My kitchen was one humongous mess the other night. I may have been more clumsy and careless than usual, but basically everything that had the potential to spill actually did. There was milk on the counter, and broken egg shells, and spoons on the floor, and an ever growing pile of sticky dishes in the sink.
It’s overwhelming to find yourself in the middle of a great big mess, especially when you know you’re the one who created it. When I looked around me and saw the disgustingly dirty table and blemished counter, I wanted to abandon my baking and hide in my room. I wanted to leave the mess for someone else to clean up, or blame it on some other person, or ignore it forever. I even wanted to take everything and stuff it out of sight just so I wouldn’t have to look at it one second longer.
What is a mess anyway? A sign of failure? An indication of hard work? Proof that you’re making mistakes and dropping things and generally fumbling your way along? A mark of carelessness? Evidence that fun was had? A mess is all these things and more.
By the time the baking came out of the oven, it was past 10 o’clock and I was exhausted. It’s always when you’re feeling the most tired that you find yourself having to clean up the biggest mess. That’s what makes a mess so tempting to avoid or run away from. Some people actually do. I guess they’d rather live in messy kitchens for the rest of their lives than pick up a dishcloth and start scrubbing. Or they do what I was tempted to do: throw a rug over the evidence and stuff all the used measuring cups in the closet so that they can pretend that they never created a mess in the first place. When you were little, your parents or teachers told you to clean up the toys you left on the floor, and pack away the pieces, and put everything back on the shelf or into the box. When you’re an adult, no one explicitly tells you to clean up, so it’s more or less a personal choice.
We’re probably all guilty of attempting to cover up the mess we made at some point in our lives. It’s the easy route: why not take it? I’ll be the first to admit that it’s hard to be responsible all the time; it’s tiring to have to be a grown up.
What if I prolonged my clean up and waited till the morning? That’s what I almost did. But the mess would be even more overwhelming the next day, I knew that. I’d have to work twice as hard to remove the dried dough from the table top, and I’d then have breakfast dishes to add to the already large pile waiting to be washed. Simply not worth it. Also, I don’t think I could sleep well, knowing that I made a big mess and just left it there. I don’t know how some people do. They either aren’t capable of a guilty conscience or else they are just very good at ignoring it.
Dealing with a mess is not fun but a lot of things in life are not fun and we have to do them anyway. That comes with the territory of being human or maybe – more accurately – of being a good person.