Someone once told me “dirty dishes, happy baby.” They meant to not worry about the messy house while my baby was young, because he needed me more than he needed a neat and tidy living space. Such good advice! Almost five years and one more kid later, I am still following it! But now it’s not by choice. There is just no time. And we live in…well not in total filth…but in total clutter because we would all rather run around outside than put this shit away. Instead, we just toss everything into a pile and say “I’ll deal with that later.”

We don’t. Let’s take a quick tour of the shit piles in my house:

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The train table is a popular place for piles and this one has it all. Some old toys that neither of the kids play with yet won’t let me get rid of, copious ride-on vehicles that are used for 15 seconds a week, a pile of papers, some representing just out of reach dreams (looking at your SCBWI folder!) and old photo booth photos, bills, a dangerous old candle and a forgotten cup of coffee.

Anxiety rating: ***

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In our living room we have a small desk for “writing”. It is actually used for piles. This one is a perfect snapshot if everything I hate in a pile: clothes that need to be put away, two backpacks that have no place to live, a script my husband wrote that is probably important so I’m too afraid to touch, a free Chick-fil-A book. Cleaning up this pile would take 4 seconds, but I literally will never find the time.

Anxiety rating: ****

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Fucking craft supples (the lighthouse houses half dead markers), barely-colored pages, and a pretty cute puzzle. I want to dump everything (but the puzzle) in the trash, but I can’t because the children need to be space to be creative?

Anxiety rating: ****

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This basket is intended to be for children’s shoes. It is instead a place to pile small coats, sweatshirts, and purses. I can’t fully explain why this makes me want to scream and curse, but it does. Maybe because there is a rack for hanging said items literally two feet before this basket, and yet it seems easier to just throw them in the basket when we come inside?

Anxiety rating: *****

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This pile is a real grab bag of shit. A bone for the dog. My good hat. A (probably) precious rock. A water bottle. Three small containers that all hold loose change and keys. If this photo was a still life painting, it would be titled: Failure.

Anxiety rating: ***

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What you are looking at is a box with a box inside of it which contains a ratty idea notebook and a bag of plastic jacks. Its a real Matryoshka doll of annoying shit. Is the notebook important? Maybe! Will the kids notice if I thrown out the jacks? Probably! Do I need two separate boxes to hold these two items? Apparently! Will any of this ever get sorted out? Fuck no!

Anxiety rating: **

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Oh god. This pile might be the one that does me in. It’s the perfect combination of things that could easily be put away (nail clippers, baby sweater) things that have no home (alphabet cards, duck stickers) things I never know what to do with (greeting cards that may or may not be special some day, a small blue radio), mysterious items (that black container…ratchets?), plus that FUCKING dangerous candle. The worst part is that everything is piled on top of my beloved filing cabinet, an item that represents order and organization. This pile is a slap in my face and I hate it more than any other pile in the house.

Anxiety rating: *********


If you divide the anxiety these piles of crap cause me with the happiness my kids have as a direct result of me not cleaning my house more, you’d probably not get anything because that’s not math. The only thing I know is that these piles may occasionally get picked up only to re-form in a slightly different location in my apartment minutes later.

I guess what I’m saying is that cleaning is awful and if your house looks better than mine at least I can say that I’m a better parent! Right?

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