I have a dream
One of the toughest things for me about being a mom is watching my house constantly refill with crap, like some kind of 7-11 Big Gulp cup. There must be some kind of genetic aversion to clutter and chaos, and I have a very bad case of it. It is slightly situational in my case. If something completely belongs to me, such as my desk at work, I am not nearly so anal, and in fact, my co-workers may even call me disorganized (shocking!). But sharing a space with other people who do not also share my vision for home organization is enough to send me over the edge. As my kids have gotten older, I don't think it's the disorder so much that drives me crazy (although it has increased exponentially), it's the fact that they have independent means of acquiring crap and scattering it all about the house. In sum, I think it's pretty obvious that the root issue is CONTROL. I don't like feeling like I have none.
The solution to this is of course to work on myself and my need to feel in control of my environment, because clearly, I am the problem, and more specifically, I am the only part of the problem that I have any chance of solving, because let's just face facts, it is more likely that Donald Trump will inspire a new trend in men's hairstyles than my children will start organizing anything. It ain't happening. But allow me my fantasy for just a moment, to imagine a world where all the people work together to make me less crazy.
Fantasy #1: Parents stop sending goody bags home from parties. Oh my sweet angel Gabriel do I despise those things. They are engineered to produce parental insanity. They usually consist of: a ring pop, in order that your child both rot their teeth and ruin your sofa at the same time, would that the federal government operate with that kind of efficiency; a pencil, a useful item in theory, but when your child already has 107 unsharpened pencils laying around the house, not so much, unless you are planning to build a tree house or refloor your house with them; an eraser so tiny, it is guaranteed to end up wedged between your toes if not in your butt crack and has no hope of erasing anything bigger than a pencil lead molecule; a roll of stickers that your child immediately decoupages your dining room table with; several plastic Chinese-made items, the most popular being tops that don't spin, spider rings that don't fit on anyone's finger, sunglasses that melt in the sun, bouncy balls that don't bounce or else bounce so vigorously they take out several windows within minutes of entering the house. Extra-special goody bags include tiny stuffed animals that come undone and leave a gruesome trail of polyester intestines in their wake; tiny tubs of play dough, which will inevitably be left on the floor with the cap off overnight and provoke a massive fit the next morning when you are unable to make the play dough elephant your preschooler requires for survival from the pile of dried out crumbs that remains; and tiny boxes of poor quality crayons that are probably made from whatever is left from whatever they make hotdogs out of. This fantasy could actually be a reality if all parents came together and just said NO and started doing what I have begun doing, because I am just that awesome, giving books out to party guests, who probably already have too many books and aren't terribly enthused, but at least books are less likely to turn a perfectly lovely mother into a some sort crazed drill sergeant who roams through the house compulsively throwing things into a trash bag.
Fantasy #2: Schools stop sending home paper. The digital age has arrived everywhere except America's public schools. Correction, the digital age has arrived in America's public schools if you are talking about issuing iPads to kindergartners so they can read the very same book that is on that shelf over there on an iPad and parents can be forced to pay for the iPad when their kindergartner breaks or loses it. God forbid we use the iPads to email things to parents instead of killing a rain forest or three with a stack of flyers, letters, announcements, and of course, forms that stacked altogether could build a paper bridge to Mars to save Matt Damon. That would be a bridge too far (I KILL myself). What is really, really offensive its that children's backpacks seem to have replaced the US postal service as a conduit for junk mail marketing. How is it a good use of teachers' time and parents' sanity to be stuffing flyers for the YMCA fall festival or ads for custom clothing labels in my kid's backpack? ENOUGH.
Fantasy #3: People stop giving my child craft sets for their birthdays. I know I sound like an ingrate, but my soul just can't handle these. If my child could make an adorable sock puppy all by herself (or wanted to) that would be one thing, but let's face it, I'm gonna end up making that damn puppy AND THEN I'm gonna end up with a button eye in my butt crack, along with the tiny eraser, when the dismembered sock puppy ends up in my bed. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I DON'T DO CRAFTS. And a big reason why I don't do crafts is that after you do crafts, you have to DO SOMETHING with the crafts, unless you are so talented that you can make something you would actually want to use or display long term in your home or on your person, like a refrigerator or a diamond necklace. If my child and I could make a refrigerator together (with ice dispenser, because I actually do need one of those), then you may give me a craft set. Alternatively, if you plan to come over to my house and do the craft set with my child and then remove the finished product from the premises, you may give me a craft set. If this is not how you want to use your Saturday, I beg of you, no craft sets of any kind. Please, I sadly don't have that kind of mental health.
Fantasy #4: My children actually put away their toys. Ideally I would add "in an organized fashion," but that is a dream too big for my brain to dream, at least until the day that I become BFFs with Bono, Oprah, Tina Fey, and Stephen Colbert, and we all retire together in adjacent tiny houses surrounding a central clubhouse with a pool and gourmet chef on an island in the Pacific purchased for us by Oprah. When that dream comes true, then I will allow myself to consider an existence in which my children grasp the brilliance of the bin system I have going on and become my partners in its maintenance. Until then, I would actually just settle for them keeping the toys in the 3 rooms that belong to them. How hard is that? In Africa, families of 15 live in 3 rooms, but that is apparently insufficient lodging for my children's toys, like they are some kind of family of Dallas ranchers or late 19th century imperialists with sprawling ambitions.
Fantasy #5: My husband keeps being the funny, sexy, brilliant best friend that he already is. And that he keeps his toiletries on his side of the vanity. And occasionally puts his change in the designated receptacle. And throws away his receipts and pocket litter, puts his shoes inside this closet, and keeps his closet in such a state that I can actually open its door and put away a shirt without having a panic attack. Honey, it's not you, it's me. You already confine yourself and your stuff in an area of the house so small the tiny lego people that also end up in my butt crack at night, along with the tiny erasers and the sock puppy eyes, could not make a comfortable home there. I full acknowledge that I am a complete head case. A complete headcase with a dream, nonetheless.
Fantasy #6: No one in my house has any shoes or any coats except for me. I, of course, have as many as I like, which I keep organized in their own room. Also, that fruits and vegetables never go bad in my refrigerator. And, nothing ever breaks or needs repair or cleaning in my entire home. Lastly, that Robert Mugabe just goes ahead and dies. And Donald Trump and Kim Kardashian run away together to live out their days on a remote Mongolian steppe. This one is a catch-all fantasy.
Basically: I have a dream today, to one day live in a Pottery Barn catalog with no other people anywhere in the vicinity but that I somehow never get lonely or need anyone for anything and my diapers will magically change themselves when I am 90. Then me and the tiny lego people and the sock puppies can all join together and sing, me from my Pottery Barn house and they from the trash can where they will live for eternity, Free At Last, Free At Last, Thank God Almighty, We are Free At Last. And a little bit bored and lonely, quite frankly. But mostly free.