I crave the satisfaction of being able to check something off of my to do list. Anything. I am bouncing around the house trying to pick up the scatter of clutter that easily accumulates with each passing minute, while never quite rejoicing in the victory of having an entire room clean. There is still one thing left to do that leads to another and another. I cleaned the babies’ room, but the mess of clothes is still sitting on the dresser; I cleaned the kitchen but there is still a rack of dishes to dry and put away. I sit in my room, trying to get into writing mode. My headphones are in tact, cancelling out the chaos that is my husband and my children trying to navigate a world I am absent from, even if for just an hour. My headphones block the after school chatter, the toddlers demanding to watch TV, Josh taking over the kitchen and I am hiding from the chaos. All of it – centered on our disorganized family in our disorganized little life. What is it like to have four kids? Complete fucking chaos, all the time. My corner of our house, my room, is a complete cluster of clothes that I keep putting off organizing – just like everything else.
“Remember in fifth grade when I was super organized?” says Olivia (the girl who used to schedule “chill time” from 7-8 pm every day). “I used to get really upset when I couldn’t follow my schedule, even when I was late going to bed.” “I don’t understand how anyone can follow a schedule or do stuff on lists”. Layla retorts. They resume their positions of tuning out requests to help out. Josh and I are planning a date. We need one. It hasn’t been the easiest few weeks. It never is, but when we retreat to our own little emotional hibernation as things get complicated, shying away from being the first to admit there is a problem even if it is a tiny one. My attempt at organizing – calendars, post it notes, passive aggressive stares, all of it feels unnoticed. Spousal amnesia sets in as I remind him over and over what my plans were for the next day. I will be out of town. I say, slowly trying to tuck away any annoyance in the hidden direction of my tone. I know we need a reset, a date. We can sit at a table and talk directly to each other. We aren’t sitting in our living room in the midst of a child tornado spinning toys and shoes and coats and backpacks all around our feet. We can sit, alone, without having to clean the kitchen for the millionth time that day in order to eat dinner. No one will scowl at me, accusingly holding overly wrinkled clothing that sat in the dryer for days too long since I am obviously the only person who knows how to fold. The two of us have retreated in chaos for the last few weeks – chaos of our house and of the unknown. I silently blamed him for things I was upset with myself about. Why can’t he organize my time better? He cheated on me – he binge cheated on me. He found a new show and watched an entire season without me even knowing it existed. Who are we? We have been living in a parallel and everything about our date night is needed and necessary to find a little order in the midst of such chaos. I get a flutter in my stomach – not quite sure if it is excitement to date my husband for a night or anxiety of digging through my closet to find the perfect outfit.
I contemplate what to wear as I run my hands along the top shelf of a makeshift closet. It has no doors- that is another day’s project. It is barely visible and the only common ground for all the clothes is that they are black. I tug on black cotton trying to figure out if it is a pair of yoga pants or some fabulous shirt that I completely forgot I had. No luck. The second shelf boasts a random collection of useless objects. A small mug contains anything silver that has no other place like nickels, nails and keys to doors unknown. Next to it is a colorful photo box full of sewing notions and reminders of all the little sewing projects I have yet to start. A second photo box is mainly dedicated to jewelry, the kind that needs an entire afternoon of untangling before wearing. Next to it sits a bottle of baby lotion. I smile because I put it there to hide from Jackson, about a year ago. He was in his “eating lotion” phase. This object contains a memory – that is why I can’t get rid of it. I imagine telling the cast of “Hoarders”. But it does, I will probably forget that Jackson had a craving for lotion when he got out of the tub. I continue to build a case in my head for the dozens of oddly placed objects around my room and the rest I swear I threaten the infamous donation bag. One day. I feel chaos. I get dressed in chaos, finding a jacket that I have yet to wear after three years of owning. I need something beautiful, something that makes me feel like something other than a tired ass mom that spends entire days folding laundry and cleaning the kitchen. On this day, I declare victory and order over my chaos – if only for a few hours.