I’ve been on a domestic binge of sorts this week. I’ve been trying new recipes and actually cleaning my house. Wait. That sounds worse than it should. I do cook for my family and clean my house. I’m simply not June Cleaver. Life is too short to waste it cleaning. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not as if we live in squalor. Most people who come here would report that the house is mostly picked up and neat. I clean bathrooms and the kitchen. Dishes are done several times a day. I vacuum regularly. Dusting I do less often because I despise it, but I still do it. What I don’t do on a regular basis is pick up in areas that are not my problem. This means the basement, which is merely a huge Lego storage room with a small area carved out for Wii and Xbox matches, and the boys’ rooms don’t get much attention from me. You know that old saying that cleaning the house while the kids still live there is like shoveling snow in a blizzard? I subscribe to that school of thought. I just close the doors, and it’s out-of-sight-out-of-mind for me. Let the snow pile up.
While looking for something in Luke’s room earlier in the week, though, I had to come to terms with the fact that it was time for an intervention. When a single shoe goes missing from a pair that was worn this very day, it’s time to take action. So, for the past two days, I’ve been gathering and redistributing Legos, locating missing glassware from the kitchen, and throwing out broken toys. Yesterday I attacked the basement. Today I cleaned the boys’ homework room and their bedroom. In Luke’s bunk, I found three books, a couple Lego magazines, an entire set of clothing (jeans, two t-shirts, underwear, and a pair of socks), assorted Lego pieces, and about 15 stuffed animals. Luke’s bed also had seven (yes, seven) blankets on it. Luke sleeps like a rat in its nest, curled into a little ball amongst things he has gathered.
As I was moving items and returning them to their rightful places, I kept discovering things long since lost…Joe’s rubber fish that he got out of the prize box at the dentist’s office when he was 2 and has treasured ever since, a ribbon from Joe’s entry in the regional science fair, and a couple stuffed animals previously owned by my grandmother. While stacking things neatly into a closet, on a top shelf I discovered a camcorder box for the old video camera we used when the boys were young. I pulled it down out of curiosity and lo-and-behold there were about 10 recorded video cassettes. Eureka!
I wanted to watch the videos so badly but the recorder was out of batteries and the charger was also missing in the chaos of our haphazardly organized home. I spent about an hour rummaging through every power cord hiding space to no avail. (As I was doing this, it occurred to me that we have at least twice the amount of crap we actually need or use. It’s not quite an episode of Hoarders…yet. There’s a whole other blog in there, I’m sure, if I could just dig through enough junk to find it.) I finally gave up for a while and then I remembered where it might be. I ran to my office, which is also a room with a regularly closed door, and there it was under the Christmas wrap that I still haven’t put away.
So, tonight after dinner, we sat and watched the videos as a family. The boys’ first few years are on those tapes. Birthdays and Christmases, Joe’s first trip to the beach, our trip to Alaska, Joe’s first time crawling, and Luke’s first smiles…all captured and now waiting to become digital media. There we found our beloved dogs, Buddy and Machiah, who now wait for us on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge. There is a snippet of video of my grandmother holding an infant Luke, a precious moment I was so grateful to relive and that made Luke tear up. And, even as sobering as it was to hear my youngest tell me repeatedly how young I look in the videos, I loved every minute we spent tonight showing our boys their infant and toddler selves, creating a new memory of the time Mom found all the videos.
It got me to thinking about the transitory nature of life on Earth and how time truly does fly. Our sons are growing up too quickly. We originally put the video camera down so we would spend more time living in the moment than watching it on a tiny screen. I don’t regret that decision, but it wouldn’t hurt for us to record a few memories of our family these days for posterity. Watching your life backwards on video certainly opens up some perspective. But, the greatest lesson I took away from today is that it might be a good idea for me to clean the house more often. If it’s true that cleanliness is next to godliness, I may be screwed.