Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Dancing with Insanity

I have a strong belief that God gave us small, wild little beings to care for so that we would know how He feels.
I have four children ranging in ages 17 months to just turned 7 years. Each age and stage has brought something new for me to learn. Each new child has proven me wrong when I thought I had parenting figured out. Now I just pray that I won't be spending thousands in therapy (for my children) because I screwed them up in some way. My husband and I pray daily over our little charges, read, ask questions of other parents and then do our best.
One thing I know: small children and a clean house do not go hand in hand. At least, not with any sort of sanity involved. As someone once said to one of my friends, "I once had grand notions about what I could achieve [as a mom]. Turns out, they were grand dilusions." I used to be a clean freak. Seriously. My sister and I used to share a room together and I think my parents finally realized that one of us would die if they didn't separate us. She had no problem with clothes and what-have-you thrown all over the room and never picking up her side of the room. I sorted my clothes in my closet according to color. I got a little better in college. A little. I think I drove a few roommates insane.
Then I met my dear husband. The first time I saw his room when we were working together at a Children's Home in the Midwest, I wanted to run out of the house. There was no floor to his room. It was a rug of clean and dirty clothes. Peeping out were bright speckles of candy wrappers and empty soda pop bottles. They say opposites attract. We certainly proved that theory. Our first year of marriage was one huge lesson in adjustments, but that's for another blog.
It is fairly easy to keep a house clean when it is just you and your hubby--even a messy like mine. But, when you add children and then pets to the becomes a dance with insanity for an obsessive compulsive clean freak like myself.
I'm rather proud of myself. With the birth of each new child, I have learned to let go of a little bit more in the way of a neat house. I don't vacuum daily like I did when I had just Abigail. Yes, I vacuumed daily. I don't wash my dishes after every meal. I don't dust every few days. Dusting happens when I find I can write "help me" with my finger on the top of the piano. The list goes on.
This week pushed the sanity button to the max. We are expecting a house-full of company. I love having people over to our house, but the last few weeks since Nathaniel's accident have been more about getting back on our feet and enjoying every moment with my little ones than keeping up with the house.
I joined mid-January and it's been good for me, but the clean doesn't stay that way. Two days ago I decided I needed to fold the clean laundry that had been accumulating. It took 6 trips from the laundry room to the living room. Upon the last trip, I found two delighted little boys attempting to scale the laundry mountain. The pile was taller than my 3-year-old (who is just shy of his 5 year-old brother in height). I found it was more fun to see how high we could get the pile for them to jump or roll off of than to fold it. I gave up the notion of folding after watching the two of attempt to add the couch cushions to the top of the pile and joined in the fray. It eventually got folded AFTER they'd gone to bed that night. Yesterday I decided to bit off the flylady challenge of deep-cleaning the bathrooms. Only I chose to do 2 bathrooms in their entirety in one day. Dumb. I know. I gave Timothy (age 3 1/2) the vinegar and water spray bottle and told him to spray the counter tops and door nobs and I tackled the toilets and floor around. (Little boys don't aim well). Nathaniel toddled back and forth between the two of us with his token rag and kept dipping it into the toilet and then climbing the step stool to swish his rag in the sink. Gross. He's a fat pudgy diaper on two legs and was having difficulty maneuvering the step stool. He kept tipping off and smacking Timothy with his sloppy rag.
I finally got the toilets cleaned and turned to inspect Timothy's "work." Vinegar water pooled under the bathroom door and dripped off the counters as evidence that he'd been hard at work. "Look mommy! I helped you. Ishn't it so clean!" He turned to me excitedly and sprayed Nathaniel directly in the face with the vinegar water. Nathaniels' response was to grunt loudly and "run" to the toilet and throw his rag into the bowl in defiance. After rescuing the rag, I grabbed a large beach towel to use as a mop and backed my way out of the bathroom and shut the door. Nathaniel was soaked to his shoulders in toilet water and Timothy walked down the hall leaving wet little footprints in the carpet. I decided that was enough for one day.
This afternoon I was driving cars with Timothy and looked up to see that Nathaniel was not in the living room with us. I walked into the kitchen to find that he had discovered the dishwasher unlatched and had succeeded in pulling it open. He must have thought it was a good time to help empty the dishwasher (he has begun to help with that chore and still thinks it's great) and had succeeded in pulling out several dishes and bowls that were dripping with oatmeal. I had mopped the floor just 2 days previous for the first time since Christmas. Oatmeal was dripping off the cupboard door and onto the floor and dirty little footprints had tracked it from the dishwasher to his little pile about 2 feet away.
I have had people ask me if I get uptight in other people's houses that are messy. I honestly don't. I like being in a place I'm not responsible for cleaning. I can sit back and just relax and have fun in someone elses house. It's their mess, not mine.
I love my children. I love that they have upset my neatness. I love (well not really) to find their little jelly fingerprints on the front of my kitchen cupboards and floor. If I never cleaned, I could even use their little hand prints as a random growth chart! I am glad God blessed me with a messy for a husband. I am glad for a daughter who takes after him and for 3 little boys who are simply being boys. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be as contented as I am today without them in my life.

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