Today I cleaned the playroom. Actually I started at 9:15 last night. It was an utter disaster. I am perfectly aware that my children should clean their playroom but I was tired of the existing mess. And I realized that I’m the mom of this household and there really needs to be some kind of organization in there. I’m not talking labels, but I have a habit of rearranging furniture and never figuring it out completely and leaving the room a bit disheveled. In my husband’s words, I “never complete a project.” And that is what happened in there many moons ago.
For some reason after I watched an episode of Love Boat on the DVR with a cup of hot coffee and a cookie, I went upstairs for something or other and eventually found myself in the playroom. Since the kids were in bed, I realized this was the ideal time to grab some crap off the floor that had been needing to be headed for the garbage can for more than half a year. The thought crossed my mind, “is this what my mom used to do when I was a kid? This sneaky behind the scenes stuff?” To borrow Shel Silverstein’s words, I am Hector the Collector. I’m not a hoarder but I have a hard time letting go. Everything means something. So half the time I run through one of my kids’ rooms and something catches my eye, like a paper hat, statue of liberty style, (or detective style, or 100 Days of school style) that was dang cute on their head coming home from school, but is just screaming “recycle me!” And I’ll pick it up, look at it, remembering how cute they look in this thing, presume they’ll wear it while playing pretend, and set it back down. Needless to say, the playroom has been deprived of “maintenance” for many months.
I remember when I was little I asked my mom if she had seen “Patches,” one of my stuffed animals. And she told me she got rid of it because I never played with it. “You got rid of it?!” I couldn’t believe it! I was so mad. Why was I not consulted on this?! But now as a thirty-nine year old mom, I see the need for this behind the scenes Mommy Maintenance. My two daughters have enough stuffed animals to fill a king-sized bed, so many books they start to fall off the shelves, and plenty of dress-up clothes. Not to mention that my seven year old is just like me and keeps every single scrap of artwork she has ever made. And pamphlet, wristband, movie ticket, bookmark, Chuck E Cheese prize, and any other doo-dad that has ever come into her possession. And every surface in her room “displays” her prized possessions. Regular people call this “clutter.” So I decided to take it upon myself to rearrange her clutter so that I don’t feel like I will have an anxiety attack when I walk in her room. (If you saw my bedroom, you’d say I was a hypocrite, but to my defense, my room is where all the “stuff” gets transferred to when we clean up for company!)
Another part of the Behind the Scenes Mommy Maintenance is making the executive decisions for the family when we are not in agreement with the Mr. I tend to have difficulty with this because I consider myself a nice person who does not like to lie or cheat and it feels sneaky to go behind my husband’s back and do something we are not in agreement on (like changing the breakfast nook window treatments. Oh wait, there are none because he had a cow that I bought some curtains. That should be my next 1:00am project. I’m sure he’ll like them after he sees them. Or at least get used to them.) Our kids finally saw Santa Claus and asked for a robot dog and a car that Ellie can drive. I wasn’t super excited about those Power Wheels kid vehicles when the girls were little, but after watching them drive their friends’ little kid cars, the cuteness factor helps me see how much fun they are. So when I saw that Wal-Mart carries a VW Beetle kid car – OMG! I am a huge VW fan, so really it would be like getting a present for myself! So I stopped by Wal-Mart before lunch and got the cute dang car and hid it in the basement. (I mean Santa did all this!) And the hubs still doesn’t know, but in four days or so (like around December 19th ) when he asks me what we should get Ellie and doesn’t find anything interesting while shopping, Imma gonna let him know that is already done!
If you are like me, a Hector the Collector, and find it hard to throw away your child’s precious belongings (especially with traumatic “Patches” memories,) just remember that this is all part of the Behind the Scenes Mommy Maintenance. We weren’t aware of all the behind the scenes our moms did while we were little but this is the stuff that keeps our ships sailing! Next time I stop myself mid-maintenance-ing, I’ll try to remember my friend Lindsey who hides her son’s daily “treasured stick and leaf” collections two feet deep in the trash can in order to prevent any “Patches” type grief; maybe that will give me the drive to finally let go of the paper pirate headband hat that was made at school two years ago!