clearing the clutter.

i keep coming across these lovely, very heartfelt blog posts by mothers about the general sense of overwhelment (not a word, but hey) and daily failure that comes with motherhood. they are all filled with tales of running themselves ragged, of struggling to keep up, of nothing (really nothing) turning out how they want or even think it will, and of the exhaustion that sinks in each day. these wonderful posts always seem to end with the one thing that restores sanity: simplicity. organizing. getting rid of things. more room, less stuff. shedding things.

i relate, whole-heartedly. but i wonder why we mothers have such a strong need to do this. it is akin to nesting in the third trimester, we must! we must re-organize our closet, get rid of half of our clothes, clean out the kitchen cabinets, donate the bulk of those trashy novels and unhelpful parenting books that we bought while pregnant and for gods sake, get rid of all of those terribly uncomfortable caged heels that are sew 2008.

as babies grow into toddlers they unearth any and every thing that is laying around the house. the necessity to “baby-proof” contributes to the need to de-clutter, but it’s more than this. it’s not just putting things “away” or into storage or behind safety locked cabinet doors. we want the cabinets and storage bins emptied.

i was thinking this morning as i surveyed the sorry state of my kitchen floor after my son had torn through it, that there is a wonderful metaphor in all of this. we live in an old house, one with many flaws. a house where most, if not all, of the various renovations have been done by us. we have laid flooring, painted walls, hung doors, and decorated every inch. leave my son to crawl along the floor and he will find the spot where the flooring was a bit short and begin methodically to pull it up. he will find the corner where the door was not quite framed and begin picking at the chipped paint. he will find the bits of dropped dinner or dust bunnies that i was too tired to clean up. he will find every flaw, every part that we want to hide away behind furniture or rugs. he will pull out my just finished up-do. he will pinch the embarrassing flab that hangs under my arms. he will get a hold of all of it, and force me to look at it.

i have heard it said that children are our mirrors. even as babies they show us what we often don’t want to look at. often times they show us that we are not perfect. behind the stylishly edited and filtered photos we are all imperfect: as mothers, as partners, as people. simplifying, clearing the clutter, those are wonderful things. but i think in many ways we are just looking for something to control in our chaotic lives. being a parent is messy. and your life is suddenly, pretty much completely out of your hands. you fly by the seat of your pants. i am all for whatever restores sanity in the minds of moms. but i hope too that you can love your messy lives a little more. and that i can, as well.

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