Chaos is the Fuel of Our Family
Written by Carolyn Moore
There’s cheese in my chair. Shredded. The orange kind that’s mixed with white thankyouverymuch because plain cheddar is not nearly exciting enough for the under-three clientele that frequents this joint. If it doesn’t start with “Colby” and end with “Jack,” don’t even think about it.
There’s crayon on my table. Actually ON my table. A dozen—maybe more—frenetically lopsided red circular scribbles, by the decidedly un-deft hand of a pint-sized Picasso. She’s drawn on the window panes behind the table, too—a modern dove gray this time, at least.
There are smiley faced stickers on my tile. Apple peelings buffered by a half an inch of acceptable actual apple on my counter. Naked Barbies and their custom Scotch tape dresses (so 3pm) balled up on my carpet. Last night’s leftover mini corndogs and dried ketchup streaks on plates piled by the sink. Two loads of laundry, stacked but folded—actually folded!—in the living room. And, naturally, two dead bees carefully sandwiched between clear packing tape on the desk. Because science (duh).
There is chaos in my house.
I survey it on a nondescript Tuesday afternoon, the one day we’re not scheduled to be somewhere or practice something. I intend to roll up my sleeves and force some order into the disorder; to interrupt the giggly game of house in the basement and send the neighbor kids home; to refocus the energy back to a level more conducive to my continuing sanity.
I lift my eyes to the crayon-covered window. It’s a picture perfect early autumn afternoon there beyond the lines, the kind when children’s laughter wafts through slightly chilled air and trees bear a delicious mix of summer’s rich green and fall’s technicolor display.
My gaze falls again to the countertop and its motley mess of papers and plastic. Back to the window. Over to the sink. How did I let this happen…again? I mean to keep the countertops reasonably free from school papers and half-empty cereal boxes. To tidy the living room every evening before bed. To change all the sheets once a week. Such lofty, good intentions.
But I also have three young kids. Two and a half bathrooms. A husband. A dog. An innate inability to say “No” to virtually anyone or anything. I have life hurtling down this highway of motherhood at 100 miles an hour, capturing me in its whirlwind of soccer games, piano lessons, after-school playdates, and family vacations.
Decision made, I call for the kids to hand down their orders. They bound into the kitchen, cheeks flushed from play, eyes alight with the imagination of childhood. It’s such a familiar glow, so pure, raw, and innocent—and one I had myself not so very long ago. A smile tugs at the corners of my lips. “Let’s go outside.”
We leave the dishes, the toys, the toothpaste-splattered sinks. We play until dusk, filling our lungs with crisp autumn air and draining it of every ounce of its oversaturated joy. We embrace the chaos, because it is precisely what fuels us, in strangely beautiful and inexplicable ways.
When my brothers and I were growing up, my mom liked to say that a home should be, “Clean enough to be healthy, but cluttered enough to be happy.” Now that I’m a mother myself, I understand the meaning behind those words, beyond their face value: what matters at home is the life within its walls.
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About the Author: Traded a career in TV news for babies and blogging–and wouldn’t have it any other way. North Dakota mom of Meredith (7), Nolan (4), and Felicity(1) holding down the home front and writing late at night for http://www.bisonbooties.com/blog.