There are moments when the machinery that runs our daily routine clicks along quite beautifully. We can hear the gears neatly falling into place, and the rhythm is flawless, seamless, steady. Everyone seems to be following the same choreography; we lean and step and turn and twirl to the same exact song, all of us having determined that this dance is one we know well and performing it to perfection.
Then there are the OTHER moments…
To see us getting ready for the day’s events this morning you would think we are a well-oiled machine. J had his breakfast, his med, and scooted upstairs in the most cooperative of moods. His clothes were readied, his ablutions were completed and, miraculously enough, the same rhythm of readiness was taking place in the room where my husband was preparing for work. We managed to get lunches and snacks prepared, everyone had what they needed without having to scurry back and forth searching for it. Even the dishwasher was emptied and the dishes and flatware sorted before the garage door closed as I waved goodbye with a benevolent look on my face.
Rewind, please, to two nights ago at around 10:20 P.M. The kitchen is still looking like something exploded in the middle of it even though we had dinner at seven. J is crankily going up and down the stairs still gathering boxing gloves, searching for his green cargo pants (they’ve been sitting in a laundry basket waiting to be sorted and hung,) TGG is frantically searching for the keys he always swears were “RIGHT HERE!” and not finding them, my husband is retreating towards the hallway closet to find a jacket and asking if he left his wallet on the counter or the bedside table, and I am standing in the kitchen wondering how things got so…normal.
I could tell you that my efforts at organizing and keeping things moving at a healthy clip result in some sort of cohesion, but they don’t. I feel fortunate, nay, BLESSED when not one curse word is muttered as people set out to greet their daily occupations. In fact, I feel blessed when one of those people who don’t mutter is ME.
I go about my work at home with Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries playing in my head. The desired effect at the end of the day would be closer to the First Movement of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 (Pastorale.) What I usually end up with is Tom and Jerry’s The Cat Concerto with Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2. OK, I’ll admit that there are days -and these are, thankfully, tremendously infrequent- when it’s more like The Ramones’ I Wanna Be Sedated.
I try to be organized. (“Try” being the operative word there.) For the most part, I succeed. I have allotted a space for everything in this house, and it works beautifully…but the human factor, of course, interferes every time. I am not complaining. I am stating facts. I would like to lead a more organized existence, but we are people and people are (even at their most organized) inclined to messiness. J is punctilious about certain things, but he can also be rather scattered (hence the search for the green cargo pants.)
We are that family that prides itself in having taken J’s need for order and attention to detail and applied to the way we handle our household. There hasn’t been a toilet paper shortage in a while; we always have extra toothpaste, shampoo, soap, and other toiletries people tend to take for granted. We have a spot by the door where keys are hung (mostly MY keys, of course) and places designated for shoes that only find their way there during my Wagnerian moments.
We have weekly menus posted in the kitchen, and the grocery list is constructed based on these. We have the freezer divided in areas for poultry, beef, pork and fish…and things still get interspersed and mislaid and misplaced. We have cooked pork because we thought it was boneless, skinless chicken and vice versa. We have put salt in the coffee because J poured salt in the sugar bowl. We have an abundance of toilet paper, that doesn’t mean we don’t get the occasional “CAN YOU BRING ME A ROLL OF PAPER????? I DIDN’T REALIZE THERE WASN’T ANY!!!!!” The bills get tacked on a bulletin board, but I have to constantly weed out the things that the children (or not…my husband does it, too) tack on top of those.
That is why the lovely Boccherini’s Minuetto mornings are so special to me. I compare them to those mornings when, before the construction workers arrive with their noise and their machinery, all sorts of birds skip and hop along the lawn as I drink that most necessary second-cup of coffee. I stand wrapped in a shawl, cup and saucer in hand, and I watch the Sun slowly crawl up the sky, the leaves appearing timidly at first and then more boldly on the previously naked branches of trees far and near, and I smile. The coffee is perfect. The shawl is cozy enough. The birds are happy; the lawn and the trees are getting greener with each passing day…
BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! WHIRRRRR! CRANK! CREAK! SCREEEEE! CA-CHUNK! CA-CHUNK! GRATE GRATE GRATE!
Reality scurries in and wraps itself around my feet. Until that moment the kitchen seemed clean, the house smelled fresh, the phone hadn’t rung…and my family had faded into the background for a moment. I wasn’t thinking of bills to pay, pants to mend, socks to throw out because the whole foot goes through the sole. No one has athlete’s foot, pending dental appointments, acne, broken nails, the wrong kind of meat for tonight’s meal. No one can’t find their keys, has lost a piece of paper they really needed, forgot to make an important call or refuses to wear a pair of pants because it isn‘t a pair of green cargo pants. Everything was perfect and lovely and organized.
Nah…I’d rather have it messy…bring on The Ramones, please.