Confession: I am not nearly as neat and organized as people think. And maintaining some semblance of order at home is a constant struggle. That is a little bit of a problem because I like neat and secretly wish to have Real Simple worthy drawers and closets. I enjoy common living spaces free of piles (yes, I can be a pile person) and teenage sprawl. And you should also know that in the past, I’ve been a bit of a nut about this. Especially when parts of life felt so difficult. The harder life got, the more I wanted order in my home. And so one of my goals this last year, in the midst of huge life changes, has been to work on letting go, living with mess, and perhaps even celebrating it.
Further confession: I tend to nag. And nagging never goes well with teenagers.
All of which brings me to Friday night. That morning I left early for faculty meetings, but the girls enjoyed a leisurely start before having to be at school for the traditional opening of the school year ceremony. As I was rushing off, they were cooking breakfast, choosing outfits and chatting about weekend plans. My last words were, “Remember to clean up, leave the dog inside and lock the doors.” That’s another thing I should work on. Requests in triplicate are also doomed when you’re making them to teenagers. Choose one. The most important one. In our case, that would be leave the dog inside. Our old lab has taken to wandering when left alone in the yard and has had two rather harrowing (or so we think) adventures on a nearby country road where cars regularly travel at 50 miles per hour.
As you can probably guess, when I got home Friday night, the kitchen was far from clean. There were unwashed plates, pans and a spatula in the sink.The big table where we eat and do homework and the girls do crafts, was piled high with textbooks, crumpled up pieces of notebook paper, pens, toast crumbs, dirty mugs and a fine sprinkling of gold glitter. Don’t ask. I didn’t. The family room wasn’t much better. Whoever had eaten toast had apparently decided to leave crumbs on the sofa too. There were piles of shoes at the foot of the stairs, and we won’t even discuss the pet fur clumps drifting across the floor (which of course had nothing to do with the teenagers) once I opened the front door to let out the dog and bring in the breeze.
The day had been long. Faculty meetings, Convocation- a big deal when you have a child who is a Senior, Fall Family Picnic, and a Varsity tennis match for my younger daughter. I was tired when I got home at nearly 8:00 p.m. The mess was everywhere. It was unavoidable. But I had a choice. I chose to look around, breathe in, breathe out, pour a glass of wine, brush the crumbs off of one cushion on the sofa, sit down, take off my shoes and just be grateful. Grateful for two busy happy children. Grateful for the mess. Today I celebrate the mess, and the baby steps I’ve taken that allow me, at least some of the time, to just let go and embrace it.