In the modern vernacular, it can be fairly said that I grew up in a hoarder’s home. Not only am I not ashamed of that, but I am actually quite proud of it; when everything you know and understand about your world becomes your version of normal, the things that everybody else does seem odd, abnormal, and frankly a little weird.

It’s not like we had garbage piled up all over the counters or trash that never got bagged up and taken outside. My grandmother was a depression survivor, a “for the war effort” contributor during WW2, and I can assure you nothing ever got thrown out that could be repurposed for use in the future to confront some, as yet unforeseen, crisis. Every room in the house had aisles, every issue of the Washington Post Sunday paper was stacked according to year of publication, and every National Geographic was organized this way as well. Box after box of neatly packed margarine tubs and lids were stored in the kitchen, paper-covered thin wire, saved from bread loaf packages long ago emptied, balls of tin foil, and God knows how many other sorts of things as these, we’re set aside anywhere in the house where there was room or that made sense to keep together.

We weren’t ashamed to have company over for visits, family over for Thanksgiving, or even the girlfriends my brother and I had as we grew up. The main reason for this was the reality that everyone else in the 50s and 60s, at least us semi-poor Folk anyway, all lived in similar fashions. And it was my brother, speaking at my mother’s memorial service after she passed, who said it best; “we were poor growing up, but we didn’t know it because we never went without anything that we genuinely needed in order to live a whole and happy life.”

One of the countless things my incredibly wise and deeply profound grandmother taught me was the importance of taking good care of what few things we had. Because I was, well, pretty hard on my “stuff”…toys, bicycles, clothes, yard tools… she also instilled in me a more critically important urgency of learning how to fix what I broke or simply dealing with the mess I made of things as a child. I learned, and have been made to painfully re-learn, over and over and over again since I was a child, that sometimes you are going to have to let the carnage your own mistakes have wrought upon the world around you simply wash over you and make do the best you can with what is left over from your own mistakes. As I heard her say quite often, and still hear her in my head all these years since she has passed on, “You broke it, David, you fix it.”

In my new life of always knocking stuff over, always spilling stuff, always breaking stuff, and so on, things happen in my everyday life that confront me with two choices: flail, scream, yell, and have hissy fits, or just let things wash over me and clean up the aftermath of the Carnage. And for what it’s worth, as I was working on this paragraph, pausing it so my grandson could take me on a quick trip to pick up a prescription of mine, I came home to Alice and Emma so excited that they peed in their crate and as I let them out they jumped all over me and all over my bed and – in that instant – I was drowning in dog piss. What do you think I did?

After loving on them, telling them everything was fine, and bathing the three of us with a washcloth (using Irish Spring bar soap) —don’t judge me—it’s all I had at the ready—and when the three of us were cleaned up, loving, hugging, and kissing each other—I gave them lunch, and the three of us laid down for a power nap.

Working toward the clothes here, thinking about all that I have said above, I was reminded of an experience with my oldest child when she was still nursing and what happened when her mother took her out of that little nursing bathtub Gizmo and handed her to me, wrapped up snug as a bug in a rug, to entertain the child while she collected the clean clothes to put on her before putting her in bed. Lifting her up and then back down over my head several times, my mouth open, making baby sounds while she giggled and squealed with joy, I pushed her up one more time, and she emptied her entire stomach contents right into my mouth.

It’s not like there was a damn thing I could do about it. It’s not like I could toss her aside, try to spit as much of it out of my mouth as I could or freak out and start flailing because I would have traumatized the poor thing for the rest of her life and have to watch her sitting across from Oprah, in front of Millions of people. My choice? The only choice I ever had the moment it happened, I just let it wash over me because, as it is with everything else in your life over which you have no control, resistance is inevitably futile, and all you can do is roll with it.

What the hell does all of this have to do with the featured image, you ask?

Now that I am in charge of the equivalent of two Shetland pony-sized goats, Each of which loves chewing everything I own, I have come to terms with my reality that, until they outgrow their mad skills at peeing in my house (thankfully decreasing in frequency as they age), and inventing ever more creative ways to get them to stop eating my bed… Lovingly named Beatrice, which I hope you guys have read about here, all I can do is stay calm, be patient, take each new episode of carnage as it comes, and just let all of it wash over me. There will be plenty of time, later, to fix what I can… And replace whatever might be too far gone.


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