“Well,” I replied. “I was going to do some straightening up but it’s such a nice day out that I think I’m going to take the kids to the playground instead.”
“Honey,” my mom responded, “I think it’s just wonderful how you don’t care what your house looks like!”
One might assume that I would be offended by that comment, but I actually took it as my mom meant it, as a compliment. Her point was that the house will always be there, but there are only so many beautiful summer mornings that I will have to spend with my two young children at the park.
Three years ago, my priorities might have been a little different. I think that especially with the first child it is natural to want to keep a perfect house. How dare anyone wear their filthy shoes inside the house where my beloved child crawls on the floor! Keep that dirty binky that just fell to the ground away from my child’s precious mouth! And the bottle of Purell kept handy for visitors meeting the baby for the first time was big enough to be seen from space.
After my first son was born, the living room was still a fairly presentable place to host guests. Skip to a few months later, and suddenly my living room had become a playroom and toys were everywhere. His little toy box was suddenly spilling over with trucks, cars, stuffed animals, puzzles, etc. and my son had a fun little habit of taking his entire toy box and tipping it upside down. Every ten minutes. He hasn’t really outgrown this habit and recently developed a new morning routine: about two minutes after I start my shower I hear him climbing out of bed, and around the time I am rinsing the shampoo out of my hair I hear a huge crash in the hallway. No worries, he’s just dumped his entire box of trucks upside down, right outside of the sleeping baby’s room. By the time I’ve rinsed the conditioner out of my hair, there is usually at least one entire game of Memory and a puzzle dumped on top of the truck pile. And a crying baby on top of that.
Toys are not the only things that pile up in my house. Ever since I had my second son, I have worried whether my house has started to resemble an episode of Hoarders. There are piles everywhere: unread New York Times, old magazines, unopened mail, and preschool artwork that I cannot bring myself to get rid of. Then there are the piles of laundry that need to be tended to, not to mention the piles of dishes in the sink.
As my newborn grows older I find myself having a few minutes more to myself every day to chip away at these piles, and slowly my house is returning to its normal state. Soon, my children will not be begging me to eat the pretend meal they carefully prepared for me in their mini kitchen, or requesting that I read them the same book for the 11th time. And I know that it won’t be long before I am taking a shower and no longer hear the sounds of all of those trucks crashing onto the floor. And I will miss it.
So I plan on going to the playground instead of tending to the piles of housework for as long as I can.