The other night I collapsed in a heap on the sofa, a glass of wine sloshing around precariously in my exhausted, tingling hand. I was done and so was my body. You see, I had spent much of the day pushing myself to my very limits in a bid to get on top of the messy shambles that my house is rapidly becoming.
As many of you will know, children make a lot of mess. I was a particularly messy child myself, much to the dismay of my room sharing sister! Well, now it would appear that I am paying the price as my own children run riot and litter the place with things and bits and actual rubbish that means so much to them but so little to me. One of their favourite pastimes is to disband sofa cushions to all corners of the house, or to pile them up in a heap on the floor, or to throw them randomly, often narrowly avoiding my face or, more frequently where my youngest is concerned, hitting me square on the nose. And it’s not just cushions that they throw.
Endless amounts of toys get lodged or lost or left in the most inconvenient of places, sometimes never to be seen again. Unfortunately, those things that I’d rather they did lose are never hard to find, for example, Hula Hoops in my bed. The staircase regularly becomes a death-trap, each step taken up by dinosaurs, cuddly toys, books and, most deadly of all, LEGO!
I feel as though I am living inside an obstacle course. To get across a room I will have to crawl under, climb over and tiptoe my way through a jungle of mess. Sometimes I can’t even open a door because it is wedged shut by toys, and when I eventually force my way in a clatter of clutter will descend upon me.
And yet I seem to spend my life tidying up. But that’s not enough. I am trapped in a never-ending cycle of putting things away. Piles of much loved and played with toys is one thing, piles of much loved and played with pieces of garbage is quite another. I am not allowed to throw anything away. That includes food boxes, toilet rolls, bottle lids, anything that might have the potential to become one of my son’s many ingenious inventions.
Whenever a parcel arrives, which is pretty often these days, I have to hope and pray that my children don’t notice. I must surreptitiously smuggle the boxes upstairs and out of sight, being sure to dismantle the packaging swiftly and silently so as to avoid being heard. Otherwise, this happens:
I am not allowed to throw away old socks, apparently, they make good puppets:
I am not allowed to throw away my daughter’s used plasters. And I’m not allowed to throw away anything from this pile of precious treasures:
I have a piece of dried-up Blu Tack that I’m not allowed to chuck. And a collection of bottles and flasks that my children refuse to drink from but will not let me throw away.
On the day that I was overcome with exhaustion I had somehow summoned the courage to have a serious clear-out. I loaded the car while the kids were at school and, feeling like a terrible duplicitous mother, I banished the mess from the house.
Or, at least, a teeny tiny fraction of the mess. I still have the sock.