Yesterday, while looking for a notebook small enough to fit in my bag for a publishing seminar I was attending at The Strand Bookstore (in Greenwich Village, my old stomping grounds), I happened upon one of my writer’s group prompts on messes. Here goes:
My first serious awareness of messes was when I had three sons, three-and-a-half years apart. Toys, blankets, bottles, diapers – it felt overwhelming as I
was one of those people who liked my surroundings clean and neat. But, as sometimes happens in life, things could get worse. I had another child, a daughter this time (thankfully) and my sons, now older were messier still.
Towels littered the bathroom floor after a shower. Why couldn’t they put them in the hamper? And don’t get me started on the laundries! Anyway, we had toys, books, video games, backpacks, jackets and towels as far as the eye could see, in all directions. It took me a while to stop cleaning every other second and leave the mess till the end of the day so I only cleaned once. Oh, and the clothing too, clothing lined the floors like pretty colored area rugs except that you could slip and die. And – this was a new one for me – drawers left open – OPEN! – with clothing dripping from them like trellised ivy. Are they trying to end my life?
My anxiety exploded at the mess and I had to wonder exactly what I was so anxious about. Was it my need for order, my desire to teach my children well, or the horrifying thought that a neighbor might stop in and think I was the worst housekeeper ever? I finally was able to corral the mess to their rooms, which made me feel like I had a sense of control (the things we tell ourselves…). They remain messy, all four of them, my anxiety and lectures fell on less than interested ears. Parenting, the longest classroom-less lecture you will ever attend!
My wife and I always had opposite views. She was like you and got all anxiety even when it was their rooms. My point was do it in your room I don’t care, you live with it. With half the kids peer pressure when friends visited or sleep overs made them clean their room. The other half couldn’t care less… my grandfather always told me a house with kids and mess is a home.
Your grandfather was a wise man – to think kids (and life?) isn’t messy is to be on a planet different from ours. Embracing our discomforts, particularly when people as important as our children are involved, is part of the price we pay to be parents and grow. In hindsight it seems a worthwhile trade.Thanks for your comment.
I nodded, chuckled and laughed out loud (scared my dog!) at this. I’m two up on you with four boys and two girls (I take it you don’t care to catch up?) and can soooo relate. Really glad to have found you!
Same, glad to have found you as well. Four boys and two girls! You win this race, I know you understand the mess concept. Happy blogging friend.
Any mother can relate to your desire to maintain order amid the chaos of parenting–but it’s a battle seldom won. When my three were small I used to go to my neighbor’s house for respite; it was always tidy. I remember commenting that I wouldn’t mind trading houses with her for a while, and Irene answered, “Yes, dearie, my house is clean; but it’s awfully quiet.” Sometimes, we don’t recognize our blessings when we’re in the midst of them!
Wise words, Celia – often we don’t recognize our blessings!
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