Lately when I look into my cupboards I feel strangely frustrated by their disorganization. I’m sort of a messy person by nature. I don’t like to think of myself as a slob, but more like a creative tornado that sweeps through my home, picking up and setting down bits of projects and half-finished thoughts in my wake.
The hardest part about being so messy is that living among clutter and mess really gets under my skin. I’m happiest in a clean house. I can think in a clean house. I can see clearly and I can breathe. In a messy house it is easy for me to become overwhelmed and depressed. Even a sink full of dirty dishes can be daunting. Keeping up with my own messes is a daily practice in perseverance and self preservation.
So it’s not totally irregular for a messy cupboard to get under my skin, but lately there is something else going on when I peer into that disorganized pile of spice bags and extract bottles. I keep having this thought:
“This is going to be somebody’s mother’s cupboard.”
Even with my own Mom still young and healthy, the weight of nostalgia encompassing everything to do with one’s mother feels pretty intense to me. I was taught from a very young age that mothers were something both powerful and fragile. Between Disney movies killing off mothers left and right, and my own parents having lost their folks so early on, I was left with a need to horde little memories and details about my own Mom.
I would go through her jewelry box as a kid, obsess over old photos of her from before I was born, and listen intently for any and all clues that would reveal the depths of her character beyond just who she was as my mother. I remember her cupboards. I remember the cupboards in every kitchen she ever owned, and how their patterns repeat no matter where she’s lived.
Last weekend she was lamenting over her latest struggles with the tupperware cabinet. She didn’t need to describe the cabinet in her new house. I know exactly what it must look like. She’s been battling that same cabinet full of tupperware for as long as I can remember. The only difference is that now she doesn’t have a yellow lab and four destructive kids raiding it day in and day out.
When my best friend lost her mom recently she was faced with the impossibly difficult task of going through her apartment and all of her things. When every simple object is packed with memories of your mother, how can you decide what to keep and what to let go of? Suddenly I look at everything in my everyday life differently. The tools that I work with to create art, food, and words seem special all of the sudden. The mindless habits that accompany me through my days and the little differences between myself and everyone else on Earth are about to matter to someone the way that my own mother matters to me.
I’m going to be somebody’s mother. Holy crap.
So when I look at my own cupboards I wonder if little Babeleo will pay such close attention. Will he/she see me as I am, a pile of pots and pans chucked haphazardly into a space that was obviously engineered for organization, or when they look into my kitchen will they shrug and simply shout out, “Hey Mom! Where’s the vanilla?”