I look around me and see stuff. Lots of stuff. Not a Hoarders amount of stuff, but a real lot of clutter that has no home except my home at large. I open my pantry and I’m stressed out. Once, there was order in there. Now there is not. I open my fridge and I cringe—how long ago did we make that penne pasta? Last week? Last month? The plastic-ware in the kitchen is crammed into cabinets, with lids and cups falling on you as you open the door. Dishes pile up in the sink because nobody cares to look in the dishwasher to see if it’s empty, because if it’s not then we’d have to take the time and energy to empty it before putting the dirty stuff in there. It’s just easier to pile them in the sink.
The living room is usually pretty clean—wait are those ants carrying off the latest toddler crumbs?—except for the toys. Lots of toys. Toys that stress me out because there are so many little parts. I want to get rid of some of them, but I think maybe another child of mine who is not soon to be present will want to play with them…someday. And for some reason, that’s enough to keep the blasted toys and the books that I hate to read.
Up the stairs, there’s a door to the right that remains closed. Always. The spoken reason for this is so that the cats don’t get in there and put their “predator scent” on the hunting stuff. The unspoken reason is because the “office” is a storage closet of randomness—office supplies, musical instruments, boxes of stuff from our closets from when we lived in...Waco? Surely not. It’s overwhelming at best.
The master bedroom is another matter entirely, and it’s really my fault. I’m a piler, people. When I don’t want to deal with things, I put things in piles. And then I put those piles in boxes, and then I stack the boxes out of sight, out of mind, in Elsie’s “big girl” bedroom. That worked until it was time to make the spare bedroom a place for a person to actually sleep, and then I moved the boxes into our bedroom, into the little sitting room nook, where they’ve sat, basically untouched, since I moved them months ago. The toddlers help to unpack them, piece by piece, leaving junk everywhere. We then ignore the mess like it doesn’t exist, until we step on it in the middle of the night and say made-up curse words as we hop on one foot into the bathroom. Stress and overwhelmedness have nothing on whatever constraining feeling has a hold of me when I think about the “sitting room” in the bedroom. If the mess that I try hard to ignore is even brought to my attention, my first instinct is to get defensive. Look people, I work full time, have two toddlers, and no spare time. I CAN’T DO IT ALL! But I know that only I can remedy the situation because it’s MY junk.
Just so you can get the full picture, I need to tell you about the rest of the house. The master bath is now clean on the surface. It feels like the cabinets and drawers are full of junk—haircare products, first aid supplies, never-used makeup, random samples of hygiene and cosmetic products--but if they all stay closed, I can forget that it’s a problem. Until the toddlers go drawer-diving and come up with stuff they shouldn’t have (please hand over my deodorant, and quit eating the Chapstick). The walk-in closet is usually maneuverable, just so long as you can step around the giant pile of dirty clothes in the middle.
The kids’ room is clean, except for more toys. But the dressers are empty. The closet is full of boxes of newborn clothes that Elsie outgrew over two years ago. And the rest of the clothes—those that currently fit, those that will fit, and those that will not fit again—are in the bedroom at the end of the hall. On the floor, on the bed. A room FULL of clothes. And I need to go through them and put the ones that currently fit in the dressers, get the ones they have outgrown ready to sell/give away, and box up the clothes that will fit next season. But it takes time and motivation, two things which have been lacking recently.
And then there’s the garage. It’s actually not that bad. But there are boxes of memories in there, and I’m not sure what to do with them right now. And there are recyclables that need to be taken to the recycling center. And currently there are various and sundry things left over from our garage sale blocking one side.
So why have I given you the run-down of my cluttered life? 1) Because I want you to feel better about yourself, if possible, and if not, just feel okay that you and I have something in common. 2) Because in my effort to be a transparent wife, mother, friend, I want you to see that appearances aren’t entirely reliable (the oatmeal smeared on the shoulder of my shirt is 100% authentic, though). 3) Because once people know about how I live from day to day, I hope that I will be motivated to fix the problem—not from shame, but from accountability.
Look, I’m not insane. I know it’s not going to fix itself overnight. I was doing well with the FlyLady while I was on my own last spring, but once Eli came back, I got lazy again, and lazy breeds lazy. I make excuses:
“I don’t have time.” Right. But somehow I have time to blog? To cruise Facebook? To read others’ blogs? To watch full episodes of USA Network shows on Hulu? To watch House Hunters International? But somehow I don’t have time to take care of my environment. Wrong. I’m just not using my time well.
“I can’t do anything with the kids around.” I admit I use this excuse a lot. The kids “help” me, and most times it is counterproductive. It is definitely easier to get stuff done when I’m by myself, but let’s face it. I’m a mom. I can’t even use the restroom by myself. So, if I’m waiting for all this elusive “alone time” I’m dreaming. Besides, if I do get precious alone time, I’m not really keen on cleaning. But the little ones have to sleep sometime, right? All kidding aside, I am going to try to do more with their “help.”
“I’m tired—I just want to veg out.” Every. Night. From wake-up to bedtime, I’m wife, mother, teacher, and with each of these comes its own responsibilities. From bedtime to wake-up, I’m exhausted.
“I’m so busy.” This goes back to the time thing. Yes, we are busy. Yes, we have to set out our weekly schedule at the beginning of the week to make sure we aren’t two ships passing in the night. But it’s a choice, I know. I think I’ve come to accept that we are just at a busy time in our lives, and if I use that as an excuse, then I’ll never do anything. I have two children, a husband, a full-time job, some friends who I rarely get to see, and a church family we are devoted to. We’re going to be busy. I have to get over it.
Well, guess what? I’m tired of making excuses. I’m tired of being overwhelmed. Just like our debt situation, I’m not going to face the whole hog at once—it’s too much to swallow. I’m going to break it up and take care of business. And I hope that by this time next year I will be able to say that I’ve “trimmed the fat” around the house. I don’t know what this will look like, exactly.
I turn 33 this coming year, and I acknowledge the blessings I have received from my faithful Father. I’m going to try to be a better steward of them, Lord willing.