When my kids were teenagers I frequently felt like I was operating a 24-hour diner – and all the parenting authorities were adamant that I should keep my mouth shut and just “go with it.”

“You want your children to feel comfortable in your home,” they advised. “You don’t want them to seek sustenance (read: more dangerous substances) elsewhere,” they admonished.

So I resigned myself to the situation, donned the cap of a short-order cook and cleaner, and accepted the fact that there would be an almost-constant pot of macaroni boiling on the stove.

As they got older and some got married, all the Jewish holidays began to take on that 24-hour diner quality, minus the macaroni on Passover. The kitchen light was always on and so was the stove. Something was always cooking and someone was always eating! I learned that even all those elaborate holiday meals weren’t enough to keep the crowd sated and I made peace with the fact that the fridge should always be full and the kitchen always open – even when, as in our home in LA, our bedroom was right across the hall.

Our bedroom is now a more manageable distance away (although the sound still travels) and the visits of our children and grandchildren are no longer limited to holidays and mid-winter vacation. Every Saturday night, the flame bursts open on the stove and the pot of pasta begins to boil.

Not only is it fine, it’s wonderful. Because having my family feel totally at ease in my home is what it’s all about.

So if the (new) furniture isn’t quite pristine (I appreciate that my daughter got the highlighter off the ottoman) and if there’s some crayon on the walls (at least I used washable paint) and a few chips here and cracks there and even the odd broken bowl, it’s worth the price. The material things are so trivial compared to the joy and pleasure of my little visitors (and their parents too).

It might seem unnecessary to state this. No one in their right mind would choose a living room out of Architectural Digest over their grandchildren… or would they? We know that’s a foolish accounting but sometimes we let our desire for control and order get the better of us. And if we go too far, it can, God forbid, damage our relationships. Our children may choose not to visit. And where would I be then? In a very neat, very elegant – very sterile, lifeless home.

So I’ll take the mess and the constant cooking and the chaos and the clothing hanging over the banister and the gum stuck to the floor (well maybe not that!) – because the gift of children and grandchildren is totally worth it. As long as their parents help clean it all up…