Wednesday, January 02, 2008

fighting entropy

I've discovered that the reason I feel rushed all the time is because I am. There is always something to do. But I'm always behind.

I'm recovering from the holidays and have been battling a head cold. Unfortunately, the cold medicine I've been taking hasn't helped with my ability to do much of anything - except go through a 1/2 box of Kleenex a day, as opposed to two.

For instance, last night, Charlie and I were preparing to go to sleep and I started to tell him about a story that my sister, Beth, had relayed to me. I dozed off three times, just in telling my husband that my father's downstairs toilet overflowed and my sister used a wet vac to suck up 20 gallons of water. Charlie had to keep waking me up.

"Jen. You said that the toilet overflowed and there was water everywhere. Was that the end of the story?"

"Oh good gracious no! Beth had to use a wet vac and she sucked up.... zzzzzzzz."


Yesterday, I took a day off. It wasn't really a day "off" because I still dressed and fed our four children and ran the dishwasher. But, I didn't do anything else. Why, I didn't even get out of my own pajamas until late afternoon.

All day yesterday, I laid on the floor, in front of a roaring fire, playing with the new blocks Santa brought our children for Christmas. I was busy creating small block structures - that I desperately tried to keep our kids from knocking down or 'messing up' and then, when I was finished, I organized every last block, cylinder and wedge in to tidy rows in the crate which they arrived.

I love being organized. I love having a neat environment. I love knowing where things are. Seeing the blocks arranged so neatly in their crate satisfied me to my very core.

But they didn't stay that way for long.

Because children, by their very nature, are the epitome of disorder.

Seafloor spreading moves continents. Wind and water erode rock. Roots and insects breakdown soil.

Children move whatever they can, erode their parent's patience and breakdown anything that they encounter.

Today, I'm paying the price for not doing anything other than feed the kids yesterday. There are loads of laundry scattered around the house and piles of stuff that need to be put away. Stuff that I first need to find a space to put away, because we outgrew this house the moment we brought three children home from the hospital.

It is an understatement to say that it is a constant struggle to have any sort of order in a small house that is filled to absolute capacity with two adults, four children and a dog.

Charlie was out of the house and off to work early, and I woke up to disorder. Because it is nearly impossible to get anything done when the children are awake, I instantly started to feel flustered and began to beat myself up over my lack of discipline.

Maybe if I got up earlier, or went to bed later - I could get everything done while the children sleep and then I could be with them every second that they are awake and not busy with things like trying to fold a load of laundry. Or, wash some random dishes. Or, eat. Or go to the bathroom. Because I was serious when I recently told Charlie that I honestly don't have time to visit the restroom during the day and adult diapers might be extremely useful for a busy parent, like myself.

While I was feeling like I was still at the starting gate and my children were almost completely around the track and on their way back to the barn, my mother called.

As I'm on the phone talking to my mom, Henry has a blowout poop. It is soaked through his shirt and up his back. Of course I need to change him. But as I'm taking off his clothes, the poop smears all over his arms, chest and head. It is behind his ears. I only have a few wipes left. And do I really want to use cold wipes all over my baby's body on a chilly January morn?

Mom is telling me "throw him in the sink!" so I do.

But only after he is in the sink and completely covered in soap do I realize I don't have a towel. So, I wrap my baby in a dishrag and bring him to the nursery.

In the two and a half minutes it takes me to get the baby dressed, the triplets flip over the trash can and empty it of it's contents. There are coffee grinds, melon rinds and the contents of a dirty diaper on the floor that I just painstakingly mopped.

Mom tells me that I should load them up and get out. Normally, this is something that I do everyday, but it's close to lunch and nap time.

Mom tells me that I should open the back door and let them run in the yard. But, Molly has had free rein of the backyard for the past week and I don't want our kids traipsing through dog poop, or a pup lawn hors d'oeuvre, as my cousin Kathy calls it.

I tell my mother that I've been reading the Bible a lot lately and am looking for guidance. I also tell her that I really wish Jesus had had children. More specifically, I wish that He had triplets and a baby. I would really love to know how the Son of God would handle parenthood. Would He yell out "Father, please help me!!"? Or would He send his kids off to Montessori - or - hire a helper?

Mom laughed and said, "Jen, so what? So what if the house is a mess? So what if there is dog poop in the yard? So what if everything isn't perfect? Aren't these the children that you always wanted and prayed for? They won't always be little. They won't always be in to everything and making a mess every where they go. One day, you will have a clean house again. But for now, go out in the yard and let them help you pick up the dog poop. They'd love it. Just let go."

This is something that I already knew, but needed to be reminded of. With my mother's advice, I handed one child a pooper scooper and plastic bags to the other two.

Much to my surprise, when chaos causing agents are in mixed company, peace reigns. At least until the kids get in to a fight over who's turn it is to scoop poop.

But because the battlefield of bedlam can be a messy environment, it's a good idea to wear washable shoes.


  1. These exact thoughts that you speak of run through my mind on a daily basis. I have twins, too small of a house, too much stuff, and my chores are never ever done. Your blog has a way of making me delightfully aware that I'M NOT THE ONLY ONE. So THANKS!! and happy new year!

  2. I'm not sure why toddlers enjoy scooping up dog poop so much, but I am sure glad they do!

    I'm convinced that the original entropy was created by the world's first toddlers...and it just has kept on going.

    I keep thinking that I am going to let go of the overwhelming desire to organize EVERYTHING. But it looks like instead I am just going to lose my mind.

  3. R E L A X!!!! Sit down with your new Pottery Barn did get yours didn't you? Check out page 28 for Molly & the garage, photos & blogging page 43 & 46, bar on page 52, organizing 118-119, sudoku game (I am addicted to this game - got one similiar to this for Christmas) on page sale 9 and last but not least the mini travel bar set on sale page 10 to keep with you on your many outings.

  4. Oh, that box of neatly aligned blocks made my brain soooo happy. If it were me, I'd come up with some system of layering the blocks, with each layer separated by a piece of cardboard that has each block outlined on it. THAT'S a sickness.

    This past weekend we gutted my girls' playroom, and now every shelf, bin, drawer and tub is labeled for them to easily put things away. Hah! We'll see about that, but after three days, IT'S STILL CLEAN! There is hope for you!

    I already love your mother. Her common sense advice was da bomb. You should call and talk to her every day. All day. Can I get her number, too?

  5. Thank you for expressing so well the frustration that all of us feel, even if we don't have four small children! Is it the media that tells us we have to be and look perfect 24-7?

    Your house will never be "perfect," and no one is going to die because of that. The kids might pick up a few germs, but -- as my great grandmother used to say, "You have to eat a peck of dirt during your life." Germs in moderation will make them stronger.

    Not getting dressed is not the end of the world. Loving your family and yourself is what life is all about.

    Love, Susan

  6. I know it is hard to do, but I have given up on having a clean house. Our downstairs area is tidied up during naptime and after the kids go to bed, but the upstairs is total disorganization and it will stay that way for who knows how long! Our kitchen floor disgusts me and could be mopped 3 times a day but I don't have the energy. Hey, maybe give the kids a mop and see what happens...can't be any worse than asking them to pick up dog poop..HA! Still laughing about the adult diapers!

  7. So where did you get those blocks????? I was looking to get some large blocks for my kids for Christmas, but my sister offered to buy the kids blocks and, well, ya know, we ended up with a million small blocks.
    So I'm still looking, and those look perfect!

  8. "Or would He send his kids off to Montessori".

    Haha! Works for me! And I only have 2 (2 under 28 months, I must add!). Nursery starts next week... thank goodness. Some days I feel v guilty, as your mum says, they are only little once. But then I think that as my husband is out the house 6am-7pm, there is no way on this earth that our house can be run by one person if there are two kids running around at the same time - and I'd rather they had 2 hours at nursery in the morning being enriched, than 1/2 an hour in front of the TV whilst I try and mop the floor, feed the cats, do the laundry, make the dinner and save the world. And it allows me to give my 6mo old some 'alone' time without a rowdy toddler interrupting everything she does.

    Hang in there. I definitely have days like this... today being an example.. that's why I am reading blogs and not doing the laundry.

    P.s. re the 'stuff'. Check out Chris's new year's resolution in '', and a sobering but important film on - site is down at present but i hope it comes back up soon.

  9. LOVE this post! Your mom has great advice. There is a poem I have about having kids and a clean house...I will have to find that and type it out to you.
    Happy New Year!

  10. Your mom sounds like a great mother. It's no wonder you turned out so well. You patience, and durability amaze me. There are days that I think I might just pull all my hair out, put on clown makeup and walk around in a daze, (on these days do think that I could call your mom)? You are doing a great job!! Start asigning little chores for the triplets, with little rewards. At our house it has worked in the past to have a grab bag full of dollar store items. Each chore done right earns you a star, when you have reached a certain # of stars you get to close your eyes, and grab a prize. For what it is worth I think you are a wonderful mother, you are doing a great job better then a lot of moms, with 1/2 the number of kids!

  11. Adult diapers would be AWESOME.

    And the beatitudes would be totally different if Jesus had had children. Who's blessed NOW???

  12. because I too have fight entrophy, I will be lazy and copy and paste
    these exact thoughts that you speak of run through my mind on a daily basis. I have twins, too small of a house, too much stuff, and my chores are never ever done. Your blog has a way of making me delightfully aware that I'M NOT THE ONLY ONE. So THANKS!! and happy new year! I could say the same about all the comments.This post has made my day.

  13. Jen- I'm at my sister's right now and she lives in 1600 square feet. There are six kids, a dog, and two cats. My sister may have taken some sort of pill and is secluded in her bedroom right now. I'm reading your blog and ignoring them all. I'm really not sure if a castle would be big enough for us all, but my only advice on this post is GET RID OF THE DOG! Then call the local Montessori school. That's what Jesus would do.

  14. Jen please give yourself a break! I'm not a parent so I really have no business saying that to you but your mom is right. They're only going to be little once.

    Now I will go to my corner and keep my berrying mouth shut.

  15. Jesus does have children and ALL of them are disobedient continually. Thankfully, because he always obeyed his father, his children have forgiveness of sins and a righteousness not their own with which they can call God their father too. Frankly, it's that truth and the truth that he was tempted in all points as we are yet without sin and the promises that he prays for me and will never leave or forsake me that push me through another messy day!
    Take heart Jen!

  16. Great pictures and I am so glad you are taking my advise. I was ready to fly out when we last talked--glad you have come to your senses.

  17. Sometimes you just have to stop and do nothing...wasn't it great!?! That's one of the things that I love about Christmas week. Of course, a mom never truely completely stops, but slowing down works!
    I would have fun with those blocks too.

  18. Dear Jenn:
    Listen to your Mommmmmma
    Happy Berry New Year!
    Ahhhhhhhh 3 year olds!