Entropy Wears a Diaper

Entropy Diaper    The Second Law of Thermodynamics lives at my house. You know the physics principle that states that all things tend toward chaos? In our case, chaos has brown ringlets and a dimple in her adorable little chin.

We just arrived home from our second out-of-state trip in less than a month, a saga that included an unexpected mechanic visit during which one of the kids threw up in the back seat. Our house looks like somebody emptied the contents of every dresser and bookcase onto the floor and then ran over it all with a monster truck. The evergreen wreath shed a quarter of its needles in our absence, and there are mysterious green spots on the kitchen linoleum (ground-in peas, maybe?). Sigh…

My two year old, chaos-in-motion, loves to “help”. I know this is something to encourage. Having fun with chores now will turn into a good attitude about work in the future. But in the meantime, as I corral that busy little body and home school her freewheeling, talkative sister, I am one tired mama. Anyone who has ever tried to do anything productive with young children around knows the drill.

I start unpacking my little one’s suitcase, and she decides to unpack her diaper bag. Soon there is a flurry of diaper wipes fluttering festively about the house, decorating the piano, the couch, the Christmas tree. I put a load of dirty socks and underwear in the washer. While I start my oldest on a writing assignment she doesn’t want to do, the young one helpfully sneaks a few pairs of dirty socks and undies in with clean clothes I’ve just thrown in the dryer. We pause in cleaning the house long enough to wrap a few gifts. Of course, in the mind of a two-year-old, the only reason to wrap a gift is to unwrap it right away. So out comes more wrapping paper and tape, as I grumble and fume and envision steam coming out of my ears like I’m Yosemite Sam. Can’t anything just be simple?

We welcomed our children screaming and messy into this world. They have never been simple. They arrived full of passion and will and promise and selfishness and unique beauty. They fight against what we want for them, what is best for them. They make our life complicated.

As a younger woman, I handled the entropy – the spinning out of control – better than I do now. There are times I daydream about the life of a woodland hermit. I can see myself out in a cabin somewhere, barefoot, with nothing but my guitar and a notebook and pen. In reality, I think I would last about a day; I’m too much of an extrovert to be away from the people I love for any longer. But just the thought of solitude brings me some peace, at least for a few moments.

On these days when my kids are fighting, my phone is ringing off the hook, my email inbox is full, and my wheels are spinning, I wonder how we’ll all make it to bed time. Screaming and messy, I accuse the One who brought me here of giving me more than I can handle.

And then as my temper tantrum passes and the steam clears, I remember.

I remember a time when my house was quiet, when things stayed where I put them, when the floor didn’t crunch under my feet. I remember a time before there were sticky little fingers tracing jelly patterns on the table, before there were lip prints on the sliding glass door, before there were cries in the night pulling me from my warm bed. I remember when I had no children, when my arms were empty, before my heart had been stretched and broken and expanded. There was a time before I had seen moonlight in my children’s eyes, before I had heard laughter-song, before I had stroked silk-skin. Before this quiet ache inside spoke to me of how quickly they go from teetering on tiny feet to teetering on the edge of independence.

    Precious, fleeting, glorious mess.


PS  I wrote this a couple days before the tragedy in Connecticut.  As I hold my girls close and breathe them in I’m more grateful than usual for my crazy life.

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