“You know, mom, I go to other people’s houses and they just don’t have character. But in our house, everywhere I look, I see character.”
“Well, sweetie darling child of mine,” I reply, “Those people have clean houses. What you are calling character most people refer to as clutter, disorder, or just keeping it real here, a mess.”
The best part about the previous conversation was that she wasn’t trying to get out of cleaning or doing chores. We were just eating dinner and she was looking around our home, as if noticing for the first time. And I will give her some credit—our clutter really does have character. Most of it is fine works of art that was made by the hands our family members or is a leaning tower of paperwork from school that I need to find the time to sort through. Some of it is simply a mess. But I have a good excuse.
Being raised in Ohio where we frequently use the heat and air conditioning in the same day and are well known for our cloudy, overcast skies, I am an absolute sucker for sunshine. If there’s even one little bit of it peeking through the clouds, I can’t bring myself to be inside. A dry day, even, is a good enough reason for me to look at my house full of character and think, “I’ll work on this when it rains” and head out.
But these past few weeks and months have been exceptionally beautiful and yes, I know that I am jinxing us all by putting it in writing. With the impending winter months of gray and cold slinking upon us, I have been downright neglectful of my housekeeping duties.
Living out of clothes baskets and opening the freezer hoping that something edible will magically appear is one thing, but somehow the kids and their schoolwork/toys/collections have creeped into every corner, in every direction. And until it rains or is at least cloudy and cold, I can’t justify being inside to clean it up. As a good Ohioan, I know that at any given moment the entire ground can turn to frozen mud and the Earth will spin on its axis in such a way that sunlight will avoid a fifteen county wide area for days.
So until the gray skies send me in to finally pout and dust off that dust, I’ll take my daughter’s advice and appreciate the character that makes us who we are. Those clean houses, with their bare walls and clear countertops and floors you can walk across without the deadly threat of a Lego? Until the windows are shut and the furnace kicks on, that’s simply out of character for the characters that we are.
Originally written 10.23.16