I could clean. I mean, I could. I know that. I did. Just today, I’ve done two loads of laundry, made three beds, four loads of dishes. I woke up this morning and did laundry before coffee was ready, even.
But you’d never believe me if you could see my house right now. My dining room (which was actually cleaned off, completely, earlier today, I swear) is now covered in jewelry boxes, Dora dollhouses, and Polly Pocket shoebox-sized cottages. I’ve got a bunch of mardy gras necklaces under the table, and a Target bag full of clothes to be returned again. On the upside, it turns out that Jessie (previously known as She-Who-Does-Not-Grow) actually did grow, and now all the pants I bought her are too short. My desk has a play phone under it, and more necklaces. The wall separating the dining room and living room are lined with overnight bags from my stepdaughters, and shoes. Real shoes, play shoes, flip flops and sandals.
(pretty sure that according to this, my kids must be out of their minds with joy)
The dining room has two girls, playing dollhouses. These two have been playing dollhouses for the past ten years. I’m pretty sure if you swing by my house in another ten years, they’ll be home from college, and will promptly set up all the houses and boxes and figurines and go to town. Because that’s what they do.
The living room has one teenager in the rocking chair, alternately texting and watching Shrek 2 with the little ones. Julie is half naked, because that’s how she rolls, and she and Sam are sitting on the floor (a floor riddled with books and bags and plastic vacuum cleaners and wooden food), sharing some popcorn.
I’m a person who dislikes clutter. I’m always envious when I see living rooms that are spartan and clean. Houses where everything is in it’s spot, and it’s spot is never the middle of the carpet. But that’s not my life. My life has five kids, and usually a lot more (today, I had one of my cousin’s daughters over for a while, and Sam had an all day play date with his best friend). The house is just going to be a disaster, and the best I can do is minimal upkeep. I declutter every few months, and it makes no discernible difference. The clutter magically reproduces itself to replace what’s been removed.
And while I’m not always very good at this, I’m trying to be okay with it. I try not to automatically apologize for the mess when someone stops by. I try to not be grumpy and miserable when I look at the mess all over the table I just cleaned. I try to have a little perspective – I’ve got three perfectly happy, healthy children, who are creative and imaginative. I’ve got stepdaughters who love coming over, and fit into my family perfectly because they belong here. I’ve got family and friends who come visit, and their kids are always happy to be here, because my house is a happy, FUN place to be. Even if you do trip more often than not coming into the living room. And there’s constantly at least one outfit of Julie’s on the floor because she changes her clothes several times a day, and she’s not so great with the whole concept of a dirty clothes basket.
There will come a day when my house will be clean, and I will be grateful. I might be lonely, I might be wistful and longingly looking back on days like today, when Marc rushed out the door to work after spending the afternoon with us at the pool. When my stepdaughters and Jessie had spent the day at the mall and came home, smiling and happy about being together, when Julie was happily half naked, with two french braids (because she’s figured out that if it’s braided, it doesn’t get massive knots) and Sammy is grubby and tired after a full day of wrestling his best friend. I will miss this – but I will luxuriate in my spartan living room, where I can put down a book and know it’ll still be there when I come back.