I admit I feel a bit of jealousy when I see some pictures. Pictures of people in homes who have children. And these children are reading or sitting quietly. And the space in huge. And clean and clutter free. No toys, glasses from a quick snack, books or personal paraphernalia that children carry with them and leave everywhere. And I know that some people(and me) clean up a bit before taking those lifestyle photos. No one wants to see our dirty laundry, our fingerprints, our mess of toys, or stacks of books, our inability to keep up with all of the things that our kids drag out each day.
And I wonder if I had a home with more space if there would be a room like that. A room free of clutter, museum-like where I could great guests and they could think our home is perfectly clean because of this clutter free room.
Or maybe I would have more space to make that happen and my kids would just bring all of their dolls and books into that room because that is where I was sitting. Just to be near. And would I clear it all away just to take a picture of them.
We don’t have a playroom or a den or a family room or a basement for the kids to play in. Their bedrooms are too small to hold many toys, but they work well for reading books and small dance parties. We live in a city house with one living space that also includes our dining room table for all five of us to share – and to also share with guests – and it’s quite full of things. Every toy they own, most every book they own, art supplies, magnets on our fireplace screen, movies, games, dolls, our piles of paperwork for work, school and bills, and a corner that is full of winter coats, mittens and hats. Our dining room table – in the center of our living area – is our only place to eat as well as our desks – for work, writing and homework.
This is where we live. This is where I see all of my children. This is where the big kids do homework while I serve dinner and Astrid plays with dolls. This is where we watch TV while Jed reads a book and Astrid colors. This is where we talk, play, live and compete in Just Dance 2014.
This is where all the things reside.
And sometimes I admit it drives me crazy. Would we be happier to have other places to be. A finished basement to send the kids? An office to work in? Bigger bedrooms to store the toys? A separate dining room that doesn’t become the central dumping ground in the house? Or would I be lonely with so many empty spaces and people not close? And would my photographs of my kids feel cold and too clean and empty without books stacked in the corners or the room? Why isn’t the dollhouse next to the couch anymore?
Our living spaces now are full of things shoved in corners – the books, toys and extra blankets. These corners mirror my heart and hold this clutter as the memories we are making as a family now together as we share this one space.
And I’m tired of trying to put all of the clutter away to make my pictures less about what I think people care about and see and more about what my kids are doing right now. Right here. As I come to appreciate the clutter in the corners.