Am I the only one who has that single spot in their home that is a constant, infuriating reminder of how epically they are failing as an adult? For me, that spot is a hopelessly disorganized counter in my kitchen.
When it’s clean (semi-annually), it’s supposed to where you’ll find kitchen utensil storage and perhaps a place to store a few pieces of new mail. There is a little stack of post-it notes and a pen or two nearby for scrawling messages, like people in tidy homes do for each other when one isn’t home. There’s a calendar hanging up, not buried under a plethora of reminder notices and kids’ homework assignments. It’s an orderly, functional area of the home. Or at least, it’s supposed to be.
The thing is, this kitchen counter is more than just a ridiculously cluttered spot in a home that is almost equally disordered. It’s more than an inside-out junk drawer that seemingly threw up on itself. It’s more than a mere representation of my messy personality.
It’s like…… a symbol of adulthood as I’ve come to know it.
If you were to look at it closely, you would see there isn’t just random junk mail and school art projects strewn carelessly about (though you will find an abundance of those too).
There are actual important documents in that pile. Things that should be dealt with immediately, or at least put away neatly. Things like unpaid bills. Important school notices. Insurance paperwork. My income taxes. My daughter’s first ever “report card” from preschool. Copies of the magazine in which my own words were literally published in print for the very first time in my life. Like, seriously important stuff.
It’s as though everything that is vitally significant to my existence resides within a chaotic stack on my kitchen counter, sandwiched between loose crayons and old Costco catalogues.
It’s not like I really have time to clean it. I sometimes distractedly stop what I’m doing and grab one or two things off the top to either toss in the recycling bin or file away somewhere safe. But then I take a second look and think “who am I even kidding?” and give up to stick my head in the fridge to find something to snack on.
So the stack just grows higher and higher with each passing day, more and more art projects and potentially important documents piled on top on a regular basis.
Sometimes I walk by that counter and I’m just like, wow. If being an adult were a class in school I would be seriously flunking out. If growing up were a video game, I would lose one life every time I added another “Final Notice” to top of the mound. If the fate of the entire free world hinged on my ability to be an actual, mature, grown, human being, there would be a crisis of apocalyptic proportions.
That kitchen counter represents the apocalypse of my ability to have my stuff together.
When you’re young, you have this overly optimistic faith in yourself, this notion that someday you’ll enter adulthood and just automatically grow up. Like it happens overnight or something. Maybe the domestic goddess fairy will sprinkle some fairy dust on your pillow one night and you’ll wake up the next morning as June Cleaver, or at the very least, Monica Gellar.
How silly, right? No one ever seems to realize that keeping your life together is hard enough when you only need to care for yourself, but it’s exponentially more difficult when you’re suddenly taking care of others as well. Why did no one ever tell me this???
Here’s a funny thought: I just realized that the time I’ve devoted to writing about my messy kitchen counter could have been spent ACTUALLY CLEANING IT. Oh well!
By Jeannine Cintron, a Staten Island mom of two and domestic goddess in training.