I like things clean, orderly, and sparse.
My preferred aesthetic, while inescapably American because I am inescapably American, has a distinct Scandinavian feel. For me, more is less. I'm not a fan of knickknacks. I am not particular sentimental about stuff.
More important than design, however is this: I like to actually see the floor, the kitchen table, and the counter tops. I don't like when there are old dishes in the sink or when things are sticky. I don't like the laundry that sometimes piles up on the trampoline in the living room and stays there for, oh, more than a week.
Here's 2/3 of everyone else in my household:
The closest I can come to describing their preferred aesthetic (insofar as they have one) would be: KEEP ALL THE THINGS AND PUT THEM ON TOP OF THE EXISTING THINGS FOREVER UNTIL ALL SURFACES ARE THOROUGHLY COVERED.
The mister falls into the kids' camp but has so graciously adapted to meet my expectations re: how a house should look. Possibly because he knows I will and have gone raging bonkers when all the detritus of life starts to build up around me. Who wants a wife who's trudging around the house muttering about clutter? No one, that's who.
And yet sometimes I feel like I do nothing outside work except wipe shit down and put stuff away.
Therein lies a big part of the problem I have with family life. I work here, for goodness sake.
Like, P., you just left your dirty socks in what is my office. Never mind that it's also the living room and why are you leaving your socks in the middle of the living room?!
Just imagine if your laundry pile and your dirty dishes followed you to the office every day, riding next to you on the train and sitting there while you made calls. There's a reason that offices have cleaners come in overnight - messes are distracting!
Look, I think I do a good job.
At work and at playing stay at home mom when I'm actually half stay at home mom and half working mom. On top of my own feelings about clutter, I am motivated by a very real - and very silly - need to put my best face forward in all things. I run a tight ship, and I wouldn't have things any other way... frustration and all.
But the good Lord forgive me because I do sometimes, very rarely but sometimes, think about how much easier it would all be if I didn't have a family.
All that clutter? Is the stuff of life. Four lives, crammed into one space. Four people with different ideas about how things should look and where things should go and when the right time really is to put away bath toys and who should do that.
Four people doing things. Work. Crafts. Cooking. Playing. When I wander around the house picking up this or that I am immersed in the experience of being a part of a family. I wouldn't give it up for anything, but it is sometimes so frustratingly in opposition to my personality.
Twice in my life I have lived alone with no parents or roommates or SO. No lie, it can get a little lonely - especially when you're living in a great big house and all your friends are far away or you're living in a country where you can barely speak the language and your SO is thousands of miles away. But oh, the freedom of it.
The freedom to keep things spotless. The freedom to throw out anything without fear of little voices wondering where some tiny piece of Chinese made crap has gotten to. The freedom to just sit for a while with a cup of coffee without knowing that someone somewhere is disrupting the peace you have been struggling to create.
Maybe, just maybe, I am not suited to the chaos of family life by nature.
And maybe that's why I am tackling it, why I keep tackling it knowing it is a battle I cannot win, with the same gusto I reserve for all the things that are hard. I just have to keep reminding myself that the messes mean we're all still here. That's plenty to be joyful about and maybe if I can find it in myself to be a little more joyful, life will seem a little less messy.