There were muddy soccer cleats in the middle of the kitchen floor when I got up this morning. Striped soccer socks and shin pads too - carelessly lying where they were dropped by DD, aged 5, in a rush to get her share of freshly picked strawberries after the game last night.
I stepped over the cleats, twice, on my way out the door to work. And thought nothing more of it, until overhearing a conversation at the deli counter at lunch time.
Two women, in their 30's, obviously mothers, talking about all the clutter in their homes - toys, sporting equipment, clothes and books. I found myself smiling at their conversation, nodding my head absently as if they were speaking to me. As they bemoaned the lack of domestic organization that seems part and parcel of raising children, I heard echoes of conversations I've had with friends along similiar lines, and mentally took stock of the clutter in our home.
Art & craft supplies and artwork on the desk; journals and paper beside the computer; books on the coffee table, lego in the oddest places, beads and toys and games and puzzles that don't always make it back upstairs after being used, and yes, cleats and socks and shin pads on the kitchen floor.
I should have picked them up, I thought to myself. And that's when I had an A-Ha! moment. Because the truth is, while I have visions of spotless perfection, they are visions fostered by unrealistic expectations and television ads featuring homes that real children obviously never set foot inside. The truth is that deep down I like the everyday clutter. It speaks volumes about our family life - that the children are active, interested, artistic, happy, enthusiastic, messy, imaginative - and very, very normal.
To everything there is a season, and all those things do get put away eventually. When I get home it's quite possible that DD, prompted by DH, will already have picked up those cleats and put them in the mud room where they belong. But if not, I hope I can step over those cleats once again, give big hugs all round, admire some more artwork, and - if any are left - enjoy a few of those juicy strawberries.