This morning while I was preparing to leave for work, I had one of those moments of clarity, where Truth just stands up and demands your attention. I have always been a bit of a neat freak when it comes to certain parts of my life. While my office (which was my bedroom when I was single) may be highly cluttered, it is organized in its own methodical (hint: maniacal) way. However, when it comes to the rest of my life, I like it to be free of clutter and mess; something about clutter just depresses me and puts me on edge.
*photo courtesy of www.ladcblog.org
However, this morning for some reason the clutter in my life seemed to reach new levels—or at lease my awareness of it did—such that it’s my guess that it pushed me over the edge to a whole new awareness. Yes, it was that bad. Costume bumble bee ears, trucks that climb walls, footballs, magic faerie wands, marbles, dominos, colored beads, dance shoes, matchbox cars & trucks, fluffy tutus, little people play-scapes, dolls, stuffed animals, colored balls, cards, Lego pieces, scattered puzzle pieces, plastic food from the pretend kitchen, endless toys from sonic, foam building blocks, mountains of story books, a herd of assorted shoes, random pieces of clothes, and the occasional dirty dish…only to catalogue the fist five square feet as you walk in the door—or out the door as was the case this morning.
Right as my blood pressure began to build and my temples began to throb and my depressive pity-party tape began playing the greatest hits of “Why is my house always cluttered with toys and other people’s stuff?!?”, a deep roll of thunder lumbered by outside with the approaching storm. At that moment, I was struck with clarity that made my shoulders lower, my muscles relax, my blood pressure returns to normal, and the pity-party program go silent. I’m not kidding, this is no embellishment.
I was hit in the face with the reality that these days where my children leave parts of themselves—the toys they most play with—all over the house and our very lives will come to an end sooner than I would like to admit. One day they will be loading up their respective cars and moving out to start their own lives and taking their clutter with them. And I was also reminded that I am blessed to have a partner in my life who for fourteen years has shared bits and pieces of herself with me, too. Things could very easily, on any given day, take a turn and I would no longer have her clutter in my life.
It is hard to now imagine my existence without all of what I’ve described filling my life. If our lives are to be inevitably inundated with clutter, what better things could there be than what our children have brought with them? At what point in the remainder of my life will it be socially acceptable to have my house strewn with children’s toys which are clearly being played with and loved? What might one day take the place of these toys and little-people clothes? Perhaps bills, magazines, his and her shoes, occasional electronic devices and charging cords, breakfast’s dishes, a purse…but no fire trucks, baseball bats, Barbies, princess coloring books…I think you see my point by now.
The dichotomy for us is that our life is such a temporal, transient experience, but yet we daily get bogged down in the minute to minute minutia that allows us to so quickly lose the bigger picture and the true nature of the gift we receive each and every day. I forget that what annoys me today, I will miss tomorrow. I forget that the fact that my children can find fifty things to do besides brushing their teeth—just because they think it’s fun—is but a fleeting scene, as soon they become teenagers with the weight of the world and their future sitting heavy on their shoulders. I forget the inappropriate games they like to play with their food while at the restaurant which provide entrainment and laughter will soon be gone with the accepted behavior of us boring adults.
So tonight as I arrived home, I opened the door and was greeted by a cacophony of noise; my daughter greeting me with a bear hug and a smile. I looked over to the table covered with afternoon snack plates, coloring books, today’s art projects, reading books, and an iPad. I kick a ball out of the way and sidestep a scooter and have to duck beneath some yarn web my children constructed from our banister, all en route to hang up my jacket. The den floor is filled with an elaborate wooden train track set and the couch is populated with a stampede of My Little Pony’s who undoubtedly earlier in the day had freed the pink monkey and Peter Rabbit from the tyranny of the Lego pirates who were now sailing the seas of the rug. On my way upstairs, the steps and the landing midway up were filled with blankets, pillows, and stuffed animals, of which I was later informed, was their “nest” for the afternoon. On any other day, I would have been irritated that they had not cleaned up after themselves, but today I felt blessed.