One day when I had just vacuumed the living room and the floor was still cleared of all the usual clutter of toys and debris, Bella declared that it looked like a desert. I later found out that she liked it that way, it wasn’t meant as a pejorative. But I thought of that again this morning as I vacuumed. I’m making a desert. And then because Dom and I had been talking about the ancient Romans and military tactics over breakfast, suddenly I recalled the famous words of the Roman historian Tacitus: “they make a desert and call it peace.”
Oh yes, that speaks so perfectly to the great tension in my life: if the house is very clean, I’ve probably been ignoring the kids and their needs. So it may be desert-beautiful but if it stays that way then it isn’t a place that nourishes life. Life with kids is messy. That’s why the living room was in the state it was this morning, we’d been so busy all weekend I hadn’t had time to clean. Of course, if the house gets too messy then I’m also not very peaceful.
And that’s about the extent of my meditations on Tacitus and housework.