbor and tell her that you want to invite her over, but you are concerned that your home might not be clean enough. Suggest that she come by alone first. If she thinks your common area is acceptable, you can invite her to bring her baby over.

Mothers with newborns need connection. If your home is not an unhealthy environment for her and the baby, your neighbor may be able to look past the mess.