My Kitchen Counter Office

My Kitchen Counter Office
Photo credit: Kourtney Sutton

The biggest success of my day is wiping my kitchen counter. Yes. Spraying my counter with cleaner and taking a towel to it.

I’m not a neat freak or a super clean mama. When I wipe my kitchen counter, I’ve managed to contain the bills, to-do lists, bank deposits, dinner ingredients, tomorrow’s lunch boxes, Legos, kid projects that involve cutting tiny pieces of paper with my vegetable scissors, clothes that don’t fit that are on their way downstairs, homework sheets and take home folders, medications, water bottles, hairbrushes, receipts, charging cords, my unfinished cups of coffee and tea, breast pump parts (especially those stupid Medela membranes), wet dish towels, supplies for the class Halloween party, clean dishes, dirty dishes, and random pieces of clothing, toys and household items that have broken or torn and ended up on the counter in the “Mommy, can you fix this for me?”

Sweet success looks like a kitchen counter that is in a staged for-sale home, when I can see the transition between the counter and the backsplash. Add a candle and a glass of wine to that freshly spritzed counter, my friends, and I feel like a I live a charmed life.

I have an office. Indeed, I have two offices. One of them is quiet and semi-organized in a building with adults flanking me on either side. That office has a desk with a soft chair and a door that closes. The other office is in the basement. It has a desktop computer, bookshelves, organizer drawers, and a filing cabinet. It’s where things go to die.

The magic happens at my kitchen counter, folks.

Life gets real when it expands to the dinner table.

And I have a piece of cutlery close by for anyone who tries to “organize those stacks” for me. I told my husband, “If you touch one of my stacks, you will own every task that is in it.”

He never touches the stacks.

Heaven help the family member that sets a toy or a dish down on the counter in passing, after I’ve sprayed it all the way to the backsplash. The Voice of Mother says, “Where do dirty dishes go??” and “The kitchen counter is not a toy box!” ButthekitchencounterISMOMMY’SOFFICE.

Sometimes the stacks pile into one stack with several sections, and I feel small success that I’ve at least touched the papers and put them in order with all the papers facing the same direction. Then I come across a well-intentioned coupon that expired three months ago or a form from the school about my children’s school pictures that were already taken, and I feel such failure.

I think to myself, “If only I organized my desk, in the basement, these things wouldn’t happen. If only I had a system down there for getting this stuff done, my kitchen counter would be clear.” So I go to the basement, and I organize my desk. Then success looks like the ability to see the wood surface of the desk. I find report cards from last school year, Mother’s Day cards from two years ago, the godforsaken zoo passes that I had to replace for $5 because I couldn’t find them anywhere. Oh well, now we have two copies – but the membership renews in a month.

The desk is clear. Husband comments on how much I must have accomplished because the desk looks great! The next day, the kitchen counter fills up with the stuff of my life. I put my third Keurig cup in the coffee maker (because that was supposed to help with efficiency and cut down my caffeine intake), and I start cleaning my kitchen counter. I can’t wait for the cleaning spray, towel, candle and glass of wine.

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Vanessa Knight has been a part of the Kansas City community for 11 years (a native Texan), living in the Overland Park area with husband Josh, two children (Sophie is 6, Jude is 5), and three Labradors. A clinical marriage and family counselor serving the area, Vanessa works with those who hurt from life experiences, relationships or trauma, helping both individuals and families to love (www.securecounselingclinic.com). When she's not working, Vanessa's favorite stay-at-home things are Sequence, puzzles, picnics on the Nelson-Atkins Museum lawn, messy art projects, and trampoline jumping!