Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Welcome to My Disaster Area

This is picked up

I sleep under fine art







The very latest in home decorating




We did this, yep.






A couple of weeks ago we went to a friend of Noodle’s on a play date. It turned out to be the kind of house that makes me feel bad about my house. Not a brand-new shiny McMansion, no. The kind that used to be a fixer-upper. That was then very thoroughly fixed-up.

You know, like what my house could look like. If I actually ever did anything to it.
This house was sparkly remodeled but livable and personal. The children’s rooms were nicely appointed and their toys were arranged in little vignettes on shelves. Family photos hung on the wall in neat rows. Cupboards and wainscoat were painted fresh white. Furniture was perky, d├ęcor just so. It was very lovely. I kind of wanted to move in.

The chickens and I came home to our own house, which seemed to have been mobbed by five-year-old Hells Angels in our absence. Mismatched toys littered the floor, piles of dishes mixed with art supplies in the kitchen, books were haphazardly crammed onto shelves, crayon covered the walls, stickers were stuck to the floor, the Christmas tree tipped at an odd angle.

In other words, it was exactly how I’d left it that morning.

I raced around trying to right a few of the most egregious wrongs, wondering how soon I could convince Captain Daddy to repaint the entire interior, before stopping dead in the living room with this realization.

I kind of like my house.

Even with Crayola walls and kid-art haphazardly taped everywhere, including the headboard of my bed. Even with a dozen slightly mutilated magic wands shoved in a vase instead of flowers in the dining room.

Sure, there are things that I’d like to fix, like the unpainted sheetrock in the basement and the stained linoleum in the bathroom. But when I look at those things in better moods, I see not ugly imperfection, but time—time spent elsewhere.

Time spent reading books to the chickens or hiking in the woods as a family or reading the New Yorker or writing a book or even sleeping. Time spent in pursuits other than beautifying my home. Which has never been nor will ever be my priority. And that’s just me. And so be it.

My chickens won’t grow up in bedrooms with beautifully arranged shelves of perfect toys. They will grow up, for better or worse, with a clear sense of my values, which are: people first, play second, work that makes you feel good third, work that impresses the neighbors last.

(This explains many things, including the fact that my median income over the last ten years is about what it cost to buy a Toyota ten years ago, and that there are several decaying objects in my backyard, including a rusted-out cruiser bicycle (though I actually blame Captain Daddy for that one. Funny. We share the same priorities.))

This epiphany made me so cheery I put the pile of kid art back from where I’d scooped it and sat down with the new Sue Grafton novel. Now that I’ll be happy I devoted time to when I am on my deathbed.

It's a caterpillar, duh

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