Clean House

In the last couple of weeks I have straight-up purged and organized the entire house. Every closet, shelf, cupboard, room, and drawer—no clutter left behind.

I have never cleaned out everything all at once, or so quickly, but this time I was a woman possessed, even obsessed, with order. It rubbed off on Dutch, to an extent. He agreed, under duress, to go through his side of the closet. “Didn’t that feel amazing?!” I shrieked. He shrugged while filling plastic bags of clothes to donate.

Our house has been a place of survival, particularly since Truman was born 4.5 years hence. Before that, I would call our home basically normal in its function and appearance. But then the shiz got real with four kids, two with special needs and one a premature baby.

My home became merely a place where we lived. It was purely functional. The beautiful parts went away, trashed by Code Browns and the manhandling destruction of autism. It was messy. Utilitarian. Busy. Stinky.

It wasn’t about aesthetics anymore, or even cleanliness. It was about willing myself through the laundry, poop, and screaming until bedtime and my oft-interrupted sleep. I’m not bringing this up to complain, but to illustrate our living conditions once the crap hit the fan and we were basically living in a metaphorical bunker, trying to stay alive.

This blog began during that time of upheaval, and in it I’ve written scores of times about the literal messiness of it all. Because it happened, and it was truly a thing, you guys. I know. It made me crazy.

But it also made me realize that things are only things and the state of one’s kitchen or master bathroom DOES NOT EVEN MATTER ONE BIT. It doesn’t.

I told a few people then that I felt God was teaching me that a perfectly clean house wasn’t as important to him as taking care of my children and collectively surviving these figurative war years, so to speak. Some responded, “But I can’t function in a messy house. It drives me crazy.”

I knew what they meant, because I felt the same way. Only clean surroundings and orderly days weren’t in the cards for me. Not for a long time. We were barely staying afloat. The house was the burning ship on which we sailed, as we frantically searched for landfall.

Things have evolved incrementally. Truman is bigger. Charlie isn’t a hot mess anymore and is incredibly helpful. Jack isn’t smashing things or smearing as much poop. We have helpers. We all sleep through the night. Everyone who needs it is receiving therapy and meds, and is a) stable and b) making progress.

All of these factors have lead up to this summerpalooza wherein I attacked and reordered ALL OF IT. And I’m not super attached to things anymore, so donating or chucking useless stuff was a breeze.

My favorite outcome of all this is that my grandma Lila’s quilts, which were folded in a closet for years, are now hanging all over the house. Everywhere. Junior, Jeff, and Henry helped me hang them and we all agreed: It looks so much better now. We have color and pattern and vibrancy on these walls.

It looks great. It makes me happy. But there is the very real possibility that without the last five years of suffering, I wouldn’t be capable of appreciating the relative calm. The complete gift of peace. The pure simplicity of order.


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