I used to be such a good housekeeper. Before six kids and full-time job . . . before six kids and going back to school . . . before six kids and realizing life would go on if the oven wasn’t scrubbed every week, my house was always spotless.
Even spontaneous, unannounced visitors would comment on how clean my house was and did I ever even use my oven and how did I manage to keep everything so organized?
Well, my friends, that was once upon a time in a galaxy far, far away.
As hard as it is to admit, I have fallen from grace. Life has gotten busier, crazier, and messier over the years.
Did I mention I have six kids?
However, if I were to be brutally honest, it’s not all my kids’ fault. Or my husband’s. Or even my pets’. My less-than-stellar habits are the result of an ever-decreasing amount of free time mixed with an ever-increasing lack of interest.
Hence, my current state of disarray.
At least in those areas I can get by with ignoring.
My house is an older home with lots of character and charm that never quite reached the basement. It was built before my grandparents were born, and I guess people back then only wanted to store firewood and canned goods down there, so it didn’t have to be all that pretty. These days, however, it looks less like a root cellar and more like a place you might see on one of those real-life crime dramas. I never go down there without a flashlight.
And my closets? Let’s just say I’m hiding more than skeletons in there.
There is that pile of shoe boxes that would come in really handy for wrapping those oddly shaped Christmas gifts, if I could just remember they were in there when December rolls around. Unfortunately, the only time I think about them is when I drop a hanger way back in the nether-regions, and as I get down on my hands and knees to dig it out (inevitably toppling the stack of shoe boxes in the process), I think to myself, “Boy, those boxes will really come in handy for wrapping those oddly shaped Christmas gifts when December rolls around!”
And then December comes, and another layer of dust settles over the hush in the back of my closet.
My wedding dress is stored in there, too; which is where I’m sure it will stay and live out the rest of its days. When I was younger, I dreamt one of my daughters might actually wear my wedding dress, but that would have only worked if it had been out of style back when I got married, because then it may actually be in some kind of style now, and my daughters may have actually entertained the possibility of wearing it. (I understand their thinking, because I didn’t want to wear my mother’s wedding dress either. This is not because my mother did not have a beautiful wedding dress, because she did. It is because I got married in the 80s – the age of punk rock, big hair, and even bigger wedding dresses, and I had little interest in walking down the aisle dressed as Jackie Kennedy.)
And I won’t even start on my garage. I stay out of there as much as possible. It is outside my area of responsibility, and with good reason. Too many strange tools and greasy cables and intimidating machinery. The garage took on a life of its own about five years ago, and I’ve been reluctant to enter it ever since.
I should take a moment here to reassure you that if you were ever to be invited over, you need not fear. Many people have come to our house and lived to tell the tale. It is not as far gone as I make it out to be. But for a recovering perfectionist, dust on the coffee table and backpacks dropped carelessly in the corner are difficult crosses to bear.
But therein lies the beauty of it all. Messy or not, this house is the place where we can keep all those things that make us feel like we are home. This house has heard us laugh, and it has heard us cry. It has seen our girls in prom dresses, caps and gowns, and even a (brand new) wedding dress. It has watched our boys climb the tree out front and play on the swing set out back. It has witnessed children moving out . . . and children moving back in.
We care for this house as best we can. Some things get fixed, while others get broken. Leaves are raked, gardens are planted, walls are painted, and stains are scrubbed. But no matter how much (or how little) we clean or replace, life goes on.
This house may not always sparkle and shine, but I am learning that doesn’t matter nearly as much as I thought it did. We are way too busy making memories to worry about a little dust or out-of-date wallpaper. We are busy making memories that will echo in these rooms long after we have moved on.
Life is being lived here in this house, and it is wonderful and beautiful and gloriously . . . messy.