Most of the time I don’t like messes. When I had children in my house I tolerated them to a degree. It was okay to play and have a mess, but around 5:00pm things needed to get picked up in the living room and family room. I was less concerned about messes in bedrooms and sometimes those would go on for days and sometimes weeks. Then I would inform the offenders that they better take care of the mess or I would and then their things would disappear.

I often found myself invading a room armed with black trash bags that I would load up with things that I didn’t think would be missed. Then I’d haul them up to the attic. Then the child would ask where his/her stuff was, well actually this never happened to the girls or James. Actually, it only ever happened to Andrew and Alex. My response was always the same, “Tell me what you are missing and maybe I’ll get it for you.” They could never tell me what was missing. Sometimes, I’d clean up their mess and return some of the toys confiscated on my previous invasion.

One night, when I went to tuck Andrew and Alex in their entire floor was covered with “stuff.” I stopped at the door and informed them that they would have to come to the door for a good night kiss. I told them I could be injured trying to get to their bed. They were sad, but came to the door for a kiss. The next night they had put away enough of the mess that there was a little path to the bed. Over the week they gradually got the mess cleaned up.

They just didn’t seem to be able to figure out where to begin when they had a huge mess. I would sit on the bed and give them some direction…put all the books away, now pick up the dirty clothes, put the GI Joe guys in the container, pick up all the Legos…Sometimes I sent Kristina to give them the directions.

James’s room became quite a mess when he was getting ready to apply to universities. He had stacks of papers covering the floor. Me cleaning them up was less than helpful. He couldn’t find anything. His organization looked like a mess to me.

I also make messes and there have been times in my life when you could determine my level of stress by how deep the stuff in the bottom of my closet was. I do better when I have to share a closet with Rick and that has been the case for most of the last 15 years.

I am also a messy baker and cook. I don’t generally clean up as I go and when I am finished the kitchen looks like it has exploded. I do clean up after myself, though. The same is true of sewing. I make an incredible mess when I sew.

Mostly, my house now is devoid of messes and we only experience them periodically, when I cook or sew or the happy, wonderful messes grandchildren make when they visit.