In my youth, I was a neat-freak. I made my bed everyday, wiped the crumbs from the kitchen counter, placed a few select knick-knacks precisely where they’d balance each other out. I was super-organized; everything had its place.
Then I got married.
Once you choose to live with another human being, you learn very quickly that you must re-order your ideas of acceptable living space, and make compromises. My husband isn’t a slob. It’s just that clutter tends to congregate around him. He has different ideas on acceptable levels of dirt and dust, or what constitutes “curtains”. He also has a love for shiny things like gems and rocks, marbles, dice, coins, glass figures and bottles, and other sundry small, cluttery things I call “dust magnets”. But I didn’t want to be one of those nagging wives who wouldn’t allow her husband to be comfortable in his own home. So I adjusted my standards and moved on.
Then I had a baby.
More adjustments ensued, as baby gear and toys littered my tiny apartment space. Endless formula bottles dripped in the sink. Even when we moved from our one-bedroom apartment to our current two-bedroom townhouse, Lilly and her piles of “stuff” took over more and more real estate. Our coffee table is now her art studio, covered with construction paper, two buckets of crayons and markers, glitter glue, and bits of paper from cuttings and projects. What was once a baker’s rack now holds piles of coloring books and a basket of small items that continually accumulate: marbles, dice, rocks, plastic happy meal toys, birthday party favors, and the like. Her works of art cover our walls, deservedly.
Add to that a cat that deposits fur everywhere and occasionally pukes up hairballs, and you’ve got a pretty good idea at the state of my house.
I could spend endless hours cleaning, organizing, and spiffing up my living space. It would certainly lessen the anxiety I often feel at the sight of my cluttered world. But I don’t. I’ve learned to embrace the chaos, and only spend the minimum amount of time for basic cleanliness. Why? Because I’m a writer.
I decided a long time ago that I can worry about a clean house, or I can write. When I’m old and gray and looking back on my life, which will I regret more-not spending enough time cleaning, or not spending enough time writing?
I choose to put more importance on writing, dust bunnies be damned.
Maybe someday I’ll have the house of my dreams: a feng-shui paradise of clean, bright, minimalist space. Or not. What’s important is what I do in the space that I have: spend time with my (messy) family, and write.