My in-laws will be here in a few hours. I never know exactly when they will arrive; they usually call when they are 30 minutes or so from my house. They are coming to celebrate Thanksgiving with us, as well as our oldest daughter's 8th birthday. When I say "my in-laws," I mean my mom-in-law, my husband's brother, and his wife.
They are kind people who love my children and make few demands as guests. I will enjoy their visit, and I will be sorry to see them go. But right now, I am at the difficult part of a visit: the hours before they arrive. During this time, I want to get my house clean, even though I know I can't. There is too much. I tried to have more realistic goals this time: I would merely make sure that the stacks of things we are giving to Goodwill actually make it to Goodwill before they come.
Nope. The stacks are still there. The time of day that Goodwill accepts donations are times when I have my children with me, and I would rather give birth again than listen to them scream and cry or beg to help me or run outside the door and away as I carry box after box to the van. Goodwill errands with children are even worse than post office errands with children.
So I am anxious and feeling like a failure. Which I probably shouldn't, because I have actually accomplished a lot this month. This year I have been determined to simplify our lives in the house, and I have cleaned out all the upstairs closets (hence the Goodwill stacks). I want to have a home where an emergency does not send me into a housekeeping tailspin. I want to stop feeling like I am almost drowning.
So my bedroom is the cleanest it has been in years. The upstairs closets have some shelves that are BARE. Currently I am in the kitchen, where I have given the coffeemakers their semi-annual thorough scouring and put them in storage for the week (we will use the party 40-cup coffeemaker while family visits, and it is still spankin' clean from last time I put it away). The bar stools that always have piles of stuff on them are, in fact, clean. I am sitting on one right now.
But the children have already demolished the living room that was clean two days ago. And I look around and I wonder - where do other people put their junk? I walk into houses that don't have cannisters of pencils and rubber bands on the little shelf under the light switch. Where do they keep them? What do you do with the stacks of papers that you can't throw out but have no immediate use for?
I have worked harder at housekeeping in the last month than I ever have in my life, and you would never know it by looking around my house.