As I might have mentioned, I write a weekly column for South Africa's best parenting magazine - Living and Loving. The incredibly good looking and amazingly talented editor (who has a personal blog where she writes about parenting her son also called Max *cough*, *copy cat*) kindly agreed that I could repost some of my older articles here on my blog. As long as you all go out and buy the magazine and write lovely letters to the editor telling her how incredibly good looking and amazingly talented she is.
Can you sense how zen I am? Do you know why? It is because I am in my study. I LOVE my study; it is my favourite room in the house. It is a proper, grown up study with a big wooden desk with leather inlay, it has dark mahogany bookshelves and buttoned leather chairs. My study is my sanctuary, my creative space, my hiding place. It is where I ply my trade, recharge my batteries and drink my wine. One day when I die, I want to be buried right here in my study.
Unfortunately for me, not everyone reveres my sacred space as much as I do and my desk has become the final destination point for all the paraphernalia in the house that apparently has no final destination point of its own. Bills (unpaid and paid), receipts, old magazines, newspapers, party invitations, toys, kids artwork and a half-eaten peanut butter sandwich (not mine!) all jostle for space on my beautiful leather desk. It drives me CRAZY! I hate clutter, and I especially hate clutter in my sacred space!
Every few days I make half-hearted attempts to sort my desk out, but that usually involves straightening the piles so that the mess looks neat. I make piles of “can put off until tomorrow”, “can put off until next week” and “can put off indefinitely”. I like my procrastination to be ordered, if you know what I mean. Plus a neat mess is more calming than a messy mess, right? No, I know. It isn’t really. Which is why every once in a while, I get stuck in and sort that mess out!
I am a ruthless tidy-upper. Already very un-traditional and unromantic, I save absolutely nothing for keepsake. If it isn’t a case of life or death or being handed over for non-payment, it gets turfed. Yes it would be nice to have an old magazine to cut out of, but I can’t take the chance that if I let the magazine back into the wild (of my house), it will find its way back to my desk. Half-eaten peanut butter sandwiches, old receipts, broken toys and kids artwork all get relegated to file 13 – the dustbin. I can’t tell how satisfying it is to sit at my clean, tidy desk and gaze loving at its empty expanse.
Last week, after a particularly satisfying purge, I was calming sitting at my desk, hard at work at some Serious Work Stuff (which may or may not have included updating my Facebook status and checking Twitter) when I heard a loud gasp pierce the calm: “MOM!!” shouted my six year old son in shock and horror. “What! What’s wrong?” I yelled back, envisioning all sorts of catastrophes.
“SOMEONE THREW THE BEAUTIFUL WOODEN TREE I MADE IN THE DUSTBIN!!”
Mental note to self: When doing desk-purge, always remove evidence immediately.
“Oh dear!” I replied, scrambling for a victim on which to lay the blame. “It must have been... the baby! You know how he likes to throw everything in the bin, silly boy”, I replied nervously.
“Here, let me put it on your desk next to you. Thank goodness I found it, hey Mom!” Thank goodness indeed.*Sob* Back on the desk went the very-sweet, but totally-without-any-usefulness wooden tree.
Yes, I am ashamed to admit it, but I don’t keep all my children’s artwork. In fact, I bin the majority of it. If I were a better mom who spent less time at her desk working (and checking Facebook while drinking her Chardonnay), I would be labelling all their artwork with their names and the dates of their beautiful creations, and filing it away for when they are older.
I suppose I could get some kind of system set up to file and store their (mountains) of artwork that didn’t involve (a) my desk or (b) the dustbin, but where would I store the artwork store? I know what would happen, the artwork file would somehow find its way back to my study and add even more clutter to my lovely me-time room. No, I can’t take the chance.
Luckily for me, modern technology has saved my mother-cred to a degree. I am now able to scan some of their drawings and save it on my computer’s hard drive. A few kilobytes of data is so much easier to store than an A4 piece of paper with Picassoesque-like scribbles. Unfortunately the scanning thing doesn’t work as well on wooden trees with bits of mosaic stuck on it.
Yes, I will probably go straight to hell for throwing away my children’s artwork but at least my final resting place (my study) will be neat and tidy and free of clutter.
PS: In my defence, the wooden tree really wasn’t his best work.