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On Time and Stuff (and hey, want some shoes?)

November 21, 2013

I consider myself an organized person.

My former office mate, whose desk was almost spotless (even his stapler and paper clips were kept neatly in a drawer organizer), might beg to differ, having witnessed my piles and post-its and more piles.  But I stacked neatly.  I knew where things were.

And then we had triplets.

And then we decided to remodel our basement.

Our basement is under renovation so we don’t have to Shop-Vac up water that seeped through the carpet and pad from a hard rain (though Dylan did warn us that it was a-gonna fall…).

Which means that everything that used to be stored out of sight is now either in storage at our gracious friends’ house (in their basement), or in our bedroom and office/guest bedroom/crap storage room.

Our house wasn’t so horribly disorganized.  I mean, I have been to homes that are clutter-sasters, the owners unwilling to part with items due to sentimentality or frugality or some other reason unfathomable to me.  I am a ruthless purger.

But you know those houses where no matter what time or day you walk in, things are organized?  Because the people living there have, like, systems, and they actually maintain the systems all the time?  My sister-in-law AJ is like that.  It’s amazing, and slightly intimidating.

I aspire to this.  It makes me feel better to live in a clutter-free space.  But we have so little time.  When exactly do we claw our way out from under the piles–after the dishes are done, the e-mails responded to, the how-was-your-day-honey conversations had?

Since starting my part-time job this September, I had to figure out some things.  First was how to feed myself and my family.  Once we got that down after a few weeks, it was will I exercise or blog ever again?  I strategized and got a schedule that worked.

And a few weeks ago, I realized that I was keeping up with the basic necessities as well as I could, but all the other things–the organizing, the paperwork, the volunteer commitments, the stuff that was backlogged in August–kept piling up.  And piling up.  And ohmygodI’mdrowning.

I couldn’t find socks because I hadn’t put away three loads of laundry.  My sunglasses got buried in what is ironically termed our “organization station” on our kitchen counter.  I wasted time I don’t have hunting things down.  Everywhere I turned, I was tripping over STUFF:  things we didn’t have a place for, or didn’t know what to do with, or were holding until we could donate it or give it back.  SO.  MUCH.  STUFF.

And then our former nanny, the inimitable Abbie, volunteered with her boyfriend to take our kids out for most of a day so we could work on our house kid-free.

Holy hallelujah.

On this Saturday, after the kids left with Abbie and Gavin for the Children’s Museum, we spent an hour going over paperwork from six months ago.  We spent an hour and a half cleaning out our bedroom, including the closet, which housed:

Cute.  But not mine.

Cute. But not mine.

  • approximately 82 dry cleaner hangers I’ve been meaning to bring back to the dry cleaners’
  • enough cat hair to construct another cat
  • a pair of shoes, not mine, that I borrowed probably four years ago and whose owner I have yet to find (are they yours?  I can ship them back to you)
  • Jimmy Hoffa

And then, Alan and I–gasp!–went out to lunch.  In our neighborhood.  By ourselves.

The office / guest bedroom is the next big project, as we only scratched the surface (but the surface revealed that we do actually still have a floor underneath all the cycled-out toys, bike tools, old birthday cards, and miscellany).

So thank you, Abbie and Gavin.  Thank you for liking our children enough to take charge of them for five hours.  Thank you for giving us the gift of time.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Abbie permalink
    March 15, 2014 12:21 am

    For some reason this is the only post I haven’t read ever. Hilarious. That was a wonderful day for us. We came home full of love and covered in almond butter and buoyed for the next thing that life threw at us. The opportunity to watch your children grow and my sporadic, microscopic part in it has made my world. You have no idea. So thank you for letting us take my three loves for the day and we can’t wait to do it again.

  2. December 5, 2013 12:09 am

    I so enjoy reading your reflections Michelle! Amidst the many transitions occurring in your home, it seems you have your priorities straight… your marriage, being a superb teacher, and an uber-superb parent… and caring for yourself. I find it impressive that come October (only a month in to returning to work), you HAD created and found time to continue your writing and exercise…. Wow! You remain a wonderful inspiration to me.

  3. Richard Ruth permalink
    November 22, 2013 5:26 pm

    Abbie and Gavin are awesome…but then you knew that.

  4. Neal & BJ permalink
    November 22, 2013 2:56 pm

    Sounds like a great day was enjoyed by all! I know the kids loved being with Abbie and Gavin, and I know the feeling was mutual. Love to all!!

  5. Suzanne Mulholland permalink
    November 22, 2013 6:47 am

    Unfortunately, I did not get my mother’s anal retentive gene for organization. My experience has taught me that the more places I have to put things, the more things I have. And many of these places turn into the Siberia of saved, unused stuff. Sad, but true. I certainly hope that AJ is right in your case. Alas, I ‘m sore afraid it wouldn’t work in mine.

  6. November 22, 2013 3:15 am

    You are too funny – thanks for the shout out! My anal retentive organization is somewhat of a disease:). You will get it all figured out and when the renovations are done I’m sure you’ll find a home for everything.

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