I am a messy person. I’ve been messy since I was born. I’m not kidding. I popped out and grabbed twelve swaddling blankets and threw them about the room. Then, I politely asked the nurse for another one because I had lost the others. Coming home from school, I would violently kick of my shoes. They landed where they landed. The only time I cleaned my room was when my mom would say I couldn’t (insert fun activity here) until I cleaned my room. I had chores. I did chores. I had to help clean the house. I don’t think I can blame this on my parents. I’m scatterbrained inside and out. The best part about this issue is that clutter makes me crazy. It actually makes me feel icky. I am so much sharper and happily in an organized space, but it is in my very being to be messy.
I never really addressed this issue until I had kids. Imagine being a very messy person and then adding two kids to the mix. I clean, they destroy. I mop, Juliet spills milk or throws sticky strawberries to the floor. I pick up the kitchen table, Jack decides on a new craft to begin which of course, I always encourage. You’d think you could just have kids that pick up after themselves, and while we are working on that there is one thing “they” didn’t tell us parents. And that is that forcing your four year old child to clean up his mess is even more time-consuming and exhausting than just cleaning it up for him. Usually, I don’t clean it up for him, but sometimes I am too tired to give him step by step instructions as he dramatically and at a snail’s pace picks up each individual googly eye before we’ve even started on the crayons or paper.
I’m in this weird vortex of kind of being a working mom and kind of staying home. I work about twenty hours a week. Some nights, the kids have to stay at Amyre’s for my overnight work trips, but most nights, I am there to tuck them in. My week is pretty evenly divided between my two jobs. On the days I work, I don’t clean. On the days I don’t work, I clean A LOT. I do laundry every other day, never more than a load behind. Every Saturday (at least), I clean the entire downstairs and all the floors in the entire house. Most mornings, I clear off the kitchen counter, wipe it down, and unload/reload the dishwasher. I scoop the litter box and add it to a grocery sack with Juliet’s morning diaper to throw outside.
It’s taken two kids and four pets to force me into these routines. I have no choice. I am cleaning or picking up something every day and STILL. STILL, there is either clutter or goop or cat litter everywhere. Am I doing my very best? Ha! Absolutely not. But I am doing the most I can while including time for myself. Or time for me and my husband. Or time to just enjoy my kids instead of ignoring them cleaning my house. I have two young kids, y’all. I make time for naps. I feel guilty when I nap, and then I’m angry at the world for making me feel guilty for napping when I got up and got two kids off to school and cleaned the kitchen and went to work and got the kids home from school and made them dinner and gave them baths and read them books and did crafts and answered 5,000 adorable questions and did laundry and sent emails and I AM TIRED AND I NEED TO NAP DAMMIT! And then, of course, I realize I have no one to be angry with and that no one actually cares if my house is clean or if I nap.
I had one of those weird moments tonight where I look around my messy house THAT I LITERALLY CLEANED YESTERDAY and got super overwhelmingly annoyed. Books, toys, plates, cups. The floors are already dirty. My work stuff on the dining room table. A bag on the counter I meant to give Amyre today but (shocker) forgot. Dishes that haven’t quite made the trip to the dishwasher yet. Juliet had taken all the books off the bookshelf. Jack had left his craft stuff scattered about.
He found a puppy head eraser at school on the floor today and brought it home to make it a body out of pipe-cleaners. The purple glue was dripping onto his table. Juliet had been opening the books and looking at the pictures and pointing and proclaiming gibberishly new names and gurgling. The blanket that Jack used to make a hammock with my legs while we watched The Ninja Turtles had fallen to a puddle on the floor. Crumbs. OH THE CRUMBS.
In the middle of my annoyance, I heard all the parents at once. Every parent whose children have grown up who love to tell me how fast it all flies. Parents who are my parents age and my grandparents age whose current homes are ridiculously immaculate. “They’re only little once.” “If I had a time machine, I’d go back and visit them at that age.” “They will be grown before you know it.”
When I worked at the nursing home, there was a lady who never wanted to get up and she never wanted her tv on. She just sat there. Awake. Looking out the window. I always tried to get her to do SOMETHING but she refused. One day, I asked her, “What are you thinking about in here all day?” She smiled and nostalgically said, “I just sit here and go over the best times of my life. When I was busy and had children everywhere and just thought I would never get to sit down and have anytime for myself. I think about my life then and I am so grateful.”
Sometimes, I hear you empty nesters in my head. You aren’t totally yelling at deaf ears or commenting on empty Facebook posts. Sometimes, I remember that my children are learning and growing and healthy and happy and safe. That their messes are necessary and important. I remember that Juliet is learning new words and Jack is flourishing creatively. And that Jack won’t want to build hammocks on my legs with me forever. And that leaving a mess to chill out with my husband or take a bath or write a blog is what will make me happy in that moment. Sometimes, I do. Sometimes, I don’t and I want you all to be quiet, but I heard you tonight. Yes, I am busy and I am messy, (AND I WANT TO TAKE A NAP!), but I am grateful.