the shirts and jackets
smothered the sofa
the dirty dishes and crumbs
the trash can
by hiding in plain sight.
When I was little, I was required to clean my room at least once a week. When I had hidden the last sock under my bed, I would call mama up to see. I was always disappointed when she used her x-ray vision, and declared, “Clean this mess up, and make it Mama Clean.” By college my housekeeping was more honest. Instead of hiding clothes under my bed, I piled them on every available surface. My room looked like a collision between a garbage truck and a department store. Then I got a job and a house of my own. My standards improved. I hid my dilapidated sofa under a pretty bedspread and artfully covered the stains on my Salvation Army rugs with hassocks. I rearranged furniture weekly and picked flowers to distract the eye from the stains on the table cloth.
By the time Justin and Scott entered my life, I was able to hire the prestigious decorators Tonka and Little Tike. They specialized in bright plastic toys. As the boys got older I used Nike and Converse for most of my floor treatments and Cabelas and Aeropostale did the slipcovers on my chairs. I even had specialists in large knick-knacks: Remington and Winchester.
Now that Justin has moved into his own house to fight his own dust wars, and Scott is away at college most of the year where everyone is having too much fun to worry about dust, I have discovered my inner neat freak. I find myself washing dishes before I go to bed and straightening the sofa pillows when I leave the room. For the first time in eighteen years, my Christmas decorating did not require bringing out the shovel and broom before I could bring out the tree and presents.
It’s now, four days after Christmas, and most of my friends have already put away their Christmas decorations. I’m not ready for that, yet. My house is full of clutter and it is evident that a child lives here again. I’ll make it Mama Clean next year. And then clean it each night before bed as I wait expectantly for the day that a child’s coat draped over a chair signifies that once again my house is full of all that really matters to a mother’s heart.