Thursday, October 27, 2011


God knows, I am no clean freak. I believe that a little bit of dirt never hurt anybody, and I don't mind a little clutter. Sometimes, when my bedding gets a little gritty from kids climbing all over the bed while still wearing their dirty shoes, I get out the broom and sweep the beds rather than actually changing the bedding. It's either that, or I convince myself that the grit is actually an expensive skin exfoliant, and I'm lolling at a luxury spa.

Despite the fact that I rarely use one, I do have an appreciation for a good vacuum cleaner. There's just something so pleasurable about watching all the dirt get sucked up. So when I am very rich, I plan to have a very fancy vacuum cleaner. Of course, since I will be rich, I won't actually use the vacuum cleaner myself, but I want to keep the help happy.

Although I don't mind a little mess in the house, it's still disconcerting to come home from the office, to come back to the bosom of my family after engaging in hectic public life, to return to my sanctuary and find this:

I would have thought the house was ransacked, except that we own very little that is worth ransacking for. If robbers came to our house, they would take a look at our lack of big screen television, iPad, Kindle, iPhone, DVR, surround-sound stereo system, and conclude either that our house had previously been robbed of everything of value, or that we were Amish. The kind of Amish that own a dishwasher.

David, who was in charge of the kids while this mess got generated, is much more tolerant of chaos and clutter than I am. He believes that before the kids go to bed, it's folly to make even a minimum of effort towards cleaning up the house, since they will just mess it up again. Of course, using his logic, it's also useless to pick up after the kids go to bed, since they'll just mess it up the next day. Basically, David believes we should just wait until Baby W turns 18 and then set the house on fire and start anew.

His approach does have a certain appeal.

This photo shows our house at its peak of messiness. Normally it's much cleaner than that. Our car, on the other hand, is unrelentingly filthy and cluttered. Once again, David has a narrative that allows him to justify the mess. He believes that it's a good thing to have the car filled to the windows with the detritus of family life, like board books, single socks, crusts of peanut butter sandwiches, and crumpled art projects, because in theory if you were away from home and found yourself in need of a particular object, you  might be able to find it among the 7,000 other objects in the car. In other words, if I'm ever away from home and have an emergency and need a dried-up banana peel and a crushed Culver's cup right away, I'll know where to look. (Under the passenger seat.)

The tornado that went through the house today exceeded even David's tolerance for disorder, and we both agreed that we needed to make a clean space for our family with a minimum of effort. So it sounds like David and I are on the same page: rather than cleaning up, it's probably easiest to just move.


  1. Ian will actually run around the house, dumping baskets of toys, screaming "here comes the tornado. We followed the Waldorf Schools recommendation to put toys in a basket, that way they'd have a "home". Ummm....the founder must not have had boys because all they are is a lovely tossing device to display gravity. The night I work late I always brace myself for what I'll find when I open the door. I enter in the kitchen, which looks like it was evacuated mid food-fight, proceed to the living room in which all baskets have been dumped and the couches disassembled, and find CJ and the kids in one of their rooms, trashing in progress. I rarely put the couches together anymore because they'll be attacked within 20 minutes of my son entering the room. Insanity is sometimes defined as doing something that doesn't work over and over again. Thus, I leave the sofa as is. Take comfort in the fact you are not alone :)

  2. Our house is extremely cluttered as well, and all of the stuff on the floor helps us to better hear the mice as they scutter around.