I realized recently that my house is a mess. And I don’t mean the kind of mess that can be cleaned up in under 20 minutes. I mean, it’s a MESS. No, it isn’t dirty (although it has days where it’s well on its way, of that I assure you) and if you take a step back and analyze it, you can see that it has some basic organization to it. But for the most part, as compared to what it was a year ago, my house is a mess.
I do not know how to change its state of messiness. Give my kids away? Hire a live-in maid? Never type another word or pick up a book again? Demand that no one touch anything, ever?
There are moments when I look around and I think, “This is life. This is parenthood. This is … this is just ok. It really is.” I see the (clean) dishes waiting to be stored away. I see papers and books (neatly) piled on the table or counters. I see the backpacks and lunchboxes thrown down (into their baskets). There are too many shoes (on the shoe rack) and there are too many coats (on the hooks by the front door we never use). I look at my daughter’s playroom – is it a mess or is it her work? (Most of the time it’s her work, and I know this, and I accept it, and you know, every now and then it’s a mess. But my husband always comes to the rescue. Always.) I see the unmade beds upstairs in our bedrooms (that we are lucky enough to sleep in) – the laundry baskets filled with clothes (that we are lucky enough to wear) – the toys and books left out (that we are lucky enough to own) – the towel from last night’s bath draped across the tub’s edge – the shampoo bottle on the floor – and the floors … oh, the floors … they needed to be swept and vacuumed three days ago.
And then there are moments when I look around and I’m embarrassed … or overwhelmed … or just confounded … I do not know how my life has come to this state of disorder. My mother’s house certainly never looked like this. The dishes were always put away. The laundry never piled up. We made our beds without a second thought. Toys did not get left out. I don’t know how my mother managed to keep the house going. She had a full-time job. She cooked dinner, every night. We took baths. We watched shows. We completed our homework. We all made it to bed at reasonable hours. There was no chaos that I can recall.
I’m struggling to figure out what’s ok and what’s not ok, what I can live with and what I can’t live with. I’m afraid if I live with the mess, it will turn into a disaster rather than controlled chaos. But I’m also afraid if I don’t live with the mess, then I’m causing more harm than good because my children will NOT remember the mess but they will remember the mother who hated the mess. So really, what’s easier … the temporary mess or the permanent memories?