I’m sorry mom that I didn’t really understand so many things growing up. I vividly remember when I was a child, my room a disaster of toys and blankets, a giant chalk board for drawing, stuffed animals strewn about, and lord knows what else haphazardly in piles. I remember my room was supposed to be clean by the time you got home, and it wasn’t. You cried, and said you ‘didn’t know how I would ever make it as an adult if I couldn’t even clean up my room’. At the time I 100% didn’t understand what the big deal was, but I remember that being one of my first light bulb moments as a child. “Uh oh. Mom is crying because of me, something important must be happening right now. I should pay attention.”
I don’t really remember if I kept my room clean or not after that. Mostly my childhood memories are individual moments of trying to find my glasses I misplaced and taking picture of my favorite stuffed animal Puppy. (Thanks mom for financially supporting my photography habit at such a young age, even though 99.9% of my pictures were terrible and I don’t even have them anymore. But I did learn a lot and hopefully that shows now.) I like to think that I changed my behavior as best a child can. Though I can’t really say that my cleanliness extended much beyond my bedroom door.
Fast forward to college, and I’m 90% sure my room is 70% clean about 80% of the time. I even had an apartmentmate tell me that I was ‘possessive’ of my food area when I lived in co-ed housing because I had to have all my stuff in one neat little area. But I just explained to him that in actuality I just needed my food all in one spot, otherwise I would never remember what was mine and I’m sure food would go to waste. It had nothing to do with ‘claiming territory’ as he called it, it just had to do with me not remembering what I bought. He laughed and said “oh, ya, I forget which food is mine sometimes…” Point made. Who knows, maybe you even helped someone else’s kid out.
I’m sorry parents that I made exasperated sounds when you would ask me to grab something from the pantry. “Mom, this expired last year.” Now I understand that keeping a pantry organized and keeping food rotating through is not as easy as a single cupboard in college or shelf in the fridge. That buying in bulk from Costco is both a blessing and a curse. Having my own pantry now, I understand what it’s like to buy a giant box of canned green beans, because it’s cheaper than buying single cans. #BallerOnABudget I have been looking at the box for a while now, as I slowly use a can at a time. How long will that box last me, lord only knows. But I guess I should look at the expiration date to make sure I use them up in time. Because now I understand how that happens.
“Mom, why do you have like, 3 things of this?” “Because I forgot we already had some and I bought more.” Or conversely “what, we are out? I swear we had some in there.” Ask me how many individual cans of tri bean blend I have in my pantry right now. It’s more than 5 but less than 10. Why? Because I swear that I was out when I was at the store so I bought more. Made some awesome sweet potato fries, and lo and behold, no ketchup. What? That can’t be right. I totally have more ketchup…. *checks the wet drawer in the pantry* Nope. Huh, guess I don’t. Dang it. Now if I want to do any large food runs, I actually take a picture of my pantry and my fridge, so when I’m at the store and think to myself ‘oh gee, I wonder if I have this,’ I literally look at my pictures and see if I do or not. Because how does anyone actually remember absolutely everything that they have? I’m sorry parents I thought you were superhuman.
Speaking of superhuman, how did you keep the house so clean, when I distinctly don’t remember helping with chores very much? A funny story you like to tell is when we were toddlers we used to go around and use our fingers to scratch up carpet lint. So you would vacuum all the time to make sure we didn’t eat random things and literally had nothing to find to put in our mouths. And here I say that 90% of dog parenting is yelling ‘what are you eating!!?’ Sounds not too far from babies. But even when we were older, the house just seemed to magically say clean. I now know that is a lie. That in fact, time and energy are invested into keeping a clean house, not magic.
And let’s talk about that pet you didn’t let me get until the stray cat showed up in our backyard and out of pity you took kitty in. Mom, I vacuum my house just about every 3 days right now, because between the cat and the dog there are little tumbleweeds of fuzz if I don’t keep up on it. I 100% understand you not letting us get a pet as small children.
As awful as we probably thought you were, so much so I guess I put slugs in my pockets to bring home as a pet, I think you made the right call. And I’m sorry that I didn’t understand even 30% of how much work it takes to actually take care of another little living thing. Now that I have my own pets and my own place, I understand what all is involved and I can say with confidence I wasn’t ready to be that committed to un-fun chores for years of my life.
But I think my biggest apology is, I’m sorry I hounded you about not starting those ‘dream’ changes, or those home improvements you talked about doing. Wow, I’m a hypocrite FOR SURE on this one, and now I understand. Living in my place for 2.5 years, there are plenty of things I want to change, update, make a little different. My grandiose plans include Home Depot shopping, cart screen shots, and plenty of nights spent on Google images. Have you seen my Home and Crafty Pants Pinterest boards? Let me tell you, they are pretty fantastic. But that’s exactly it, that’s all they are: they look fantastic. They have not actually made my house look any different. Well, except for a few things. I will give myself credit for the five things I have actually finished out of the tens I have thought of. But actually finding the time, motivation, money, and suppliers to do those things is hard. And living in Juneau doesn’t make it any easier. It’s not a laziness or a commitment factor, but in the scheme of life it’s just not a priority for me right now. When I look at the actual dollar value to things, I have to think if it really should be done or not. Spending $600 on a security system was something that I felt was worth it for my home. So I did it. Because I do have legit fears that one day my house will catch fire and no one will know to save Kiska and Ember. But it’s not the fun and visually appealing changes I want to make. It’s that lame adult choice that helps you sleep better at night but in the morning everything still looks the same.
But I guess I can still look at the same obnoxious heat register covers, the same miss-matched outlet covers for a while longer. Because, I will be living here for some time. And I guess that means that you will still hear about the beautiful new wood doors I want to put in instead of these dreadfully lame white ones. And as you have listened and talked with me while having the patient wisdom I lacked, I’m sorry I wasn’t able to do the same for you. But my goal in life is for personal growth and always striving to be a better person. So thank you mom and dad for tolerating me when I clearly didn’t get it. In the future I will listen with more patience, more understanding, and actually try to be productive and help you.
Courtney Wendel has lived in Juneau since she was a year old. She has a twin brother and an older brother, and learned to enjoy the outdoors at a young age by following the boys into mischief. Graduating from JDHS in 2006, she attended UAS to receive her Literature of the Environment, BA English degree. When not at work she spends most of her time on the diverse trail system hiking, running, or camping with her spotted pooch and adventure buddies.