My house is a far cry from spotless. I have more than my share of dust-bunnies and crumbs, and windows and mirrors with seemingly permanent smears and smudges. But despite all these shortcomings, I like my house to have…. in a word: order. Although my mother would likely claim otherwise (keeping a mess-free and tidy room was not one of my strong suits as a child), something about having tidiness-challenged college roommates--who would be content to let a spilled drop of grape jelly sit on the counter until it had colonized--assisted in my metamorphosis into someone who wants a house that is neat and orderly. I like things to have their place, where they can be put away (preferably behind closed doors), and clutter is my biggest house-keeping frustration.
When my husband and I got married seven and a half years ago, we both had full-time jobs, and I was going to graduate school – so although I didn’t have an abundance of time for cleaning, neither of us were home enough to really make much of a mess. But when our first child was born a couple of years later, I became a stay-at-home mom. At first I only noticed an increase in the amount of laundry (how many diapers can one child blow through in a given day?!?). But slowly as he grew, and especially when he became mobile, the chaos began….
And now, add a few more years and two additional children (all 3 of them under the age of 5), and I often feel as though I have lost complete control over my once orderly house. What happened?!? How is it that it seems like all I do is clean up messes, and yet every time I turn around, another mess has appeared? My youngest (15 months) is currently in that “tornado” stage – racing from pulling all the books out of the bookshelf, to digging in the dirt or pulling leaves from my plants, to getting into the box of rice from the pantry and dumping it all over the carpet – and that’s just in the two minutes I get a day to use the bathroom! She’s definitely a whirlwind, and seems dead-set on destroying any sense of orderliness I may create, but she’s 15 months – and doing exactly what she should be doing at her age.
Just yesterday she was dumping out a small garbage can that we keep by our computer with papers and receipts when she came upon a yellow leaf I had just plucked from the ficus plant in our entry way. Two seconds later, she was over at the plant, and just as I was about to scoop her up to keep her from throwing piles of dirt, I noticed that she wasn’t digging in the dirt… She was holding the yellow leaf up to the plant, earnestly trying to reattach it, because she has associated that leaves have a “place.”
Maybe all hope of orderliness is not lost on my children after all...