The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics

Wikipedia gives a scientific definition for the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics that I can't really understand, so I'm going to go with the dumbed-down version, that things basically decay over time. An addendum to the law is that if children are present, things decay at an average increased rate of π÷√∝∑.99967. If you are not a math major (or especially if you are and know that makes no sense), that is A LOT. Whether you are talking about a sofa or a clean floor or just peace and quiet and sanity, things tend to fall apart rather quickly.

Just this week, for instance, a peaceful, orderly day was shattered when Charlotte calmly informed me she had inserted a craisin into her nasal cavity. This simple action resulted in a three hour ordeal that took us to the ER, then an ENT doctor, when the ER staff inexplicably could not remove the craisin (Gunshot wound? No problem. Craisin in the nose? Panic attack. To be fair, it was in the nose of a toddler, which is kind of like a bullet being in the head of an adult. At the end of the whole thing, I considered taking myself back to the ER for treatment). Fortunately, my husband was in the country for this ER visit, unlike the last one, so I didn't have to haul a newborn along for the ride. That would have 2nd-Law-of-Thermodynamic-ed what is left of my adrenal gland.

Or take a look at my house, which is impossible to keep clean and/or neat for more than 7.2 seconds. For some reason, I insist on picking up, every so often, all the toys and empty toilet paper rolls and burp clothes that litter the landscape as if a world war had been recently fought here. I do this because I need psychological help and probably some Paxil. Here is my dirty little secret: I am a recovering neat freak. Motherhood is my rehab program. Just as people with phobias are treated with exposure therapy, I am treating myself by living in a house with dozens of crappy McDonald's toys made in China. My mantra, which I repeat to myself multiple times a day, is, "It does not matter if my house is messy. It does not matter if my house is messy." On a bad day, it is, "The toys are not alive and cannot hurt me" or "I will not end up on a TLC hoarders show if I go to bed without sorting the toy bins." A monthly maid service is a stop gap measure in case I catch a glimpse under the dining room table (also to maintain a basic level of sanitation of course). I have also thus far refrained from telling Kevin is it over between us due to his penchant for leaving a trail of burp cloths wherever he goes with Lawson. Of course, Kevin has his own mental illness with which to grapple, and that is his fear of any foreign bodily fluids touching him or his clothes. We have both managed to hold it together and are gradually learning how to co-exist with chaos and bodily fluids. Lots of bodily fluids. We still refuse to go on vacation with our children, however. We know our limits.

You don't have to have kids, however, to be undone by chaos. After all, our entire existence hovers on the brink at all times and is in a constant state of decay if not kept up. We spend our lives struggling to maintain order, control, health, youth, relationships. And we are all neurotic as a rule. I've become convinced that those who are most comfortable with chaos are the most happy, unless the chaos just completely overruns them, then they really do end up on a TLC show. Whenever I am in a really messy house, I am horrified, but I am also filled with admiration. I'm thinking, this woman has presumably been living with laundry, play dough AND dirty dishes stacked on her formal dining room table for days if not weeks, and she is still standing here speaking English as if the world were not in danger? Is she some kind of super hero who is immune to all mental illness?

Kids also do a number on a marriage. When Kevin and I finally get both kids in bed on a Friday night, we are too exhausted to do anything but fall asleep on the couch watching Dateline NBC and eating bean dip. If we decide to go all out and have a glass of wine, well, there is some drool involved. I am hoping we are also both too tired to have an affair. I know I am, affairs seem like a whole lot of work. Plus I would have to leave the house for that and probably even take a shower.

Well, gotta go. The toys are calling me. No, seriously, I think there must be something lodged on top of Charlotte's Pooh phone.


  1. I am hoping we are also both too tired to have an affair.

    Dr Laura has had some callers who had affairs when they had young children. Her question to them is always an amazed, "When did you find time?!"

    My aversion therapy program for being Type A was two years living in South America, where nothing starts on time, nobody stands in line or if they do, it is an hour-long line to pay the gas bill with cash because of course you can't open a checking account as a Peace Corps volunteer and it has never occurred to the gas company to allow people to pay their bills at other outlets like the grocery store because WHO CARES IF THE CUSTOMER IS INCONVENIENCED?


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