I’ve been trying to smudge my house since my daughter was born. I am a firm believer that your space needs to be immaculate before undertaking the ritual of space clearing. I did not have time to do a thorough house cleaning while I was on maternity leave. Contrary to what some people believe, maternity leave is not a vacation, you don’t have much free time because babies are a lot of work.
My husband is a chemist so the house was always laboratory spotless but now that we have a baby the house is for the most part, a mess – clutter everywhere; a baby swing, a little gym, a jumperoo, a high chair, a bassinet that functions more as a hamper/toy chest because my daughter sleeps on the bed with us, all in the middle of the living room.
The house is not up to our pre-baby clean standards. Since being back at work, neither of us has the time to mop the floors on a weekly basis. The priorities are; staying on top of laundry, a clean kitchen, a clean bathroom and changing the sheets and towels twice a week.
Now, there’s the stack of mail on top of the dining room table that needs to be sorted into piles; junk mail, important mail; to be filed; to be paid. Once the bills get paid, they move to the’ to be filed’ or ‘to be shredded’ pile. I have a load of documents that needs to be shred. If you’ve had the misfortune of credit card fraud or identity theft, you too will have a mountain of paper in need of shredding because throwing out even one envelope with your name on it fills you with anxiety.
Every room in the house can use a few hours of deep organization. This is not something solvable with a cleaning lady. What I need is time to purge. To give away stuff, have a garage sale. The house needs the full Marie Kondo.
When my friend Teri moved to Chicago she gave us her new sectional sofa. Matt has always wanted a sectional, I think they take up too much space. This one is three big pieces that closes off the living room and blocks off the nonfunctional fireplace that I decorated with whimsical pieces; mermaids, angels, Dominican Jesus.
Since I was a teenager, my adult goal was to live in the Pottery Barn catalogue. When the sectional moved in, my PB sofa was temporarily moved to the garage. Matt wanted the sectional in the living room instead of the back room that is supposed to be the family room. After four years in the house, the family room only gets used as a gateway to the back yard.
This need for an immaculate house is not about keeping up with the Joneses or para que la gente no diga. We rarely have people over. We live in Long Beach, a good 20-40 miles away from most of our friends in Los Angeles and my sister in the San Fernando Valley. Other than the obligatory Noche Buena party we don’t have many guests over.
My clean and clutter free house is for me to enjoy. It has to do with me being a control freak and also being one of four kids who never had her own room. A clean house that when my filmmaker friends come over and ask “can I shoot here?” makes me feel good. As a filmmaker, I know what a crew does to a house while they are shooting, my answer is always no.
The house used to be under my control because I had time to dedicate to it. I work forty five hours a week and spend about two hours a day commuting. Now, when I get home, my time is for my daughter.
I would love some flexibility at work. Like two days where I work four or five hours instead of nine. I’d be happy with a half day once a week or even every other week.
It is my controlling nature that makes me great at my day job. I’m an Executive Assistant to Masters of the Universe. I get paid very well to keep them organized and on schedule, it’s not something that can be done part time or half assed. I love my job, I love being in control but I would also love a little time to keep myself organized and on schedule.
The clutter is seeping into my relationship with my sister. I should be better about getting together, by the time the weekend rolls around the last thing I want to do is drive thirty plus miles to visit her. We made a date to meet at LACMA, the LA County Museum of Art. We were going to celebrate Matt’s and Ayden’s birthdays. Ayden, our Goddaughter was turning two. I stood my sister and her kids up! What kind of person stands up their two and four year old nieces! The girls were looking forward to seeing Hudson and to give Matt a present they had made for him. I slept right through the date, did not wake up until 11:00am and completely forgot to meet them. I was so ashamed and disgusted with myself, I spent the week beating myself up about it.
I have to make some changes.
I will start with writing. As of now, I can dedicate my lunch time to putting together these weekly essays. I want to find two hours to work on my memoir on weekends because Matt is there to help. There’s always something to do at home. A few weekends ago, I organized my daughter’s clothes that no longer fit her; I gave a lot away and stored what I want to keep for her. I sorted the clothes into two vacuum sealed bags; from new born to three months and from three months to six months. There went six hours of writing but now, I don’t have a giant bin full of baby clothes in the family room.
I can’t blame the not writing totally on the messy house. I have a flash drive with all the writing I’ve done in the last three years. It was not a functional system. The work was categorized by workshop date so I had about twenty folders with four to eight pieces of writing.
I spent two hours today reorganizing my work. I created four folders in a new flash drive; Young Adult Memoir, Fertility/Trying to get Pregnant, Current Memoir, and Flash Pieces. I labeled each story by name and added what chapter I can find it in my memoir in progress. I also backed everything up into the cloud. The new system will make it easier to finish the second draft.
The essays on this blog are shitty first drafts at best. This is week four. I will continue to make time for this writing challenge of #52Essays2017. Now that I’m back at work I am not able to take the weekly writing workshops so I need to stay accountable and generate work. I used to think that I didn’t have enough words in me to dedicate to weekly writing and to my memoir. Now that I don’t have time, I realize I have so much to say, so much I want to share. Little by little I will get there.
My daughter has already outgrown the swing and her baby gym. Those are now in the family room waiting to be stored in the garage in case one of the three frozen embryos turns into baby number two. Now, in the middle of the living room there’s a giant mat made of interlocking foam blocks with the letters of the alphabet in each block. There is a baby fence around the mat so Hudson has room to crawl without hurting herself. At least Matt mopped the floor before he laid down the foam. I’m not going to be hard on myself about the baby stuff all over the house. I wanted this baby more than I’ve wanted anything in my whole life. I need to get used to the extra stuff that comes with that. I’m giving myself another two weeks, regardless of the state of the house, I will open up my windows, burn some sage and palo santo and invite new energy in and kick the old energy out.