I hate clutter. I despise little things hanging out in their random spots. Many times I’ve tripped over toys on my way to the stove from the sink. I’ve been known to aggressively kick and chuck toys into the play area. I’ve threatened to donate any shoes not properly put away to the Goodwill. When I was little, a fun play date included organizing my friend’s bedroom. Clutter physically pains my perfectionist pursuit.
Two small children breed clutter. Abby and Henry are each a complex cornucopia of clutter, from sunrise to nightfall. Backpacks, naked dolls, homework, shoes, school reminders, wet clothes, sippy cups, happy meal toys, snack bowls, rocks, underwear, treasures, hair bows, trucks and trains. And little tiny snippets of paper freshly cut by round-tipped safety scissors.
Hubby contributes admirably to my clutter conundrum. A clean, freshly sanitized counter is his blank palette. The Wall Street Journals set at a diagonal here, a lap top and phone charger there. Grocery store bags on the counter. Look! It’s an abstract, 3D, impressionistic display. Wait, there’s an empty slate over here—a.k.a. the kitchen table—with backpacks, mail and furnace filters, oh my!
I’d like to say I don’t contribute to the clutter. Come on, I’m the one eternally shelving everyone else’s crap. However, my explicit desire and burning need to be, well, perfectly prepared for “the unexpected” leads me to carry suitcase-sized purses. Filled with, you guessed it, clutter (and crap). 4 lip glosses, 2 chapsticks, pen, paper, band-aids, 5 lipsticks, wallet (with every receipt from the past three months), hand sanitizer, phone, Blackberry, 2 lip liners, Tylenol, notebook and Neosporin. Bobby pins, a paper calendar and lotion. And rubber bands. And an extra change of clothes for Henry. Gum.
Not only is my purse pot-calling-the-kettle-blacking me out of the clutter closet, I’m going to need extensive chiropractic hours to recoup my back from hauling this cluttery load.
Therefore, I choose to surrender. I see the children’s clutter as a blueprint of their creative synapses. My purple yoga mat, which is never properly put away, transforms many dreary afternoons into a mystical land of magic carpet rides. It has also transformed both Abby and Henry into big, purple burritos. Instead of physically shuddering when, upon arrival, my husband drops his worldly belongings on the counter, I will embrace the reasons behind his actions. For his stuff dropping (and clutter creation) frees his arms to singly hug and tickle our children as they joyfully dance at his feet.
Ultimately, I choose the people and embrace their essential random bits and pieces. If I successfully counter the clutter chaos, I’m provided with sacred glimpses into who my family is and how their brains work. I don’t always love it, but I inhale, allowing the clutter-filled cornucopia that is my life to joyfully unfurl.