Friday, March 17, 2006
One Step Behind
I can't keep up with my kids. There's only one of me and two of them, and even if I am more than twice as big I never feel like anything is quite done. Don't get me wrong; I do a lot, it just seems I don't finish much. Take laundry, for example. I try to limit my laundry to two days a week, Monday and Thursday. My goal is to do all the laundry, fold it and put it away by nightfall. Sometimes this happens, which is semi-satisfying until I glance into the dirty laundry basket and see that it's already half-full. Often though, all I get done is the washing and drying and am left with a huge pile of clothes on the couch to fold the next day- or the one after that. Or I'll get them all folded, only to have Alethea the Wrecker gleefully pull them all down from the coffee table. It makes me wonder if I should skip the folding step and just stuff them into everyone's drawers. Peregrine often puts his own clothes away which means that by the time they make it back to his room they've usually been dropped or have otherwise been unfolded. Maybe I should skip the folding and the putting away and we could all just pull our clothes out of the pile on the couch as we need them. It's not like we need that extra couch anyway.
Dishes are in the same category as laundry. It seems that they get dirty faster than I can clean them, and I even have a dishwasher. And then there are the kids toys. I have all their sets of toys in clear bins and we only get out one set at a time. But somehow pieces get left out and then they begin to migrate all over the house. I don't know how many times I've nearly tripped over toys in the kitchen. Or every other room of the house for that matter. I should mention the huge pile of mail that is sitting in the corner waiting for me to go through it. I've intended to do it every day this week, but it's Friday afternoon and the pile has only grown. Maybe this weekend.
On top of all the regular chores and housework are the things I always forget to factor in to my time management (or lack thereof). Like Peregrine getting ahold of a bag of polyester stuffing and taking it all out, one handful at a time. By the time I glanced his way the bag was empty and the floor and his sister were covered with wisps of stuffing. I'm sure he had fun doing it, and I really shouldn't have left it on the table where he could get into it. Later that morning I was on the phone for less than ten minutes when I looked over and he was merrily pulling the last few books off his shelf. He's known since he was tiny not to pull books off like that, and I can't remember the last time he did it. But he'd apparently noticed a similarity between the bookshelf and a set of bunk beds and decided he's like to use his shelf as a bed. Creative, I guess.
Alethea is really keeping me busy these days too. She has graduated from two naps a day to only one, and in her waking hours is exploring everything with great excitement. She pulls herself up on everything now and then starts yelling when she tires of standing. Sometimes she sits herself down but usually she just wants to be rescued. And she's learning to climb- up, that is. Then she yells when she realizes she doesn't know how to get down again. She wants desperately to be involved with whatever her brother is doing, and in between helping her learn to get down I'm already playing the mediator between these two. I feel like I run around, tidying, rescuing the baby, cooking, cleaning, reading stories, changing diapers, etc.
Being a homemaker is not for the person who needs instant gratification. It may not be apparent to the casual observer, but I'm constantly tidying the house. Believe it or not, my kids really do start the day with clean clothes and clean faces. By the time breakfast is done you can't tell, but there was half an hour there when they looked fresh and tidy and, well, cared for. Someday the house will stay clean for more than three minutes and my kids will wipe their own faces and have more interesting things to do than scatter stuffing all over the place. But for now I'll enjoy the patter of little feet and wiping sweet little faces: I'll help Poppy down from the laundry basket one more time and refold those clothes. I'll continue to clean up after them and to clean them up. And I'll give up on trying to stay a step ahead of my busy children; I'll settle for being only be one step behind.