Dear UPS Guy:
So…my apartment is a total mess. I know it. You know it. We don’t talk about it, and that’s fine. But today, well, I feel like we need to address it. I’m sure you’re going to say that you’ve seen it all, but really, this may have taken the proverbial cake, don’t you think?
Here’s the thing: I live in New York City, land of the tiny apartments, and even though my space is small, my child makes the same mess as any child in the suburbs. Maybe more. He’s quite talented that way.
Part of the problem is that our front door opens right onto our dining area and living room, both of which double as a play room during the day. (Yay for open floor plans?) The other part of the problem is that I’m not a cleaner. Now, you may have figured that out by now, but I do know how to pull it together—er, shove the mess in a closet—when people are coming over.
But when you ring my doorbell at 1 p.m. on a Friday afternoon, you’re not even giving me a chance. I swear that it didn’t look this way at 7 a.m. and won’t look quite this bad at 9 p.m. And we were doing fun, creative stuff all morning—really! There’s discernible proof in this area that looks like a tornado spiraled through it. You just have to know where and how to look.
What You Saw: Clumpy gazpacho in bowls on the floor
What It Was: A make-your-own dinosaur craft that we were working on when you walked in. (And yes, things had gotten messier than in the picture below and had moved to the floor by the time you saw them.) We were supposed to lightly wet these biodegradable styrofoam packing peanut–type things and mush them together to make a brachiosaurus. But my son is 2, and he dumped everything into a bowl of water. Change of plans! Pea soup that looked like something the girl in The Exorcist spit up, which we then decided to feed to Lady and the Tramp. To further hone his fine motor skills, he then spooned green goop from bowl to bowl. See? Perfectly reasonable explanation.
What You Saw: A big blue cushiony thing shoved against the couch
What It Was: An upside-down kiddie chair. You know, one of those really cute, comfy ones from Pottery Barn? Right, well, since it was chilly, we’d spent most of the morning inside, so he decided to bring the playground to us with a makeshift (only slightly dangerous) slide. Don’t you think it was clever how he realized that he could repurpose the chair? Yeah, me, too!
What You Saw: Kitchen chairs in the living room, sheets on the floor
What It Was: Imaginative play with forts and castles and dragons! Do you know the book King Jack and the Dragon or the show Mike the Knight? Big hits with the 2-year-old set.
What You Saw: Layers of dried, cracked paint covering my white wooden chairs
What It Was: Dried, cracked paint…but from a really fun fingerpainting project with easily washable paint. Which, did I mention, is great for a child’s sensory development? He’s not afraid to get messy, this boy of mine, and he loved mixing the colors together to make (the most putrid) rainbow of colors. For one painting, I think he even made something that looks like an actual something. Do you see the dragon? No? Look again.
What You Saw: A basket full of unfolded laundry
What It Was: OK, yes, it was a basket full of unfolded laundry. But the toddler loves to help me with household tasks like this, and we had just brought it up from the basement! I swear it hadn’t been sitting there unfolded since 11 p.m. last night. Not swearing on my son’s life or anything, but swearing to you all the same.
What You Saw: Dirt, colored paint and dismembered candy bunnies on the kitchen island
What It Was: The remnants of Easter cupcakes. Chocolate: Yum. Frosting and coconut flakes dyed with green food coloring: Yum. Peeps: Half-eaten, but double yum. We made these adorable peeking-bunny cupcakes to celebrate the holiday. You just try to contain a 2-year-old (and his mom) around homemade baked goods.
What You Saw: Legos, toy dinosaurs and plastic zoo animals everywhere
What It Was: OK, fine. He really likes to dump out his filled-to-the-brim baskets, and it’s a freaking mess in here.
So, there you have it. It was bad, I admit, but I had good explanations for every bit of that mess. Well, most of it.
The truth is, I’m tired, I work during his nap time, and my 2-year-old—despite loving the vacuum and “The Cleanup Song”—is even messier than I am. Some days, it just doesn’t feel worth the effort to clean up after each and every activity, and to be perfectly honest, even though I know it’s important to teach my son good habits, sometimes I don’t want to waste our precious time together doing it. So the mess can wait till after he goes to bed. (And Daddy is home to help.)
But hey, Mr. UPS Man, if you want to put down those boxes and pitch in, feel free!
The Messy Mom Upstairs