January 29, 2014
Embracing a messy life
They leave little messes all over the house. They're there when I get home from work; they're there when I wake up in the morning. I notice them with a growl and a sigh as I step over them to get to the coffee maker, or move things on the couch so I can sit down and enjoy my first cup. When I walk into my son's dark bedroom to wake him up, I trip over them. They pile on my office floor. And strewn across the dining room table at any given time, there they sit, making me crazy. Those little clutter piles, shoes, books, drawings, bags, stacks of mail, all the contents of my husband's pockets...they annoy me to no end. But try as I might, pushing my family to the level of order that I require just doesn't work.
Oh, they try. Sometimes. But, they forget. Not because they don't value a clean home (they appreciate that more than they know) and not because they take for granted that mom will take care of it because she's a neat-freak like that (although I do think they assume that occasionally). No. They just don't need it to be as tidy as I do. When their stuff is in a pile by the door, it's easily accessible and won't need to be found in the morning when they need it. That pile of odds and ends and change from my husband's pockets? We'll it's going right back in, so why would he put it away?
I'm not saying no one should clean up their stuff. I couldn't breathe if everyone just gave up putting their things in the proper places. And I'm pretty sure they'd all be concerned if I up and stopped the record player that is my litany of requests to "put it where it belongs....and if you can't find a home for it, you'll have to get rid of it." My son has become a genius at finding "homes" for things. For, in his little mind, nothing is meant to be thrown away. Every little scrap of paper, tiny plastic toy, and t-shirt that no longer fits is dear to his heart. And he comes by his "packrat" mentality honestly. My husband is nearly as bad.
And then there's me. I'd just as soon put it in a bag and drag it to the thrift store as put it away -- one. more. time.
That's not to say that I don't create my own clutter. Because I surely do. I think they annoyance comes, though, from knowing that I'm the only one who's is really bothered by it...and therefore, I'll be the one left to pick it up...or request that it be picked up by someone else. There is actually a chore in our house called "clutter patrol"...and it has to happen on a regular basis. Mostly because the little messes drive me crazy and make it seem as if the house is actually dirty, which it isn't.
Oh sure...I could really become a Nazi about the whole thing. I could rant and rave and groan and buy bins and label them and neurotically require everyone to put everything away in it's properly marked spot. But I know that will be an impressive failure. Why? Because even now, the dirty socks sit right beside the laundry bin...on the floor. The back pack is 3 feet from the hook where it should be hanging. The "properly marked spots" already exist. It's just that no body seems to care about them. Maybe if I made it a game and gave away prizes...or if I added a monetary incentive...or if I threatened someone with an early death...I could get them to put their stuff away...every time.
That got me thinking...why do I try so hard to keep it all together? What exactly is the point? Especially when, no matter what I do, even if I can control my own messy life and keep some semblance of outward order, I most certainly can't control anyone else's.
It's not that I'm planning to stop asking everyone to put their things away. Someone has to do it, after all. But, I can let the little messes stop bothering me so much. I can look away sometimes. Even better, I could learn to embrace them.
After all, every little mess is a reminder that someone I love lives here. Really lives here. They leave their mark all over this house, and in all honesty, if those little messes weren't here, my house would lack personality. The clutter in our house is evidence that we are here, inhabiting this space, making it our own. I'd much rather have their little messes than not have them and instead have a home that looks like the airbrushed perfection on the cover of Better Homes & Gardens.
That isn't my life anyway. My life is a blissful, glorious little mess, full of love, and laughter,a nd activity...and we have the clutter to prove it.