Over the past couple of weeks of blogging silence (have you missed me?), our family has been working hard to get our house prepared for selling. It went up on the market yesterday, and we’re all frankly exhausted. We’ve repaired and painted, carpet shampooed and sorted. We’ve donated something like 200 books and three trunk-loads of outgrown toys and clothes, shipped off 50 pounds of old VHS tapes, photos, and negatives for recycling, trucked off all our sorted plastics, cans, paper etc., and sold a couple of items too. We have been dealing with our stuff.
I love passing on items that no longer have use or meaning. It’s been an extremely satisfying process to simplify and clean up our household. But this is, of course, not the title of this post. I specifically titled it “In Defense of Messes.”
Anyone who knows me well knows that I love a clean house. I’m not a fan of clutter, and in fact can get very testy when it gets out of hand. However, I have tried to keep an open mind about certain areas in the house, namely the Lego and art areas. We keep out two card tables at all times in our Lego space, and though we own a dozen neat little plastic sorting bins in which to store all those colorful treasures, they are normally almost empty, preferring instead to share all their contents with the tables and floor. This is continual battle between me and the kids, and I usually lose.
The other area I try to be lenient about is the space in which Eva makes art. We keep a vinyl scrap down on the carpet, and Eva at all times ensures that the space is cheerfully cluttered up with paints and felt, ribbons and markers, paper and gems (and who knows what else). Again, from time to time I work with her to clean it up, but for the most part, I try to look away. The kids use these two areas more than any other room in the house. They are constantly building new scenes and ships with their Legos and creating pictures and other amazing little art pieces with all the materials left scattered around.
This is what it looks like now, after we prepared the house for selling:
The splattered vinyl is stowed away, as are the Lego tables and all bazillion Lego pieces. Paint brushes and markers and paint and clay and felt, etc., all put in their proper tubs. Result: clean space with ZERO activity. There is no building happening, no art being created. Eva said she didn’t like living in a house this clean. I laughed and asked her if that’s because she hated cleaning, and she said “no, it’s because I don’t feel like I can DO anything!”
So true. An essential part of the creative process is having materials laying out, cluttered around, waiting to be picked up and put together in new combinations. Our classroom space is a one huge never-ending project, and the one safe place for materials to be ever at the ready and not in their neat little homes. It’s been a good reminder to me that creativity is a messy business, and we all look forward to getting into a new house where we can once again tinker and invent and get a little dirty.