Tuesday, 12 February 2013
The lessons of a messy children's bedroom.
Once upon a time I lived on my own, in a tiny little flat in London, fairly happy, lots of friends and a good job. I always knew I wanted a family and then one day along came a man with whom I fell in love. So began the story of our family. Three children later, my days are quite different now. Each morning there are so many tasks to be done just to get us all out of the door on time for school. When I return from the school drop-off, it's just me and the littl'un. I have a coffee while I feed her, we then make our way around the house clearing up after the tornado that passed through at 7.30 that morning.
This is a picture of my two eldest girl's room. This is it on a good day, I really would be too embarrassed to show it on a really bad day when the carpet is no longer visible. When I come in to this room in the morning I feel utter despair. The beds are unmade, there are toys and books everywhere to be seen. Pyjamas, toothbrushes, hairbrushes strewn around from the morning rush. I straighten everything up, smooth out the duvets, put books back on the shelves, cuddly animals back in the basket. And I will do it all again tomorrow. I'm no martyr, it's just the reality of being a Mum. Doing the same things day after day, meals, laundry, cleaning, diplomatic relations and lots of picking stuff up off the floor.
I do realise, however, that this is just all part of the territory. My children love their toys, they play endlessly with these horses, barbies and baby dolls. They read those magazines and the books. They really inhabit this room and the rest of the house. Their physical presence is truly felt. When I come in to this room after I have left them at school for the day these objects lie inanimate, without the spirit and imagination of my daughters to animate them. I think I should try not to feel despair when I enter this room in future, but gratitude that they are here, my girls are here and they are happy, they are boisterous, they are filled with the joy of a childhood in which they get to play with their toys, flick through their magazines, making a mess as they do. This is not to say that I don't get cross with them when they do make a real mess, I do. There are often tears when I insist that they clean this mess up. In quieter moments though, I do enjoy discovering the little scenes they have set up with dolls, animals and wooden blocks. I do feel grateful that I have these girls in my life at all. That I am not still in that tiny little flat in London, on my own, wondering what it would be like to be a mother. This is what it is like. A messy house, a tired body, little free time; the price to be paid for having three beautiful children. There are lessons to be learned everywhere, even in a messy children's bedroom.