Sunday, February 17, 2013

A Lesson in Priorities

For awhile now, Connor's bedroom has been quite a mess. Chris and I have been saying for months that we have to get in there and do a big cleaning and really get things organized. A few times we've started and made a ton of progress, but we always get sidetracked and it never gets done. You might think we should just send Connor up there and tell him not to come out until it's finished. But the thing is, the room hasn't had an overhaul since we moved in, so we're talking about a bedroom full of outgrown toys. Plus a closet full of stuff I've been telling him to shove in there anytime I don't know where else to tell him to put something. ("Ummm....just put it in your closet for now." As if for now had any real meaning at all.) What I'm trying to convey is that this was way more of a mess than a 9-year old boy would know what to do with on his own. I'm not totally taking the blame or responsibility off of him, because he certainly didn't help, but...I admit, it wasn't all his fault.

I'm full of excellent excuses, trust me. Most of them are even perfectly valid. And getting sidetracked is a piece of cake in this family because there is always a million things that need to be done right this minute. Things like homework, meals, laundry, dishes, errands, and work take precedence. And calls, email, vacuuming, volunteer work, and quality family time are waiting in the wings to swoop in anytime there is a spare minute. This means that big, time consuming jobs, like cleaning a very messy bedroom, tend to fall to the bottom of the list.


Last night. Connor was complaining about an upset tummy. So I sent him to bed with a bowl and prayed that he would use it if need be. After a frenetically busy couple of days, I was exhausted and was in bed before midnight (crazy!). Only to be woken up a couple hours later by a commotion. Connor had woken up and been sick. He came down to tell us, assuring Chris that he made it into the bowl. Chris went upstairs to check out the situation, and found that while, yes, he did make it into the bowl, he also made it onto a good portion of his bedroom. Let me just tell you, in case you were wondering, that you haven't lived until you've cleaned puke off of Legos. Especially at 1:30 in the morning, after being yanked out of a sound sleep.

I believe in wake up calls and serendipity and all that. And if Connor puking all over the Legos on his bedroom floor was not a call to action, I don't know what is. I'm very sorry he had to get sick for the Universe to intervene with its loud and clear message, but I can recognize a silver lining when I see one. Sometimes. Well, in this instance, at least.

Universe? If you're listening, you'll be happy to know that there are no more Legos on Connor's bedroom floor. That's because Chris and I spent a large portion of the day cleaning the heck out of Connor's bedroom. And, guess what? It's still not done. But it is more done than it has been in a long time. Let me break it down a little. Cleaning Connor's room has thus far yielded:
  • Approximately two loads worth of dirty laundry, NOT including barf bedding.
  • Two garbage bags full of clothes and other miscellaneous items to be donated to Salvation Army.
  • Three large shopping bags full of clothes to be handed down to my godson.
  • Two really big boxes completely overflowing with old toys, plus two smaller boxes.
  • Three garbage bags full of trash.
  • A large pile of (now) broken down empty Lego boxes to be recycled. Why the HELL were we saving these?
I'd estimate that we're about 75-80% done. Most of what is left is the annoying stuff, like figuring out what to do with the billion little things that have no real home (erasers, bookmarks, random little toys, and other inexplicably treasured objects) and going through the overflowing book shelf. I even cleaned out most of the closet. Even though it's not done (The kids had to go to bed = perfectly valid excuse!), I'm so pleased with the progress that we made today.

We got the message, alright. Connor's room needed to be cleaned. We need to stay more on top of things. We need to make an effort to be more organized. We need to get rid of things we no longer have a use for.

And we don't need so much stuff!

To me, this is the most important part of the message. I want my kids to live their lives focusing on what they can DO rather than what material things they can HAVE. DOING is better than HAVING. DOING feeds your soul in a way that HAVING cannot. There are many factors at play, contributing to my kids having too much stuff. Factors going back to my childhood, and probably Chris's too. Being the only grandchildren. Modern societal norms. Hoarding tendencies. You name it. Madonna sang about living in a material world almost 30 years ago. If anything, materialism has been exacerbated since then. What did anyone know about material possessions before we had the internet to show us, in extraordinary detail, all the fabulous things available to us, and to let us know (via the wonders of social media) how much stuff everyone else has? But that doesn't mean I want my family to live as slaves to things.

As much as I enjoy (and would prefer to keep around) many of our things, I'll take DOING over HAVING any day. Does that mean I'm ready to give up my dishwasher in favor of washing by hand? By all means, absolutely not! But I'd rather Connor had far fewer things, and more space in his bedroom with which to play with and use what he does have. I'd rather have less things and more experiences. Thank you, Universe, for the reminder. This is an ongoing lesson in my life, and one of these days it's going to stick.

1 comment:

Sarah Park said...

Organizing priorities is very important to get things done orderly. Proper management should also come together with setting the priorities.