Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The joy of embracing chaos

"My kitchen this week is the opposite of an immaculate kitchen." This is how Sabrina used the word "immaculate" in a recent homework assignment. "Great," wrote the teacher. She even gave her a check plus.

I had to laugh. Our entire house is your basic disaster zone, because we're finishing up the kitchen renovation, unpacking boxes full of possessions, assembling baby gear and washing and organizing baby clothing.

This is the opposite of how life usually is at home. I like order. I grew up in a small apartment with a pack rat dad, and neatness has always been important to me for peace of mind. When life felt like it was spiraling out of control during Max's first year, and I didn't know whether he'd ever walk or talk, having stuff in place at home gave me some sense of order. At the very least, I could just close the door to our messy playroom and cluttered basement, working that out-of-sight-out-of-mind thing.

Max has made incredible progress. So much so that one reason we procrastinated having a third kid was because we were in a good groove with parenthood. We knew what to do, organized chaos at its best. And we knew we'd shake it all up by adding a baby to the mix. (The payoff being...A BABY.)

When you do a renovation, though, you have to give in to chaos. So for six weeks, I've ignored the pileup of boxes, furniture, paperwork, shoes, clothing, mail, construction material, rolls of toilet paper conveniently stacked in our foyer, you name it. Oh, and yes, the pileup of dust and dirt.

This has been incredibly freeing. Therapeutic, even.

As I write this, my desk is covered in forms for the kids' schools, paperwork to fill out for my delivery, bills, lists for Max's bar mitzvah in April, a box with rejected cabinet pulls I need to return, you name it. This is the desk we need to sock away in storage within the next week to make room for the baby's crib, and I have no idea where I'm going to put everything. But all I am thinking is, "I will deal tomorrow because I am so done for the day."

Old me used to stay up till midnight to neaten up the house and clear off as much work as I could from my plate. Post-renovation me (also known as 35-weeks-and-four-days-pregnant me) accepts that life as I know it won't fall apart if, say, I hold off another day on ordering Suzuki Violin School: Volume 4 for Sabrina.

Yesterday I was talking with a friend who recently had a baby, and we were laughing about how even dusting off a single shelf when you're a new mom can be quite the accomplishment, as much as you may struggle with your usual impulses to get things done.

The only thing I'm planning on with having a newborn: surrendering to a complete lack of control. And when Sabrina has another vocabulary assignment and writes something like, "My house and my mother are both in a state of disarray," I will once again laugh. A little hysterically, perhaps.


  1. I used to rule the world...

  2. Thanks for the post. I wanted to share my feelings on Raising a Child With Special Needs.

  3. My suggestion: get a cleaning person at least once a week. It's the best way to spend your money, because it leaves you some quality time with your kids AND spouse. The downside: it's addictive :)

  4. Congratulations. I'm also pregnant 10 weeks as of yesterday. Have you had a baby shower yet? When are you due?


Thanks for sharing!

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