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Chaos: It’s not just a theory anymore.

March 4, 2009

As of last Friday, Soren’s pulse oxygen level was 45 points higher than his science grade. Despite a concerted effort, we’ve yet to locate that pesky black hole into which so many of his assignments are sucked.

Chiara has been hiding worksheets beneath the stuffed animals in her backpack, and those she does complete are most often forgotten in her folder.

“Oh,” she said when I discovered the latest pile of crinkled and dog-eared pages of completed work, “I guess I forgot to turn those in.”

Graysen and Chiara both have highwater syndrome. They suddenly have no pants that actually fall below their ankles.

In addition, Melody the rat has a tumor. The recent load of juniper pollen blowing around means mega bucks for meds, as Soren is highly allergic. The car needs an oil change desperately. Mount St. Laundry is threatening, once again, to erupt. The dog should be bathed, especially considering the juniper problem. Food keeps disappearing from the fridge. Dust bunnies are growing big sharp teeth in every corner.

And none of this is surprising. As any mother will tell you, chaos ain’t no theory. If you don’t believe me, have a kid. Or several. Stir well, then add pets. Voila! Theory becomes reality.


Right after Chiara was born, I went kicking and screaming into this reality. Fortunately, that long-ago lesson mostly stuck.

Chiara was a day old. Soren and Mira were 6 and 4, respectively, and their favorite daily activity was to empty the toy bins and spread toys liberally all over the house. They had strict guidelines about this activity, namely: don’t play with the toys, just scatter them!

They were deep in the throes of scattering, while simultaneously testing another theory that isn’t really a theory — gravity — when I happened to notice that my carefully raked and arranged Zen garden had been violated by a set of small fingers. Gone were the peaceful spirals of sand. The smooth black rocks were shoved to one corner. The shell … missing.
And in the center of the mayhem, a black plastic spider ring was planted. I stood there holding my little garden (which was nothing but a 5×7 inch wooden tray) and started to cry. I’d just pushed a 9-pound, 10-ounce baby into the world with no drugs and THIS was the thanks I get?

Through my grief I could hear the kids rummaging through their toy bins and flipping toy after toy out onto the floor, sometimes by way of the wall. They were laughing maniacally. With evil intent. I knew it. Those two were out to ruin everything. There was a plot afoot, and I was the intended victim.

And there in a bouncy seat next to me, waving her little hands like signal flags as if to say FEED ME! CHANGE ME!, was baby Chiara. I knew that if the older two hadn’t already made plans to rope her into their plot to make me insane, they soon would. I was brutally, permanently outnumbered.

In response, I got mad. I stunned Soren and Mira speechless with my tears. And, if memory serves, I chucked the spider in the trash.

Later, when they were all sweetly sleeping, I regretted my little tantrum. I smoothed the sand once again. Raked the spirals back in. Dusted off the rocks and arranged them where the spider had been. Then I put the tray up high on a shelf, minus the shell which was lurking in the nether regions of somewhere and never found.

After I sequestered my sanctified space (all 35 square inches of it) it hit me … I was tired. Tired of the mess underfoot and the childrens’ endless needs … yes. But more than that I was tired of the inner chaos that was borne of spending so much time resisting the external chaos. Essentially, I kept wishing reality wasn’t what it was. And therein, I had exhausted myself. It was one of those moments, and I remember it still quite clearly, when the lights went on. The proverbial bells rang. Epiphany.

Instead of spending all my time and energy resisting reality, and subjugating my Zen to that little store-bought sand tray now high on a shelf, I could take a deep breath and go with it. Because, of course, life isn’t theoretical. In fact, it was busily happening every moment, all around me, oblivious to my lofty idealism that was masquerading as a deep need to quench the fire of chaos. As if.

I can remind the kids to keep track of their homework. I can take the rat to the vet, and buy more groceries. I’ll tackle the laundry and buy Graysen and Chiara more pants.

And then I’ll do these things all over again. And again. Ad infinitum.

But … dang. No matter how hard I try to keep up, those dust bunnies are breeding fast. And they sure look scary.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. March 5, 2009 9:41 pm

    Amen, sister.

  2. hallie permalink
    February 7, 2011 10:56 pm

    … and soon enough too, according to my mum anyway, they’re all gone … and you have back all the territory you once had, and find that you’re no longer at home in it. And then start looking for ways to let that comforting chaos back in.


  1. It’s time to ramble on…. | Non Compos Mentis Mama

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