Beyond the Clutter

Clutter can contribute to discomfort, I’m told. It impacts some of us more than others, but it is said to lessen our ability to focus and even cause stress. I feel this, and while I don’t love clutter in general, there are certain kinds of clutter that just don’t feel like clutter to me. And I recently found out I’m not alone!


Piles of papers on the dining room table or office floor? Maybe a little annoying. Stacks of dishes and glasses on the counter waiting to go in the dishwasher is also clutter of the irritating kind. But I discovered a kind of clutter that was not just “not clutter” to me, it was comforting! And I think I know why!


For nearly a month, my college kids have been home for Winter Break. (YAY!) Slowly but surely their things settled back into their familiar places here. And not all those places are formal storage spaces. Backpacks leaned against big chairs in the family room, hoodies and coats draped over chairs in the kitchen, various mail and bags of cookies and candy and headphones on the island in the kitchen. Small piles of clothes – some dirty and destined for their laundry baskets, some clean and destined for their closets. Water bottles, coffee mugs and workout bags usually in the kitchen, too. 


“CLUTTER!” says my husband. He tries to ignore it but eventually asks them to pick this up or move that. We explored this idea of clutter with our friends one night. The guys agreed right away that the situation I just described was definitely clutter. While they LOVED having the kids home the clutter was an annoyance. 


I declared that this was not clutter – it was COMFORT. Having these pieces of my kids’ lives scattered about reinforced their beautiful presence in our home. I looked at it all and I felt joy, not stress. It reminded me of when they were little and clutter was simply part of our existence. Toys in half of the rooms in the house. Pictures and art projects made by my children graced many walls. Books, sippy cups, clothes in random places. THAT was part of childhood and being in the moment and treasuring my little people, not worrying so much about mess or clutter. In fact, seeing those precious things all around somehow made our home feel like a more special and magical place. There was an essence of love. 


My friend agreed with me! In our little sample, the moms saw beyond the clutter. 


In a few short days both kids will be back at school for the new semester. Our home will once again – temporarily – be much lower on the clutter scale. The kitchen island will have only an orchid plant and candle on it. Chairs and floors will be devoid of coats and backpacks and clothes. The kids’ bathroom will look neat and tidy, no toothbrushes or hairbrushes or razors in sight. 


My husband will take all this in, smile and comment on the lack of clutter. He might even do a jumping jack or two, which is his way of teasing me about how much more space there is now. I giggle as I look around and notice how nice and organized everything is, but I also feel the emptiness of it. 


Because I see beyond the clutter. I feel comfort in it. I feel the essence of love that lingers with it. 

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  1. You speak from the heart, Sydnei. I feel this in my own home. I love piles of shoes the most. When my kids invite their friends over everyone takes off their shoes by the door. It seems the bigger the shoe pile gets the fuller my heart feels! ❤️❤️❤️

    1. Thank you, Marla 💗 I absolutely love how you described your feelings about the shoe pile!! Full heart, indeed! 💗

    1. Marielle I’m so sorry I just noticed your thoughtful comment!! Thank you so much for taking the time to read this piece and to comment with your encouragement!!

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