There’s a house in our neighborhood that always has toys strewn in the front yard. The kids have torn up a piece of the lawn to create a sand pit, and there are numerous miniature bulldozers, dump trucks, and other assorted construction vehicles tossed in. Some people call it an eyesore; I call it charming. The clutter says, "This is a home with a family."
I smile when I head toward my own house and see a plastic dinosaur amongst my husband’s meticulously groomed flowers. I decide not to pick it up. It tells the world that children live here, and I love it. Inside, toys litter the floor and the tabletops. My husband comes home and wants to know why they’re not picked up. The children should only play with one thing at a time, he says. Hmmm, I suppose, I mutter. But I don’t really agree. To him, the house is messy; to me, it’s a sign of wondrous play.
I guess I have the hindsight that comes with experience. My two oldest boys are now teenagers, and they grew up so fast. Having raised them as a single mom during their early years, I sometimes had less time than I wished just to relax and play with them. Power Rangers, Pokemon cards and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles used to cover the carpet . . . and then, one day, seemingly overnight, they were gone. No longer are my boys perfectly happy with anything "dinosaur" for their birthdays. All they want is cash and video games. I miss "Barney" and "Blue’s Clues."
Now that I have three-year-old boys again, I’m going to enjoy the "kid clutter" while I can. I laugh when I discover a plastic car in my underwear drawer, and I don’t mind a bit when I find my socks on a teddy bear. (Okay, I admit I got a little upset when I discovered one of my pearl earrings missing!) But I tell my husband that, one day, he’s going to miss the toys on the floor and the mess in our rooms. I know I’ll cherish these memories. Sure, it will be nice someday to actually be able to keep my house clean for an extended period of time, but for now, I’m embracing the clutter as only a parent can.