I scooped up the books and headed toward the school/dining room to place them on the table where the kids would begin looking for them tomorrow only to find the table so full of the rest of school that I had to clear space to make a new pile. Discouraged, I took a deep breath, picked up an empty teacup, and turned the light off on the mess, trusting that tomorrow's daylight would make the piles appear less oppressive.
Intending to place the teacup into the sink, I veered into the kitchen nearly tripping over discarded Elmo slippers and a felled block castle. When I stopped to right my balance, my desk, or what had been my desk earlier in the day loomed into view. How did I let it get so awfully piled under?
Probably in the same way my bedroom, where I attempted to take refuge next, did. My life, my real life, is a pile of messes or maybe a mess of piles. Piles of clothes, piles of books, piles of dishes, piles of paper, and piles of people...I could decide to wallow in these piles and let them defeat me, let them sap my energy, let them beat me down mentally, let them define me...I could, I have before, in fact I often do but I certainly don't have to.
Tonight, instead of lamenting, I'm going to look at things a bit differently...
Instead of seeing this messy couch, I could appreciate the evidence that a child, the one who was determined not to learn to read, appears to have been reading ahead in her school book while her little sister and her pet horse listened.
A table full of the expansion of young minds (young minds who must use their young hands to make space in the morning for more learning!).
Here is where a little girl chose to play so that she could be close to the rest of us just in case someone found a moment to play with her.
The spilled blocks attest to the castle her sister found time to help her build.
This desk, in this condition means that I'm needed here and there to teach (read: learn along with) folks who love to learn and who don't mind my yammering on now and then. This desk, in this condition also means that I have a space to call my own in this very real life of mine.
Note: most things that are my own tend to exist in this condition eventually, sad but true.
More's the pity.
Below you see a pile of bags, laying in front of a pile or six of books. I see trips taken in those bags yet to be unpacked, and adventures yet to be enjoyed in those books yet to be savored.
(I also see a possible need for a new bookshelf!)
I see a red pillow...
...a red pillow which points to...
...a completely disheveled bed. A bed that was properly made and pillows that were primly fluffed first thing this morning but which hosted a napping four year old who feels like a real princess when allowed to sleep "in Daddy's place."
It was not one small child who wreaked such havoc on this bed though, it was four children of various sizes who are guilty. Ok, four children and a forty-year-old who insisted that a bedtime story be shared instead of dealing with the couch and the kitchen floor and the school table and the desk and the...
I'm always going to have things to clean, to pick up, and to fold because the days always insist on leaving their remains. I'm not always going to be able to fit four willing kids onto my bed to listen to me read to them.
Oh yes, this place is a supreme mess but tomorrow awaits and maybe we will shovel through and dig out just in time for the weekend, or maybe, just maybe, we'll grab our book and a blanket and head to the park to capture that last warm day that fall offers us!
"The crickets felt it was their duty to warn everybody that summertime cannot last forever. Even on the most beautiful days in the whole year--the days when summer is changing into fall--"
E.B.White in Charlotte's Web