I like things tidy and neat but I’m not an immaculate housekeeper. The children might argue that point. They think I am a slave driver. These boys would insist that I am forever barking out such horrendous orders as “don’t leave dirty dishes under the bed” and “pick your underwear up off the floor”. And sweet John NEVER thinks the house looks bad! He has dirt-immune eyesight. Seriously, in 19 years he has never said “Whoa. what did you do today? looks like a train crashed through our living room.” and there were quite a few toddler years where he could’ve said it!

We’ve developed a weird tradition. It seems every few months, on a Saturday, I will look around at our humble abode and get totally overwhelmed. Sudden swells of exaggerated, panicky emotion rise up within me at the “huge mess” and when I groan that classic line “Ugh. This place is a pig sty!” John is always shocked “What? It’s fine!” But, out of love for me, he will rouse up the boys (which involves unplugging the Wii) and they will then shuffle into the kitchen like condemned prisoners, hanging their heads and grudgingly taking the Windex and orders I hand out. An hour later the house is shiny and I tell John “Huh. I guess it wasn’t as bad as it seemed.” and he will grin and say “It never is! Glad you feel better.” So I know that if I wasn’t here it would become evident very quickly. The males here would live about 5 months before suffocating under a pile of dirty socks and empty Cheetos bags. I carry this burden heavily, knowing it is only my love for vacuuming and clean counters that is holding back salmonella and sure destruction.

It’s April. And I’m willing to take my chances.
In spring, I focus only on getting the kids to swallow their daily vitamin. Those little immune systems are going to need all the help they can get. Because, while I like a clean house? I love gardening.

And after just a few weeks of Spring, we have some serious PILES.
of dishes in the sink.
of laundry on the table.
of unswept floors and dust bunnies in every corner.
Cobwebs accumulating and something sticky all over the fridge, but I don’t care.

I really only notice occasionally, while coming in for ice water or fresh gloves or that quick glance around, right before falling into bed, exhausted and aching.
Because, if its not raining buckets, I am outside, working on these piles:

10 yards of 3/4 minus gravel was dumped here, and now I’m on the chain gang, spreading gravel on driveway potholes and building sturdy, weed-free paths in the vegetable garden…

I’m filling the raised beds with 3 yards of fresh soil and compost that was dumped right by the gravel and I am flitting about planting seeds, starts, divided perennials… I’m cleaning up 9 months of accumulated dog-mess. Lucy has been moved out to the pasture and we’ve reclaimed our backyard from her tyranny. I spent hours picking up all the remnants of her teething months. Goodbye to all of our landscape lights, every bit of drip irrigation, the BBQ tools. She even pulled down and chewed up a wooden rose trellis! All of this plastic carnage, and a years worth of untrimmed perennials, goes in the dump trailer. Yes-another pile:Grandpa and Josiah emptied it out yesterday, so I can start filling it again. (Thanks again, Lee!)The other pile is of the pampas grass trimmings (And you know as I chopped it off I glowered at its sharp blades “Ha! Not so pompous now, eh?!” I crack me up.)

In true slave driver fashion, I “encouraged” the younger boys to haul the trimmings over to the other pile, the burn pile. I feel I am building a strong work ethic in my sons, and that they will only benefit in life from rising to the challenge of a big job. Can you tell by Caleb’s expression that he feels differently about that?
So they hauled the loads of dry grass over to this area, leaving streams of discarded grass in a long trail…

The branches here are from the plum tree John pruned last Summer. You might wonder why he would leave such a big, unsightly pile right in plain view for almost a year, when a 1/2 gallon of gas and 2 hours would tidy things up so nicely? I assure you it isn’t proof the man is lazy, it is fine evidence of his being an indulgent, understanding Daddy. The kind of Dad who will let his sons pull his neat pile of brush all out into a long barricade of branches. Sam was so thrilled to have a real World War 2 trench, and led the imaginative charge, showing his brothers just where to tuck all the various Nerf guns. They spent days digging a trench to lay in, and arguing over whose turn it was to be the hateful German enemy. They took out snacks and filled canteens, and spent sunny hours defending the northern half of our yard, gripping the BB gun and praying-wishing-hoping for an unsuspecting deer to wander by. Lots of good memories made in an old burn pile. Now Sam isn’t disappointed that it is time to burn it all, because his Grandpa has elaborate plans for building a real tree fort, right there.
So Spring has sprung, and I am some type of masochist, reveling in fresh callouses and enjoying that good achy back feeling as proof of progress, being made. I have only the slightest twinge of guilt over my close-to-dangerously-filthy home and state all this to warn you. If you come visit in March-April or May?

I live in the garden, and just sleep in the house.

About sparrowjourney

Christian homeschooling mom to three boys, married to my best friend, John, for over 20 years. I love gardening without gloves, learning history with my kids, cooking with lots of butter, serving others, great books, rich coffee, studying the Bible, camping outdoors, scrapbooking, vintage home decor, the smell of rain and cut grass, authentic people, poetry, laughing until your sides hurt, and babies. oh and black licorice is pretty awesome.
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