There is this pile on my counter. On my kitchen counter. It’s been there since June 16. The last day of school. It’s technically not sitting right on the counter, but in a wicker basket, because putting stuff in a basket makes it more organized. Well it seems more organized. It’s a pile of papers, and in case you haven’t guessed by now… school papers. Hundreds of them. Worksheets and homework and coloring pages and I don’t know what, but they too are in the pile my 9-year old dumped out of her backpack two weeks ago. I imagine other households across the country encounter this pile every now and again. And although she brings paper/artwork/stuff home daily, this is just the contents of her desk. I managed to convince here that we did not need 15 chewed up/sharpened down doll-house size pencils (we did save the pens and markers) and even tried sorting through some of the papers immediately… but with her watchful eye, things that were heading towards the trash (I mean do I really need to save every homework paper? Do I need to save any of them?) never made the cut. Save everything mom! I worked so hard on it/them. So I suggested we just put the pile temporarily in the basket – the one on the counter, out of the way – until we can go through it together.
Two weeks later and it is still sitting there. Waiting. Just waiting, almost mocking me in a way. Saying “look at me, Miss Organized Mom! I’m still here, taking up all this space, making the counter messy.”
We are definitely in the summer mode. Less is more, and unfortunately that seems to be the case with the efficient organizing system I use to run our house during the school year. The weekly meal plan has gone out the window, replaced by grilling out or breakfast for dinners, the girls schedule are looser, even my laundry schedule is out of sorts. I was running the washing machine at 11pm last night.
To be honest there have been times during the last several weeks when I could have gone through this paper pile myself, thrown the bulk of it away, without 9 even noticing. Late at night, early in the morning, just me and the papers and the trash. She never would never known. Goodbye third grade math facts and French phases, adios scrap papers and reading logs. Hello clean unmessy counter again.
I looked at the pile again this morning (which honestly, how can this be, it has grown!) There are now more papers thrown on top, a few sunscreen bottles thrown on the counter, lip glosses, and a vase of shells. (Which I cannot begin to tell you where they came from since we haven’t gone to the beach yet this summer.)
Why haven’t I just gone through it and cleared it out?
To be perfectly honest, I think this whole end of school came way too fast for this mama, and I’m not completely ready to let it go. I want to save it all. How can my baby be done with third grade already? And how is it possible her older sister is going into 7th grade this fall? How can they be so happy and relieved its summer and school is out, when I am left here looking at papers on the counter and getting all misty eyed? The little girls, who not long ago, followed me around the house and clinged to my legs when I left, are growing up way too fast.
I sensed this growing up thing was on fast forward earlier this spring, when 9 asked when would be a good time for her to start dating, and 11 began to question almost everything that came out of my mouth with a sigh accompanied by an eye roll. And when did I become the mom who embarrassed them by singing in the car with friends present?
With time ticking and summer looming, I came up with a plan. We would make new memories. Begin a new tradition. I shared my idea of MDD “Mother-Daughters-Day” with the girls and they loved it. I would take the day off and just hang with them. No cleaning, no laundry, just a day to have fun. (Well maybe an errand and dentist appointments thrown in) but fun, fun, fun just the three of us.
And we did just that. June 17th was our first Annual MDD, and I have to say that with all the things we squeezed in, and we squeezed in a lot, it was one of the most perfect days. We stayed local, and after dentist appointments, and a few errands, we managed to have a lovely breakfast, stopped by the library to pick up summer reading books, and check out the teen room (had no idea there was a special room on the adult floor for 6-12 grade), treated ourselves to summer pedicures, made journals and had fun by the pool all afternoon. No eye rolling. No sighing.
Time stood still. Just for that one day. I soaked it in. SAVED IT. I think what made it so nice was that we did not rush. AT ALL. I always feel so rushed, get here on time, do this fast, running here and there. On MDD, we just took our time. It was an unorganized, day. Okay a slightly unorganized day. A new concept for me.
So this pile that mocks me on the kitchen counter. That sits there and looks at me as if to say “I’m here but not for long, third grade is over mama, get used it, and get rid of some of this” can just sit there for another week. Until I find the right time to slowly go through it, and look at it with my little one. Some we will save and some we will part with.
Everyone says the days are long, and the years are short. I know this is true. So holding on to a few papers seems okay to me. Being unorganized every now and again seems like maybe it is a good thing. The sky did not fall. We have even had two BBQs since the last day of school, with people strolling in and out of the kitchen. Right past the papers in the corner. And guess what? It was okay. Yep, sky still there, unorganized paper mess and all.
I’ve talked to my 9 and suggested she go through and pick out five papers she wants to save today. We’ll see what I come home to.
Did I mention the pile on the dining room table? Eleven dumped the contents of her locker…