My house is clean.
In the last week I’ve had a few people make comments…
“How many hours do you clean every day?”
“Where is all your clutter?”
“Man, your house is so clean!”
In full disclosure, my house really isn’t THAT clean. I keep the front of the house clutter free and looking good, but the bedrooms are a crapshoot, and the bathrooms? Well. I have four boys. Don’t breathe in too deeply.
I was remembering back today when the boys were little.
My house was always a mess. Mess doesn’t even give it the credit it deserves. It was a disaster, all the time.
ALL. THE. TIME.
Dishes in the sink from one or two days before. Piles of laundry overtaking the couches waiting to be put away. Floors begging to be scrubbed, bathrooms you needed HAZMAT suits to enter. (To be fair, I had four little boys, three growing boys with T1 who peed a lot at night and didn’t always do it whilst wide-awake.)
My life was chaos. Beautiful chaos. Feeding the baby was more important than laundry. Taking a walk was more important than dishes. Date night trumped a clean house any day of the week.
Even as close as few years ago, cleaning was never a priority…because there were a thousand more important things in the cue.
My husband being number one.
Sitting on the couch cuddling with Ryan was my number one priority. On Saturdays we spent our time out with the boys rather than home doing chores.
Oh how I miss that mess.
Oh how I wish my house were a mess again.
Now it seems, I have so much time. Sometimes I clean up after the boys just to kill the monotony of my day.
I wish I wasn’t bored. I wish I had Ryan to distract me.
Now the boys aren’t little anymore. They spend most their time on the computer. Legos and hotwheels have all been transferred to the garage. Laundry is their only big culprit, and my sister in law does most of that now.
She spends the night and does dishes and laundry three nights a week.
I love her company. I need it. But I yearn for the days of watching scary shows with Ryan. I can still see him clearly, turning off the TV. Checking the doors. Turning off lights, closing blinds and turning off my computer and taking my hand so he could tuck me into bed.
I miss having a husband to obsess over. I miss leaving the vacuuming behind to have lunch with him. I miss movies and dinners and walks, and waiting for his texts every morning.
This quiet is maddening. This clean is not my choice.
I miss my beautiful mess.
I envy your messy houses.
It means you are LIVING.
Right now I feel less like I’m living and more like I’m surviving.
And part of surviving is controlling the things I can. Clutter is one of them.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m no neat freak. I’m woefully behind on my own laundry, and I have a box I just throw in every paper that may or may not be important.
The other night my son had a friend over. They had Nerf gun wars for hours. I spent my time cleaning up behind them, when minutes later a new spray of Nerf ammo lay in its place. Part of me loved the mess. The other part of me couldn’t spend one more minute on the computer or I would pop. What’s left to do?
I don’t want you to feel sorry for me. I am blessed. My boys are fun and sweet, but they are busy with their own priorities. Haven't you ever noticed with one child missing the entire family dynamic is changed? I'm down from 6 to 4 in the house in less than 18 months. Everything has changed.
I know I won’t be working part time forever. In fact I’m sure that will be ending before I know it, and I'll be so busy going to school I probably won't be able to keep up on it all like I do. But I believe even busyness won’t change things much.
My sister in law will still help keep things in order. And I’ll still be looking for distractions from the quiet. And when my house is messy? It will just be clutter. It won’t be meaningful or joyful. Or maybe it will be...I don't know what tomorrow holds.
Hopefully vacuuming won’t always be on the top of my list of things to do.
Hopefully there lay beautiful distractions in my future.
Will I find that in a new career? Will I find that in someone new? I don’t know.
But I hope that I live again. Even if living means being blissfully happy with what I have now: Me and four amazing boys. Which I know sounds slightly ungrateful…but I promise it is not. You see, I’m completely blessed. I can’t complain when I pray at night, as I know how good I have it.
I really have it good.
It’s just quiet. Still lonely. Maybe still a bit melancholy? Just different than it was.
Cleaner than it was. Calmer than it was. Almost like our life has docked and is waiting at the pier for us to begin our next big adventure. We're swaying back and forth, not really going anywhere.
Embrace your mess.
You’ll miss it one day. I promise.