Since I moved out on my own, 20 years ago, I established and maintained certain principles about how I would live my life. One rule of order was order itself wherever I lived. I noticed that when my home was in order, my mind was in order. I noticed also, that I was more at home when I cared for my things. It had been relatively easy to maintain this way of life until I had kids. Two male children have upended my ordered home.

Though it is nearly impossible to maintain my previous standards, I expend so much energy trying that it could be seen as a fixation on order. I call it a fixation (with a nod to Freud as I play very loose with his terms, as is the fashion these days) because I am so attached to the way things used to be that it could be viewed as unhealthy.

Here's what happens when I think "I must lower my standards," I lose my way. When order is lost, which happens so very easily around here, sometimes in an instant, I crave a way of life. A certain quality of life. A peace of mind when I wake or arrive home that I am home and my things are where they should be.

I remained attached to a time when what I put down remained there until I came back to pick it up.

These days, when I place a ring on my dresser that I inherited from my great aunt, a five year old boy may take it and place it anywhere his imagination dictates it should be. This may be behind a planter or underneath a small table in the living room.

What is my life now, without peace of mind and order? Constant battle. I have the persistence of the truly deranged. As my little boys move through their day gleefully tossing things out of drawers and sheets off their bed in the name of play I follow and insist on order.

They are never bored with mess making and I am never going to surrender to it fully the way the parenting magazines say I should. We are at an impasse. We are all following our natural impulses. I console myself with the idea that one day they will both be busy doing things outside of the house and I can resume my tidy ways in peace.

The Other Kind of Messes

I Want to Fix That Mess Mr. Jonathan Ames

I Want to Fix That Mess Mr. Jonathan Ames