Futzing and Other Mom Activities

Futzing:  defined as wasting time, idle or busy oneself aimlessly. In my house, it’s defined as walking in a manner which appears to be “wandering aimlessly” from spot to spot in your house picking up and putting away, moving, or otherwise taking items from one place and placing them in their correct and proper home. This alternate definition is a conglomeration of what I actually do and what my husband perceives that I do.  If you are anything like me, and I venture that most Moms are, you walk in the door to your house after work, or really any activity that has you out of the house for several hours, and it’s like you are playing “Where’s Waldo?” Except in this case it’s “Where’s the Mess?” or “What is Wrong With this Picture?”  A Mom’s very own living and breathing, hell on earth, Highlights Magazine activity.

Futzing is an art for me, and I am rarely done with my painting. Why, you ask? Because I have 3 children and a husband that live in my house. Enough said. I am not neurotic about it, but once I see something out of place, I can’t UNSEE it. It has to be taken care of.  Ok, maybe that is how you define neurotic.  I’ve been called worse.

It feels like I am the Predator, you know that movie? The alien has heat sensing vision so that he can see and kill his prey.  I am the alien with mess sensing powers (totally wish I had some other super power, like maybe I could turn dust bunnies into cash). Anyhow, it starts with the shoe cubby as I walk thru the front door. Typically most of the shoes are put away into the little boxes, but of course, it’s just easier to kick them off and leave them mere INCHES from their actual cubby home. Riiiiiiight. Bend down, pick up and put away. Then my vision settles on the living room to the couch pillows on the floor, the cups, bowls and wrappers from after school snacks, probably some socks, jackets and periodically a body or 2. I circle the coffee table, grabbing everything on my pass thru, kiss any lounging kids, put pillows back on the couch, gather dirty clothes in one arm and trash in the other. I make my way to the kitchen to drop off the dishes and trash and my purse and work bag that I am STILL carrying then go back towards bedrooms and drop off dirty clothes. It’s really quite graceful.

This is only the futzing that happens right after work. There is continuous futzing throughout the rest of the evening. Brendan will yell from the couch, “Nice Futz, Honey!” cheering me on. I am just not relaxed completely when things are not in their proper place. I literally find it hard to sit down and zone out if the kitchen isn’t tidied up, if there is random shit lying around on the floor. Damn cats NEVER stay where I put them. When I cook, I put stuff away as I go, whereas Brendan thinks “bigger mess, better meal.” He does clean up when he’s done though, so no complaints there. He even cleans the stove top, which I LOATHE, so he gets bonus points for that 🙂 I rarely will go from one spot in the house to another without taking care of something along the path. Typically 2 or 3 things.  And it is mindless, I just do it. And it probably explains why I forget what I actually wanted to do in the first place once I reach my destination!  I don’t get angry about it (unless I am first angry about something else, then there is carryover. Not my fault.) I actually feel good after doing it. More settled, like I have a better chance of getting into heaven if I get this paperwork put away. Right or wrong, who knows. It just needs to get done.

Another example… Brendan’s thing is not shutting his dresser drawers all the way. I seriously think he closes them 90% of the way JUST so he can watch me close them the remaining 10% of the way.  Does it NEED to be shut all the way for the world to keep spinning on its axis?  No, but don’t you think you’ll feel better if it IS shut all the way?  I know I will feel better. Just shut the drawer.  MOVE, I’ll do it!

Until recently, I was convinced the kids simply don’t register the problem. It’s not even on their radar. Do the smaller human beings in my house just not SEE the stuff that needs futzed? What appears to me as small fires scattered around my house that need putting out, are simply part of the decor to them. When Architectural Digest visits my home one day, this is how it will play out–Why yes, Mrs. Arble, we love the Italian Renaissance Dirty Sock and Nutri-Grain bar wrapper style you have going on here.  And the classic Towel Strewn on the Floor rustic theme in the bathroom just accents it beautifully!  How ever did you come up with these ideas?

The boys are so singly focused. Eat, watch TV, Twitter, Instragram, homework, whatever. I’ve seen them make an ice cream shake and leave a dirty blender, melting ice cream, chocolate sauce, dirty spoon and milk on the counter, while they float off to la-la land enjoying their creation. They just focus on THEIR world, not all the white noise stuff that Mom takes care of. Because they know the magic futzing fairy will come by and clean up what’s left in their wake (see previous Mom enables kids post). Like a tsunami and I am the Red Cross. Although USUALLY with a quiet reminder, they will come back and clean up quickly. As a Mom, I guess I don’t need a reminder, it’s auto-pilot futzing.  See=Do.

UNTIL recently. There is hope, my friends. I saw Riley futz. I almost cried. It appeared to be an absent minded putting away of some water bottles and pushing in a chair on the way by. It was GLORIOUS! I ran downstairs and told Brendan
“Riley is futzing, Riley is futzing!”  Granted he is the cleanest of the 3 boys in general, but I feel like we really turned a corner here, people.

So maybe it just comes with age, an awareness of the people and things around you as you become less self absorbed. For example, I’ve found that kids are much more aware of your driving once THEY are drivers (damnit). Kids will imitate what they see their parents do more than what they say, for better or worse. So I will happily keep futzing away, moving, wiping, cleaning, shifting, doing my little futzing dance, knowing full well, the second I turn my back, it will all spring out of its happy little home and need to be futzed again. Because maybe one day I will have 3 little futzers of my very own.


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