The Dude and I decided a while back to put our house on the market and move in town to something that works a little better for our family, today and in the future. Not that we know the future, but you know what I mean. I’m one of those people that when a new task is on the horizon I tackle it with the brute force of an NFL linebacker. The Dude like to say that I am on speed 10 and everyone else is on speed 3. Case in point. I did some math and figured that 4 small children + 1 small house + stuff lining the walls in every room = impossible to keep in a “show ready” state. And when I say show-ready, I mean to the standards of all those shows I have been watching on HGTV for years. This was my chance to redeem all of those mindless hours of House Hunters and Get It Sold.
So I made a list of things to tackle in every room and enlisted help with everything from dumpster diving for free packing supplies to painting my treacherous stairwell. I sent two friends into the abyss that was my children’s shared bedroom and said “Pack it all.” And they did. All that was left for my three oldest children was one shelf of books and two small plastic drawers of toys. We even took one of their beds away. Meanwhile, in the kitchen I decided that we wouldn’t need glasses or mixing bowls anymore. They went into storage along with every seemingly meaningless kitchen gadget. Food processor, rolling pin, cake pans, blender, baking sheets, ice cream scoop. Gone. I left myself 6 plates, 1 drinking glass, and 4 bowls.
In hindsight this was a mistake. Please don’t pack your kitchen until very last. I think I was under some sort of delusion that this process would take a total of 3 weeks and we would perfectly unpacked and drinking out of our own glasses and baking birthday cakes well before we would miss any of this stuff. Three weeks later my day came up to take a meal to a friend who had a baby. I chose Vegetable Beef Pie. It’s delicious. Planning to blog about it soon. I got all of the filling prepared, went to roll out the dough and realized I had packed the rolling pins. So I got creative and used the one glass I had left behind to roll the dough into a vague circle. When I went to place it in the pie plate I realized I did not have a pie plate anymore. So the vague circle became a sort-of-square to accommodate the only baking dish that remained in the cupboard….One month later my husband was found drinking milk out of a pyrex measuring cup…. two months and I’m borrowing cake pans from my friends to bake his birthday cake.
I don’t have any “before” pictures of my house. I wish I did. But here are some pictures of what it looks like now.
After the initial shock of an empty kitchen I began to realize something. My kids were playing very well together. Happily, even peacefully. I had time to join in the fun because I wasn’t washing all of the dishes in my kitchen that I had let pile up on the counter. The kids did not ask for the toys that were out of their room. They were too busy enjoying the open space to wrestle with daddy and play basketball on the hoop hanging from their door. I could actually clean the house because I didn’t have any clutter to worry about. I could join in the fun with my family because there was an end to my housework. I’m not saying that our home will always be “show-ready”. But I am enjoying how restful a house free from a choking amount of stuff can be. I have realized that hanging onto everything on the off-chance that we might need it someday was stealing my joy in mothering and homemaking and robbing my affections for Christ. I have a hard time looking at a pile of toys in the middle of the living room floor and thinking joyful thoughts about how blessed we are. It is easier for me to look at a pile of children in the middle of the living room floor, giggling and enjoying, sharing and helping, and give thanks to God for the abundance with which he has blessed us. Happy children, healthy bodies, loving hearts. A family.