Probably an unexpected title coming so soon after the choirs of angels and mommy pride over Isaac’s reading. I take it back. Reading is bad. Very, very bad. It can devastate a life. Or at least a house. Specifically, my house. Man oh man.
There I was. Really getting a handle on my entire house. The laundry was under control (remember?), the bathrooms got done with enough regularity that we didn’t have to worry (too much) about disease, dusted once in a while, heck, I even washed the floor now and then. For the previous year we had someone come in and clean for an hour and a half every other week, mainly to force us to straighten that frequently (no more so) and limit the disease quotient. But I had reached a point where I had a handle on it. No more cleaning lady. Just me. And my team of little helpers. Now, it would never pass my mother’s inspection–a completely emptied, hermetically sealed, freshly painted and floored room would not pass my mother’s inspection–but it was a level of mess I was comfortable with. I had a friend visit back in October and there really was little to none of the usual scurrying beforehand, such was the general condition of our home.
And then. Then came the month from Thanksgiving to Christmas. Now, some may think it’s because of the hollidays, the extra busyness. But some’d be wrong. Good grief. I did all my shopping in one afternoon, all the wrapping that evening and all my decorating in three hours the day before. We’re very low-key around here.
No. It wasn’t the hollidays. It was those things. Those little piles of processed tree pulp bound together and printed with words. Words upon words upon words. Glorious, beautiful words. Words strung together to form thoughts. Thoughts and ideas and thinkings galore. . . .
Prior to November I had been on a streak of very limited reading. I was writing regularly, I had ambitions for writing more formally. Then my computer betrayed me and stopped working and in its absence I picked up one of those old fashioned devices by name of boooook. book. And that was the beginning of the end. One thing led to another and I could. not. stop. One chapter for just this couple of minutes turned into two chapters and into entire books in a day and a half. And I am not a fast reader. Oh. I’ll just read for fifteen minutes turned into Oh, I’m sitting down for eight seconds, I can squeeze in a couple of sentences. Ahhh, the kids won’t really be hurt by three hours of TV, I must. finish. this book!!! Read read read. Read while I’m eating, read instead of sleeping, read while I’m nursing, read while I’m watching TV, read while the kids are drawing, read while I’m cooking, read while I’m brushing my teeth. Read read read. Read read. Read.
So I read. Several thousand pages between Thanksgiving and Christmas. And I woke up on Christmas morning opening my eyes to the fact that my house had crumbled down around me. Toys everywhere. Paper, markers, crayons, crumbs, dust, junk junk junk. Everywhere. And the laundry. The laundry. Ohhh the shame. After my 4000 words on conquering laundry I am too ashamed to describe the state of the laundry at Christmastime. Apparently I was wrong in thinking I never really did any housekeeping and that’s why my house was never as neat as my mom’s. No. Now I’ve seen the result of my doing absolutely no housekeeping and it’s a whole ‘nother realm of mess, the likes of which civilized society has never seen. In fact, I think we no longer qualify as part of civilized society.
So. I blame the books. And now I have stopped reading. Well. Kind of. Mostly. Um. Except that I finished a book today. But I started it several days ago and it was A Swiftly Turning Planet, a kids’ book, so it doesn’t count. Right? right? All these books keep staring at me, taunting me. And my dear, dear friend sent a Christmas package to my kids and what did she include in the box? More books for me to read. Bad. Very bad.
Still, I have made progress. I have begun to dig us out again. The laundry is nearly under control again. Isaac and Hannah’s room is neat and tidy. Ruth’s room is a 30-second pick-up away from perfectly neat and tidy. Both rooms have been dusted and vacuumed/mopped within the last week. We can all eat at the dining room table at the same time. The kitchen is almost show-room ready. Close enough, anyway. And as of this morning, the living room has returned to looking simply like three small kids live here. As opposed to looking like you could easily lose three small kids in the piles of junk, or that perhaps there are three small children lost in there somewhere. Progress. Slow progress. Now. If I could just keep those books on the shelves–and maybe even dust them–perhaps . . . perhaps I could invite those Mormons in again.