Appearing in various literary forms, writing about organization is all the rage; in fact, it has become a genre. (As I’m writing this, I typed in “organization” to Amazon.com “books” and got over 230,000 results.) For some readers, it is surely a source of help and consolation, yet somehow when I read these articles, I feel more frustrated than comforted.
In fact, sometimes when I read articles about organization, I feel compelled to write rebuttals. But maybe the organizers and I can find some common ground. To all you organizers out there, can you please write an organization book for me? To help you get started, I have some questions.
1. When should I start getting ready for Sunday Mass?
After Sunday Liturgy, people sometimes look with wonder at our gaggle of children and ask: “When do you start getting ready for Church?”
My answer: “Tuesday.”
After my response, they look to the side and laugh a little; then they look back at me and notice that I’m not laughing. Then they abruptly stop laughing and change to a look of confusion, mixed with a dose of fear.
Dressing up for church takes five days. There’s the laundry day. There’s the sorting day. There’s the finding shoes day. Then there’s the panic day. That’s the day we realize that our kids lost their church clothes and played in the mud in their dress shoes. I tried to hose off the mud from their dress shoes, but I left them outside and somehow one got lost. I’d like to blame our dog, but cocker spaniels never look guilty. Which brings us to the shopping day.
With minor nuances, this is pretty much how it goes every week.
And getting ready for liturgy is only part of the equation. Getting to liturgy is challenging as well. Since we are in that tiny minority of Ruthenian Byzantine Catholics, we drive an hour each way to church; and because Demetrius and Tarcisius often serve liturgy and need to get there early, we (try to) leave ninety minutes early.
And we take two cars. That’s 250 miles of driving every Sunday.Organizers, should I be doing something differently?
2. How do I deal with the unforeseen?
This past Easter, my four-year-old daughter, Immaculata, graciously gave me some of the chocolate from her Easter basket, which I proceeded to put in my pants pocket. Shortly thereafter, I put my cell phone in the same pocket. Needless to say, the chocolate melted through the foil and into the earpiece on my phone and I still can’t hear on it. Modern parlance has given us the term “eye-candy.” I refer to this as “ear-candy.”
M & M’s used to have a slogan: “Melts in your mouth. Not in your hands.”
Great slogan, but here’s a better one. “Melts in your mouth. Not in your iPhone.”
That means that all my conversations lately have taken place on “speakerphone.” That can be a little awkward. A few days ago, a client called and asked if I could take the call off speakerphone. Of course I couldn’t, so I explained why this was the case. That explanation was followed by a long pause on the other end of the phone. I’m guessing that this was not good. Organizers, should I buy a new phone, or just buy pants with more pockets?
3. What is a closet for?
I asked Lisa if I could have a man-cave. She said a “cave” was out of the question because of our limited space, but I could have a “man-closet.” Yes, in retrospect, I guess a cave was too much to ask for. I am officially falling short of Neanderthal standards. For a few weeks, I had my own walk-in closet, but alas, it was too beautiful to last. It became the shoe closet. Although I haven’t done a formal count, we must have over 200 shoes, sandals, boots, and baseball cleats in that closet. Incredibly, none of them fit anyone on earth. Yet, somehow, we tenaciously believe that we will need them one day.
Organizers, do other people use closets this way, and is there any chance that I will ever have a man-cave?
4. For organizational purposes, do you recommend bi-location or time travel?
One night last week, Lisa and I had to be in Washington D.C., while Athanasius had to work in the Christendom library, Tarcisius and Demetrius needed to be at the basketball gym, and Philomena and Dominica had a practice to get to on the other side of town, and Veronica couldn’t babysit her brothers and sisters because she had previous engagements. That left us with three or four places to be at one time. This is pretty common for us. Organizers, bi-location seems like the easier thing to do, but time travel would offer some unique advantages. For your clients, which do you recommend?
At the end of the day (both literally and figuratively) some things cannot be organized. Some things in life don’t lend themselves to organization. Not everything can be anticipated. Life is lived on the fly. And many of us are just trying to get through the day—faith, hope, and charity intact. If you can do that, don’t kick yourself for being disorganized. And most of all: DON’T GIVE UP HOMESCHOOLING BECAUSE YOU CAN’T GET ORGANIZED!!!!
Whether organizers or disorganizers, maybe we should say the following prayer together, which I mostly plagiarized from someone more organized than myself. It goes this like:
Please give me the strength to organize the things I can.
The peace to accept the things I cannot.
And the wisdom to know the difference.