Alice bit the end off of a marker today. I was really confused at first. She handed me a marker with the stub of an end and I couldn’t figure out what had happened. It was one of those special color magic type things where it only works on the special paper. It wasn’t until I found the crumbs of the marker tip on the floor hidden amongst the puzzle pieces, crushed baby crunchies, and DUPLO bricks that I put two and two together. She then later bit the end off of a green highlighter, the tell-tale signs of her non-toxic snack lingered in fluorescent green around her mouth.
I’ve never had a clean house. I grew up in a constant state of clutter. Maybe once a month we would all spend an entire Saturday getting the house back in order, complete with screaming and arguments from us kids who would much rather spend a Saturday playing computer games or riding bikes around the neighborhood. It was a struggle. My dad was doing the best he could and worked long hours. Clutter was what we were accustomed to, and any changes to that routine were resisted.
Well, “never” isn’t quite accurate. When my father married a lovely Canadian nurse with a neat streak, we all had to learn how to pick up after ourselves. At that point, resistance was futile. I was a teenager then and completely stuck in my ways, but I learned to tidy up. I learned to put things away. I learned that when everyone helps every day we have way more time to spend on fun things, like going kayaking or out to the movies. That structure was not only a godsend, it was necessary.
Growing up with anxiety and depression, I found that being in a clean environment calmed some of my daily worries. I was no longer embarrassed when friends came over. I could find everything I wanted or needed within minutes and without driving myself into a panic. Over time I learned to really appreciate living in an organized household. It became part of my wellness plan. (Thanks, Mum. You’re the best.)
I find myself back in a constant state of clutter. Toddlers are not the best picker-uppers. Alice loves to “help” me. She throws things away, which is great until you find your socks in the trash. Adding toys to bins is successful until she’s done, at which point she pulls everything out again. She wipes down surfaces with used tissues, mushing snot into the upholstery. Alice even has her own vacuum—a Dyson toy replica—but would prefer to use the real one by “helping” me push it and then throwing tantrums when I don’t take it where she wants to go.
I love that she’s slowly learning to pitch in. I want that to be a part of her everyday routine so that she doesn’t have to learn the hard way like I did. My mental health is taking a hit with my house being in a constant state of chaos. I have a hard time focusing on work and play when all I can see is a mess. And I’m back to being embarrassed when people come over.
I know, I’m a mom of a toddler. It won’t be perfect. I can accept that. I guess I’d just like it to be a little better than it is now. Maybe then it wouldn’t be so difficult to figure out why the ends of markers keep going missing.