Lately I feel like my life consists of piles.
On the ledge next to the staircase: triaged mail. Thank you notes to write, bills to pay, correspondence that needs attention.
On the kitchen counter: child art work. The preschool apple unit, the bear unit, the pumpkin unit. Worksheets with handwriting practice. The number 1, the number 2, the number 3.
On the floor of the pantry: detritus. Dust bunnies, Goldfish crumbs, green sprinkles.
On the coffee table: New York Times crossword puzzles. Abandoned. Semi-abandoned. Complete.
On the couch: borrowed Halloween costumes. Too small. Too big. Just right.
Next to my bed: books. Christmas gifts from 2009. Loaned from friends. Borrowed from the library.
On the chair next to my dresser: clothes. Clean and draped. Clean and folded. Semi-worn and tossed in a heap on top.
Next to my desk: more books. Read and annotated. To be read and to be annotated.
In our playroom: my children’s piles. Legos, dinosaurs, blocks. Highlights magazines, library books, puzzles. Couch cushions and Pillow Pets jury-rigged into a fort.
Outside my window: leaves. Rusty red, sunburst orange, being raked by the kids next door. They gather them up and then leap into them, scattering them into the air and then back down on the ground.
Dispatching their piles without a care.
I’m jealous of those kids, not only because I am inside working while my kids nap on this magnificent – perfect really – autumn afternoon. I’m jealous because they seem to know how to get rid of their piles. If only I could get rid of mine so easily: lifting them lightly onto my palm, making a wish, and blowing them away.
Piles or no piles, I am one of the lucky ones. I know that. A majority of working mothers say that they would prefer to work part time. That is my preference too – for now, at least – and that’s what I get to do: I work part time, from home. I get to spend lots of time with my kids and I get to do work that I love.
But what I haven’t figured is how to deal with all of those piles, how to keep track of the rest of the stuff that makes up a life. All of that household management that I used to sneak in between naps and meal preparation and my turn in Candy Land.
I’ve heard it said that you can have it all, just not all at once. But I have to disagree; you can have it all: you can have a family and a career.
And, apparently, piles.
What’s in your piles? Are you an efficient household manager?