By Robyn Green
I’ll take a messy house any day. Did you hear that Mom? She wouldn’t be surprised. After all, she bore witness to my messy teenage room, the one that had the closed door and was shunned in her immaculate house. Did you come of age in that generation? A time when you really could eat off the floors. Nothing was ever out of place. No one had nannies or cleaning ladies. When I became a mom, I always wondered how was my mother there for us after school, for homework, for driving us to activities, doing laundry, cooking dinner, and doing it all as one person!
I didn’t inherit her tidy gene. When I was married and my kids were little, cleaning up was a losing battle. Like the movie Groundhog Day, it was the same process every night, and the same result of a mess within a few hours the next day. I eventually gave in to the reality of being on the losing side and found better things to do with my time, like go to the park with the kids, or reading a book after they were in bed. That was when I lived in a large house. So although it wasn’t neat as a pin, it was manageable.
Fast forward to the present, now a single mom in a smaller space. Everything is suddenly everywhere when they come home from school. The school and lunch bags are plopped at the door, home work or art projects cover the table, and that’s before the Pokemon cards. Despite my best efforts, these cards magically infiltrate every nook and cranny – like Gremlins, they seem to multiply. And then there’s the Lego, which if one does the math for two boys under the age of ten, amounts to A LOT. Despite the attempt to put the bricks in bins, favourite pieces escape, or little pieces are wedged into corners for stepping on in the dark after tucking the boys in at night.
But that’s the funny thing about being a single parent- there is noise, and mess and tumult and Lego pieces between your toes, crumbs under the table, and laundry that never makes it to the hamper….and then it all stops. They go to their father’s house for a few days and there is silence. And despite having a life of friends and interests which fills the time when they aren’t at home, there is an apocalyptic feel to the deserted cards, Lego and toys.
There’s a page in The Cat In The Hat, where the boy details how the Cat cleans up “Then we saw him pick up all the things that were down, he picked up the cake and rake and the gown…” and that’s what I do. I start the tidy up. Since it’s not a big house it isn’t a lengthy process. Especially when I don’t need to pause and mediate over who hit whom first.
The floors shimmer, the counters are smooth and crumbless, the laundry is folded, and yet, despite music playing or the TV on in the background, the silence remains.
My kids came back on Monday after the weekend with their dad my six year old, ever observant, commented, “Mommy, it’s so clean in here! And it smells so good!” I hugged him closely, so glad he and his brother were home with me. “Yes, it is. But you know what? I’d rather have a little mess and have you here with me. That’s just fine!”
So, sorry Mom, I’m keeping the messy home.