Chris calls me a rebel without a cause. Yes, I question. Everything. But in truth, I follow the rules.
As long as your rules aren’t stupid.
I color inside the lines (with the grain of the coloring going the same way and melding seamlessly). I sort the toys into the right bins. I clear away piles from the kitchen counter.
In high school, I once woke up in the middle of the night appalled that my bed had become so unmade. I smoothed out the sheets and comforter and slept on top of my bed (cold) for the remainder of the night.
I like the appearance of order. But don’t open my closets, inspect my filing cabinets (where all those piles on the kitchen counter end up willy-nilly in folders, sometimes marked), or try to find anything in my pantry. Don’t expect to locate a particular book on my shelf using any system based on genre, alphabetical order of author, or Dewey decimal. I shelve by instinct and love.
My existence flirts between the lines of order and disorder, tidiness and chaos.
Years ago at a conference, Jeremy Begbie introduced me to the term “non-order.” He called it “the jazz factor.” Something about this rang true, but I didn’t know what it meant to live it. I loved jazz music, but I couldn’t play it.
Then I had kids.
Before kids, I liked my scheduled days–writing in the mornings and early afternoon, reading during lunch, teaching music in late afternoons and early evenings. I didn’t watch TV until my tasks were completed. I maintained daily word quotas (in general, at least). The rhythms lent meaning in times of rejection. They fed my creativity.
My kids interrupted my rhythms.
My kids taught me to embrace untidiness, the unexpected, and hemiolas.* They taught me to enjoy laughter when dinner’s burning and I’ve missed a deadline and my ears are ringing from choruses of Five Little Monkeys sung with outside, mountain-top voices inside a three-foot fort.
They taught me how to riff.
We dance to coffee grinding, corn popping, and smoothies blending. We make a joyful noise unto the Lord with piano, drums, and kazoos. We don’t skirt puddles–we jump in them. As long as other kids aren’t zipping down the slides, I let my kids climb up the slides (which appalls a former teacher friend of mine). They regularly rearrange my Tupperware and pots and pans. And last week, I let them mix the Play-Doh colors.
Freedom washed over me.
Did you know you could do this? That you can mash the green with the orange? It didn’t launch the zombie apocalypse. Armies didn’t gather at Armageddon. Cylons didn’t attack.
When we tell people we’re expecting our third, it often inspires warnings of the coming chaos.
I’ve learned that life is not about balance. Some days I’m Wonder Woman. I can whip up a gourmet-ish dinner, edit a short story, and fold laundry. Other days, I survive until nap time when I crash and hope the rest will get me through until Chris gets home (either that or a special day of popcorn and Toy Story). I followed my new blogging rule of two posts a week for an entire week before missing a post, and I actually forgave myself.
God generates excess. Abundance. He created fasts and feasts.
I used to see parenting as a fast from the things of old–lazy Saturday mornings, last minute matinees, evenings at the symphony.
Now I understand that this is not an interruption of my regularly scheduled life. This is my normal, and it’s full, and it’s festive.
Sure, we still pick up the toys, and I’m pretty strict about bed time, but I don’t want my scheduled life anymore. I’ve learned to walk in both order and disorder, and I’ve grown addicted to the surprise of non-order. I now delight over unusual rocks, waste an afternoon when a certain little girl insists on napping only in my arms (still, at fifteen months), and don’t stress (too much) when flour goes flying because Keegan wants to help me make pancakes.
Heck, I may even learn to play jazz one day.
*Hemiolas happen when music is written in one meter but feels like it’s in another meter.