Posted by: Patti Dickinson | 03/19/2010

Spring Break, 2010

Yup, guilty as charged.  This house is a contradiction, a melding of neat freak/slobbishness.

The house?  Picked up, bed made, and one, one pile of stuff on the kitchen desk that needs to be dealt with (track sweatshirt orders, catalogs, Guardian Angel Church bulletins, bills that need to be paid, and always a dozen little bits of paper with dates that need to go on the calendar).  I usually go through that stack daily, and to my knowledge that pile has never reached the bottom.  Never a pile of newspapers at the end of the driveway. Always put the trash/recycling at the end out on Sunday nights. We never forget.

A well-ordered life by anyone’s standards.

But now? Are you kidding me?  This is Spring Break.

The house occupancy has gone from four to seven.  College kids home…..and their night starts about the time I am shuffling around the house doing my last walk through the house for the evening, in robe and slippers locking all the doors and turning out the lights.  Most of my kids must have been absent for my crash course in “Locating and Filling/Emptying the Dishwasher”.  It is really unbelievable to me that my kids get within a foot of the dishwasher and somehow fall short, not able to complete that task that would lighten the heart and load of the mom in residence.  My back kitchen counter is completely covered in photo equipment. Andrew is a freshman journalism major at the University of Nebraska.  On that counter is a camera backpack, receipts for camera equipment he’s bought, an autographed book entitled, Rare:  Portraits of America’s Endangered Species by Joel Sartore.  (The author had been a guest speaker in one of Andrew’s classes.)  The rest of the counter is taken up with small stuff — several magazines, three other books, a camera, a photography video from LensWork.  This stuff has been on the counter for five days, and I suspect it will go from the counter to his car when he goes back to school.  The laundry room? Oh, it goes from everyone claiming that they have no laundry to having four loads haphazardly dumped in the laundry basket. Translation:  Some of the clothes don’t make it into the basket, but are in close vicinity. Translation:  Still on the floor of their room.  I am wondering, about now, why my kids’ behavior needs so much translating!!!

I guess you could say that probably most of us compartmentalize —-  deciding randomly what kind of chaos we will allow in different areas of our lives.  We find that tolerance level and pretty much stick with it in early adulthood.  (Makes me nervous, because Mary Morgan’s room is a train wreck …..and she’s reached young adulthood….) Kathleen — another young adult, living on her own in Chicago — ditto. Her chaos extends to the “unseen” as well.  She saves everything. The mistake we made with her was having an armoire in her room — and if you don’t think that thing can’t hold two-and-a-half decades worth of “treasures”, come visit!)

But I love the chaos, and the reminders of years gone by — those days when we had eight kids under this roof, sometimes spending the better part of a Saturday attending four soccer games.  Wood and I would say goodbye at 7:30 in the morning, each of us with two soccer players in the car, and the requisite cup of coffee to warm us as we stood in sleet/rain cheering our wanna-be World Cuppers to victory.  The meals — cooking spaghetti for ten, and at least two kids spilling their milk at any given dinner. One kid who always beat the others to the Lucky Charms box, and ate all the marshmallows out of the box before the others even had a chance (you know who you are!)  Wood coming in the door at 5:30, greeted by eight kids, happy to see him, anxious to share their day. Getting that last kid into bed, and knowing we had about 18 minutes before we, too, would fall into bed, exhausted.

I miss those days.  But I know that there is a reason why 50-somethings don’t have toddlers.  We raised those kids and most of them would probably say that we did a pretty good job.  None of them are felons.  All of them are living their lives with a good grasp on their strengths. I know that they are good people.  They are kind. They share an amazing likeness to the values, interests and passions that Wood and I have.  Inadvertently passed on either environmentally or DNA-ly.  I miss those that are “launched” and love having them home, dirty laundry and all.

Visit often and it’s okay to bring the chaos…The porch light is on.



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