My daughters both had birthdays in the last week of December, so this past weekend, they had their birthday party.  I’m not sure what madness prompted me to tell them they could have a sleepover too…

I’ve spent the last week trying to de-clutter and clean the house.  I tried to get the girls to help in the evenings, but with me having plans almost every evening, the girls were spending most of their evenings at my moms house, and by the time we got home, it was time for bed.  So not much got done (by them) until Friday evening.

It’s like pulling teeth to get them to do anything.  I had gotten their shared bedroom about 95% done.  There were still some things on the floor and a MOUND of stuffed animals that needed to be dealt with.  I’d bought 36 clothespins and told my youngest she could use them to clip some of her stuffed animals to the chain for the ceiling fan / light fixture.  I truly didn’t realize she had THAT many stuffed animals – she used all 36 pins and still had easily an equal number of stuffed animals still sitting on her bed (where I’d tossed them as I uncovered them in the room).  Fortunately, I had 3 bins that fit under her bed, so several of them went in there, finally leaving enough room on the bed for her to actually sleep.

Meanwhile, my eldest was moping and sullenly taking any direction I gave her and doing the very least amount of work possible to get it approximately done (“good enough” were the words that came out of her mouth more than once), claiming that she was just “so tired…”  I reminded her that most of this mess was THEIRS, and that this party was for THEM.  I also reminded her that I’d agreed to possibly help her buy the video game she wanted if I got her cooperation on this – something she’d been seemingly eager to agree to a week earlier.

We got as much done as possible on Friday night, and I woke them up at 9 on Saturday morning to get back to it.  I had to redirect my eldest to the bathroom at least 3 times after her initial attempt.

“There’s still stuff on the floor, B…”

“Ugggghh!  There’s not that much!”

“Yes, there is, right there, on the floor behind the toilet.”

“Argh!  Nobody’s going to notice that – it’s hardly noticeable at all.”

“I noticed it…”

“That’s because you were LOOKING for it!”

“No, it’s because it’s noticeable.”

“Gah!  Fine!  There!  How’s that?  Are you happy now???”

“Well, no, not really – see, there’s still that stuff…”

“It’s stuck to the floor!”

“Well, then, get something to scrape it up.”

“NO!  I am NOT reaching down there with my hands!!!”

That’s a small sample of what my day looked like, but I was determined.  I’m tired of living in all that clutter – it drains my energy.  Meanwhile, I was still sorting through piles of clothing – one bag for the laundry and one bag for Goodwill, another bag for the laundry and another bag for Goodwill.  I ended up taking 5 MORE full garbage bags of clothing to Goodwill that afternoon (so far, that’s 10 bags of clothing, and I’m sure there’s probably more to go still).

At last, I felt like the place was presentable, and literally at the very last moment I was still sweeping up dog fur (I can sweep that hard floor 6 times a day and still need to sweep it 6 more times – any time the dog walks through, she leaves fur behind).

The first guest arrived about a half-hour early, and the rest trickled in over the next hour and a half.  Charcoal was lit and eventually ready for cooking.  Hamburger patties were pressed, hot dogs were unwrapped, and I got to cooking dinner.  Once dinner was served and all 13 girls had filled their plates with food, I calmly prepared my own dinner and poured myself a glass of wine.  Ah!

This was about the time (maybe 7pm by then? I’m not really sure of the time beyond that point) that the Wii got fired up, and several of the younger girls chose the Beatles Rock Band game.  Little did I know that this game would continue running until at least midnight.  I love the Beatles, really I do, but the same 7 or 8 songs played over and over and over and over and over tend to wear just a little bit…

The work didn’t end there, because I still hadn’t managed to get the cupcakes baked.  So I did a little bit of cleanup from dinner and started baking!  2 batches of 2 dozen cupcakes each.  Once those were baked, cooled and iced, it was finally time for the girls to unwrap their presents.  I’m not sure how I managed to impose any sense of order on that process, but I was actually able to write down every gift – what it was, for whom it was intended, and from whom it came.  Whew!  And then the girls were able to eat the cupcakes.

While cupcakes were being consumed, I quietly cleaned up the mess of wrapping paper and tissue paper, and started clearing empty soda cans and plates.  I think that overall, I did a pretty good job of keeping the trash clutter to a minimum as the party went on, and really, most of the girls were pretty good about putting their cans into the recycling bin themselves, or putting their plates and cupcake wrappers into the trash.

I only had 2 more glasses of wine through the course of the evening, sipping it slowly as I tried to be unobtrusive but present enough in case anybody needed anything (like a band-aid for a bruised knuckle, or a hand-wash for a shirt and bag that got soda spilled on it, or a check of the neighborhood listserv to see if anybody has lost the dog the girls found wandering by on the street…).  I started winding down around 1, and told everybody goodnight before crawling into bed.  Excited teenage conversation (read: loud) in the living room kept me from slumber for a while, but then again, so did the loud purring of my kitty, who was relieved to be getting some attention after a rather stressful afternoon and evening of hiding from so many loud strangers.

I set my alarm for 8am, and got up to make muffins for breakfast (I had considered waffles and bacon, but that would take entirely TOO long for that many girls), then went back to bed and dozed most of the rest of the morning away, in spite of the fact that The Beatles were once again being featured on our Wii starting at about 9am.  The first parent arrived at 11am, and the rest of the girls drifted away over the next 2 hours, leaving the house feeling Too Quiet and all of its occupants wandering around in a state sort of approximating shell shock (including the animals – the cats finally deigned to make an appearance, the dogs collapsed, and the ferrets seemed confused about why they weren’t getting as much attention as they had for the previous 20 hours).  We all had a lot of fun, but it was certainly quite chaotic and even my older daughter agreed that it was overwhelming at times.

It was an interesting experiment, but I think maybe from now one we’ll keep our sleepovers limited to a maximum of 2 friends for each girl, and maybe not both girls on the same night!  And about that video game for my eldest?  She asked me last night if she’d done enough work to earn it.  I turned it around and asked her if she thought she’d done enough work, and had a good enough attitude about it.  She reluctantly mumbled “no,” and offered an apology.

At least my house is still in presentable order, and I have every intention of keeping it that way!  I’m the one who must be vigilant, and remind the girls to clean up their messes as they go (while doing the same myself) so it doesn’t creep up on us as it always seems to.  I’ve still got a LOT of laundry to do, but that’s one of those never-ending chores, along with dishes.  If I can do one load every day, I ought to be able to gain some ground and keep things at an acceptable level.  It should be a bit easier now that I’ve gotten rid of so much clothing (with plans to get rid of a lot more).

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