Chaos is everywhere.
I type this with a two-year-old on my lap, playing disc jockey with my iPhone while his older brother grumbles about hearing “Happy” for the millionth time as he pretends to read a book while semi-patiently waiting for me to finish my “work” so I can honor his request to play a game or turn on some child movie/television show.
They should be napping quietly in their messy little beds while I return a phone call or two, write a story that is due tomorrow, edit the story that I tried to write last night before succumbing to my own sleepiness.
There are dishes in the sink. Wet laundry from this morning is still sitting in the washing machine just a few feet away from me. Dinner will probably be spaghetti with sauce from a jar because I forgot to defrost the chicken.
I attempted to work out, but it was a quick sweat before the child care inconveniently closed at noon. We had attempted to arrive at the gym earlier but when it comes to getting dressed, in the car and out the door there always seems to be extra hurdles that take far longer than I could have imagined. Our quick stop at the preschool park district office to register for sports classes lasted more than an hour when the boys begged for just a quick visit to the nature room. They spent more than 45 minutes playing nicely with wooden blocks, coloring leaves and checking on every turtle and frog in sight.
My gym time was rushed, but then that turned out good as the contact I have been chasing for a week finally returned my call and I managed to interview her once I plied the boys with mozzarella sticks. Remember when the a boss tried to interrupt a phone call, that’s nothing compared to a hungry toddler screaming “cheese.”
The boys only interrupted a couple of times more asking (and receiving) frozen waffles for lunch. Sure, they ate the same thing for breakfast, but hey this time I also gave them a side of fruit once I wrapped up the call and their mozzarella appetizer rounded out the meal.
It’s not like I’m living in terrible, horrible, not going very well bad day. We’ve had those. This is just an ordinary day, with ordinary chaos. It’s life with two young people who fascinate me one minute and then and infuriate me about 10 minutes later, only to see them redeem themselves by playing nicely, helping each other or pretending to read together.
I know kids like routine. My husband likes routine and he’s good at it too. When he’s left in charge of the boys it amazes me what they can accomplish in a few short hours.
I realize a lot of the chaos is my own fault, my lack of routine. We have a routine, the one where I feed them, clean up after them, declare the kitchen is closed and within five minutes they are back in the pantry or fridge looking for more food until I feed them, clean up and repeat the process over and over again. This same pattern is how we play, clean up and then someone dumps a box of Duplo Legos back on the floor next to the library books I picked up an hour earlier.
I like to think I am flexible, as I bend the rules, letting lunchtime linger a bit longer, so I can answer an email, check Facebook, read a 350-word article from the Sunday newspaper at the corner of the table.
Soon enough there will be plenty of routine. My older son is destined for full-day kindergarten in a couple of months and the little one will start Pre-K. In a few years they will have school time, playtime and pre-dinner homework time. Then it won’t be long before sports fills in a gap or two as well.
I realize they will grow up and it will be a different kind of chaos that fills the house. Maybe that is why I don’t completely hate how my toddler wants to sit on my lap as I click clack on the laptop.
I just saw someone comment how in motherhood, the days are long but the years pass quickly. Amen to that I say.
One more deep breath, a few more taps at the keyboard and I’ll begin the chaos cleanup, change the laundry and try to pick up the house before boiling water for the spaghetti. Ever try to clean up a house with a pair of toddlers around…yup, it’s chaos.
Melissa Riske, a member of the DuPage Chapter of Mothers & More, is a mom to a pair of busy boys ages 4 and 2 and a former journalist who now writes from home, which means sometimes she has to bribe her children with popsicles so she can conduct a phone interview at her dining room table.