January 9, 2013

Just Like Starting Over

This is how we entertain ourselves when we figure out we're all wearing purple.
These last few months have been like living in somebody else's life.  I'm serious- every scrap of our routine went out the window.  Every shred of normalcy deteriorated as we traveled, packed, had house guests, shared flus, shared colds, stopped sleeping, started sleeping again, and began experimenting with new grocery routines.

It's amazing how off it can throw you to go two weeks without cloth diapers.

This last week I have been desperately struggling to establish "normal" again.  Reintroducing the nap, enforcing regular bed and bath times, even finally taking down the Christmas tree.  This means stepping back while my kids watch "Yellow Submarine" and "Annie" ad nauseum.  (By the way, the girls LOVE John Lennon.  They refer to the Beatles as "John and his friends," and SI's favorite song is "Power to the People."  My kids are awesome.)  While the girls watch the movies, RH rolls around the floor, and I abandon my children to the electronic babysitter and attempt to reclaim my house.

RH: Six months old
It's not just cleaning, in fact it's very little cleaning.  It is the epic putting away of things.  The things are everywhere.  You start by dislodging a whole category of goods by turning your "spare room" into a "nursery."  Then you turn your "linen closet" into a "coat closet," and turn your "hardware cupboard" into your "linen cupboard" (although it doesn't come CLOSE to containing all your linens).  Then the baby goes up another size and the new things take up more space so your "first aid cupboard" once again becomes the "baby food cupboard," and baskets of bibs are switched with other baskets of bibs, and plans must be made for changing car seats- which is too daunting to even consider.  Then the holidays come, and before you can put all the things away, you're baking up a storm.  In the interest of time, food items line up in cans and boxes along the path to the pantry, to keep open the access to the molasses and vanilla.  And then comes the travel.  And then comes the desperate adjusting of toys, where the heap of outgrown clothes must become a heap of stuffed animals, and the "stuffed animal box" becomes the "dress ups box," and the "holiday toys bin" becomes the "RH toys bin," and you realize that you actually have enough things that you really like but don't actually need to necessitate both a Christmas and a Channukah storage bin to go back to the basement.  And then comes the weeks of passing around illness.  And then, because you're just finished a gift-giving season and now you've spent a ton of money and exchanged lovely things with everyone, all sorts of things that you kind of maybe need start breaking.  Things like your coat rack.  Or things fill up.  Things like your startup disc.  And suddenly you find yourself in need of buying all sorts of crap that must be built and housed in order to hold all your other things that maybe you sort of need.  And then you visit the brand new Costco and buy a million pounds of potatoes.  And suddenly you don't know where anything goes because it doesn't go anywhere, and you are quite literally losing your mind because you are wading through what feels like endless fields of random crap that you maybe kind of sort of need.

My house full of chaos.
Which is why I find myself over a month after the crazy holiday bonanza began installing shelves and hooks, filling bag after bag with things that we really DON'T need, letting them pile up in the hall to become yet another obstacle to believing that my house will ever really be under control, while watching the pile of blankets that don't fit in the linen cupboard collect dust bunnies in the corner.

I have a simple goal: To be able to decide to mop the floor in any given room without spending an hour finding where things have to go first.  Not putting them away, just figuring out where the hell I can put them.

Every vertical surface in my home was, until a few days ago, covered in crap.  Unknown, possibly important, indecipherable crap.  Two days of hard work and the addition of some shelving has yielded a kitchen that I can actually clean now.  Where everything has a place to go.  The dining room is next.

If I look at my home dispassionately, really, I'm just this side of a hoarder.

Know what I found in the dining room?  A fondue pot.  I didn't even remember that I had a fondue pot.  It's still in the box.  I could be using that space to stash the linens hanging out on top of the photo albums.

So how are my kids coping with all of this?  Simple.  Without me.

Grandmommy in my personal chaos zone
Without me, my remarkable three year olds have learned pretty much all the words to "Tomorrow," and the chorus of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds."  (Granted, those are all of the lyrics of the chorus of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.")  RH has figured out that by rolling, she can cross an entire room.  I am missing most of this, because I am trying to dig what I think must be my turntable out from the detritus on my desk.  I figure if I can eliminate the clutter on top of the second "linen cupboard" I might be able to squeeze the linens onto a "linen shelf."

I am eagerly awaiting the day that I reach the living room.  On that day, I will unroll my probably spider infested yoga mat, and I will do a sun salutation.

Because I have had it with my current lifestyle.  The lifestyle of a person wallowing in the collected detritus of self pity.

I wander around my home, looking forlornly at puddles of dried playdough with wooden and velcro eggs embedded in them, sighing and thinking to myself, "I'm going to get to that..."

Screw it.  I'm getting to that.  And then I am getting to me.  I'm tired of carrying around this spare tire from making three babies.  I'm tired of just telling my friends to cram the crap on the table just anywhere when they graciously come over for dinner.  I am getting my life into the kind of order where it might be functional.  Where I could dance with my kids if I wanted to.  Where the pre-dance party cleaning isn't just a stashing things out of reach because they have nowhere to go.

Now picture them singing "Tomorrow."
And yeah, it's going to mean getting rid of a lot of crap.

But with a little elbow grease and determination, I think that soon I'll have a functional coat rack, linens that don't live on the floor, and a routine that allows me to actually mop once in a while.

It's amazing how out of control things can get in just six months.

Six and a half months ago, I had a baby.  My third baby.

And, because I'm not an idiot, I prioritized me and the baby and the girls and M over just about everything else.

But now it's time to start acting like I run this show.  Because, as it turns out, I do.  And I'm good at it.

And with that mantra in mind, I think I can lock up about two thirds of the marzipan hiding in my sock drawer, put away the plastic dishes, and make my home my home again.

Wish me luck, lovely readers.

Sometimes I think I'll need it.


  1. You do sound like an emerging domestic goddess! I know what you mean about routine going by the wayside in favor of celebrating, hosting, and partying. It was a great break, but there are promises to keep--those that we made in 2012 that involved our actual commitments! Good luck with your organizing and with feeling better. I'm getting rid of a cold myself...

  2. This is totally where I am right now too. I just had a baby 6 weeks ago (and already had a 2 yr old) so I have been cutting myself some slack. However, the chaos I'm living in has been driving me batty and making me snap at my husband far too often. I need to follow your lead.



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