There are eight of us living in this townhome of ours, and quarters are what we like to call "cozy." Cozy, as in warm and interactive and integrated, and yes, cozy as in absolutely no space to oneself.
The beauty in this set-up is that things simply cannot fester long. There is nowhere to hide and avoid one another -- if you're stuck within five feet of a pleasantly humming sibling, especially one who is engrossed in making something you absolutely cannot stand not to see, it's just plain hard to stay mad at them for long. But as the kids have grown, and their personal stashes of stuff increased, cozy has become harder to manage. Or more specifically, my need for some range of tidy within cozy has become completely unmanageable.
Once upon a time there was our stripped-down bedroom -- a bed, a clean-topped dresser and nightstand, a laundry basket. But here in Cozy the bedroom has morphed into a deeply layered study/shop/sewing room, in which we also happen to sleep. Once, we had our very own kidfree bathroom that housed two towels and a small rug. But now, this six-person bathroom is perpetually littered with plastic horses and bobby pins and, well, unwashed diapers.
And once, not so long ago, I had pretty exclusive rights to the kitchen counters. But last night the ten year-old spent an extra long time on the dishes while I put the younger kids to bed. After a solid hour, she ecstatically invited me downstairs to view the new set-up.
And here's where my need for some level of tidy (because completely chaotic rooms are right up there with sleep deprivation for me) collides with my absolute love of the creative energy these kids weave into and all over this place.
I love that this girl spent her entire evening arranging measuring cups and spoons waayyyyy over by the pencil jar, far, far away from the mixer. I love how carefully she shifted all of the sun-hungry herbs to the top, sunfree recesses of the cupboards. She took the apples from the counter where the kids snack, and put them in the corner between the fridge and the toaster oven. She hung the aging scrub brush on the wall near the oil painting -- with a thumb tack. And all of the items I had hidden from view? They are now proudly in the open, messiest items out front.
I love that she thoughtfully considered and arranged and reconsidered and shifted, and I love that she did it all for me.
But at some point I'm going to have to cook in that room. And it's going to kill me.