Some people equate their clutter with feeling surrounded by their memories. Clutter as a cosy cushion of familiarity. A safety-blanket. An extension of themselves even. For me the exact opposite is true. I feel distincly uncomfortable as the clutter starts to build up and threatens to overtake the sleek calmness of an uncluttered home. Clutter weighs me down. I used to cheer myself up by throwing things out or giving them away. There are many 'second homes' in Jerusalem and sometimes after visiting such an apartment, I am envious of the clean lines and feeling of space in even a smallish apartment. I have to remind myself that this is a holiday home - they don't actually live there with all their stuff.
Don't get me wrong, I am no modern minimalist. I love old furniture, comfy sofas, rugs, photographs in frames on the sideboard and a selection of ornaments. But I also love space and uncluttered surfaces and floors. Partly it is practical as an Aladin's cave cum Gypsy caravan effect is murder to keep dusted and clean. But it is also pshychological. I can't work until I've tidied up. I hate it that I have a pile of papers that gets shunted from surface to surface because it has no assigned home. It had a home once but that home is now filled with toys and puzzles. And therein lies the problem.
A friend once told me how you bring home a little tiny bundle of baby and a whole household's worth of equipment comes with it. Well over the past year and a half we have got rid of a lot of the equipment. The cot, the changer, the swinging chair, the activity playmat, the highchair, the baby bath, the baby carrier, the stacks of nappies... all of these are now obsolete and have been passed on to their next homes (except the nappies which stay in the shop). The toys, on the other hand, are everywhere.
I can actually tidy away the toys quite satisfactorally, but they don't stay tidied away. DD likes to play with them, and not unreasonably as they are her toys. I could describe it but it's easier if you just look at the picture (yes you have seen this shot before). After I cleared this particular mess up I went to do something in another room for five minutes. While I was gone DD had all the cushions from the sofa scattered around the floor. "What a mess!" I exclaimed. She looked at me as if I were a moron and explained, "No mess, building a house." So you see, it's a losing battle.
When I lived an uncluttered life, pre-motherhood, I had a very full social life. I entertained regularly, went out with friends, had subscriptions to an art-house cinema and a concert orchestra. I went for walks, ate in cafes, went away for the weekend, went on holidays. My life has shrunk over the past three years. I stay in after dark, I never entertain, the subscriptions have gone, holidays are not holidays, I eat supper at 5.30pm sitting on a footstool at the coffee-table. It's as if a curious osmosis has drawn clutter into my home to compenate for my lack of ... well... a life.
I hate clutter and I don't enjoy this chaos, however necessary. As I write this I can hear the clinking of glasses next door - my neighbour is hosting a dinner party. I don't wish I were there with them. I accept that my adult life is on hold for a bit while I concentrate on DDs needs. I enjoy going to the park and choosing a lolly on the way home, I like cheesey mashed potatoes for supper, and I love stories in bed at 7pm. I just wish we could do it all with less mess.
This post was written for the Friday Carnival at Notes from Home. Click on through for more posts about the cluttered or uncluttered home.