I didn’t choose the Slob Life… ~ by Sam

…the Slob Life chose me.

Really.  It started when I was young.  My dad finally gave up on trying to get me to put my clothes in drawers, and built me a giant cedar chest to throw them all in, instead.  I smelled like a hamster for years.

I can’t help being a little preoccupied with trying to understand how I got to be so sloppy in the first place, at the moment.  You see, I am cleaning. For the record, I clean every single day.  For real.  It just doesn’t seem to stick.  I feel like Pigpen, from the Peanuts.

Right now, for instance, I have just finished mopping all of my tile floors.  Twice.  I still don;t feel they are clean enough.  I don;t feel they will EVER be clean enough.  Other people lived here before me, and I have absolutely no idea how great their personal hygiene, health and housekeeping habits were.  There could be so much filth and so many germs here!  So I have to keep scrubbing.  But, I have to keep scrubbing with things like vinegar, tea tree oil, baking soda and my steam mop (best investment I have ever made, BTW), because we don;t want a bunch of nasty chemicals in our home.  And I just don’t feel like it ever looks clean.  I really do wonder if it sat un-mopped for decades, and some of the dirt has turned to rock and permanently bonded with the floor.

I try to do the right things.  I make my own laundry detergent, soften our clothes with white vinegar and essential oils, use a microfiber cloth to dust, bake homemade bread, cook whole foods, grow as much of our own food as possible, vacuum with my special pet attachments to get up as much fur and dander as possible, freshen rugs with baking soda…and my kids just keep getting sick.  I know this is, in part, because we live in the world, instead of in our own little home.  I know that other people carry germs, and we come in contact with them, and there we are all sick again.  I get it.  No amount of cleaning will help.

Germs aside, here’s the thing I really don’t get: How is it possible that i spend so much time, and put so much effort into, cleaning my home, and I absolutely never feel like it’s clean?  NEVER.  There are always things out of place.  There are always dirty socks all over the house, a skateboard in the living room, 19 pairs of shoes strewn from one end of the house to the other, backpacks, lunchboxes, box projects, project boards, headphones, sweaters, 487,000 pens and pencils (but I can never find one when I need one!!), clean laundry waiting to be folded, folded laundry waiting to be put away, dirty laundry waiting to be washed ~ SO! MUCH!! LAUNDRY!!!  And dishes.  Always dishes.  Dishes waiting to be put away.  Dishes soaking in the sink.  Dishes waiting to be rinsed.  Dishes that have not been cleared.

So, I spend another good chunk of my time following people around and saying things like, “Put away your laundry.”  “Clear your dishes.” “Pick up your (socks, shoes, sweaters, headphones, backpack, box project…)” and they do.  It gets done.  And then, I turn around and see it.  My stuff.  All of my stuff.  All piled up, waiting for me to deal with it.  My magazines.  The bills.  My laundry.  The stuff I took out of one purse that won’t fit in to the new purse, but I still need to put away.  That project I’m working on.  That other project I’m working on.  That OTHER project I’m working on, and…HOLY CRAP!  WHY AM I WORKING ON SO MANY PROJECTS?!?!!  I don’t have time for this!!

And then I get a call.  A friend is coming over.  A client of Shane’s will be swinging by to pick up/drop off whatever. My kid is sick, and I need to pick her up. Someone has a flat tire, forgot her glasses, inhaler, or something else without which she actually can’t function.  And so, my pile of stuff gets set aside.  Piled on top of another pile of my stuff.  Shoved in my bedroom.  The laundry I was going to put away, the dishes I was going to do, that project ~ or other project…or OTHER project ~ is set aside.  Again.  It just keeps piling up.  Sure, I chip away at it here and there, but there is always something new to add to the pile. The bills always get paid, but more bills come.  Often, I am tempted to just throw out everything else, and start over; but, to be honest, I have tried this, and, invariably, as soon as the garbage was picked up, we needed something that was in that pile, despite the fact that we hadn’t seen it for three years.

In my mind, I am organized.  In my dreams, I am organized.  I have an uncanny ability to make myself appear to be organized when company arrives (unless they really know me, or have seen my bedroom); but, in practice, I fall short.  It’s not my fault, I was born short, and I kinda stayed that way.  🙂

I know they kids get irritated when they see that my room is not all that neat, and that I have a pile of stuff lying around the house, because they can’t understand why it is so important to me that they pick up their stuff.  What they might not understand is that it is also important to me that I pick up my stuff…I just can’t seem to ever get it done.  I mean, I do it, but then I turn around, and more has spontaneously generated somewhere else, and I have to start all over again.

I will keep trying.  I will keep trying because, if I don’t, we will be drowning in a sea of clutter.  I don’t know if I will every actually get it done.  I think, in my mind, I keep aiming for that moment when the house is clean, when, in fact, all I can do is keep trying to manage the clutter on a daily basis, keep scrubbing and cleaning and folding, and putting things away, and just hope I am doing a better than half-assed job of keeping the house reasonably neat.

Well, at least now, if you visit my house, you’ll know, it’s not messy because I like it that way.  It’s not messy because I don;t care that it’s messy, or because I don’t try.  It’s messy because there’s only one of me, and I just can’t seem to ever get it all done.  It’s messy because the mess just follows me everywhere I go.  Maybe, if I wasn’t busy with all those projects, I could get it pristinely clean.  If I never baked, or rescued a sick kid, or tended the garden, or ran someone’s glasses or inhaler to school.  Maybe, if I never went to lunch with a girlfriend, or went for a walk, or played my banjo, or blogged about what a mess my house was… Maybe, then, my house would be better organized.  Maybe then, everything would be in the way it is supposed to be.

Everything, that is, except me.

Back to the grindstone.

Maybe.

Or maybe I’ll pick up my banjo for just a few minutes first…

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The Nest ~ by Sam

Just returned from dropping off Justice for her Senior trip to Yosemite. Hallie spent the night at Makenzie’s, celebrating their birthdays with a few close friends. Kaia slept over at Sea World with her Girl Scout Troop, and will spend the day there. Shane is asleep, after picking up Justice at 3:30 this morning from a day (and Grad Night) at Disneyland/California Adventure. It’s just me, the cats, my birdie friend who sits on the telephone wire over the backyard every morning, a cup of coffee, and my banjo. Not a bad way to spend the morning, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I miss my girls. A few quiet moments here and there are nice, I suppose, but, at the end of the day, I still love the “wild rumpus.”

The older they get, the broader our circle becomes. I like to believe that they are not drifting away from us as they grow, but widening the arc in which they travel around the heart of our family ~ taking all of their awesome, unique energy out in to the world, and bringing more people in to our circle as they go. I know that my world is richer because they are in it. It only seems fair to share them with the rest of the world, even when I want, selfishly, to hold them close.

And now, prophetically, my little birdie friend has flown away, having chosen the perfect moment in my narrative to do so. I know she’ll return, tomorrow, only to fly off once more. Funny how that happens, isn’t it?