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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Embracing the Messy

I’ve never been one to have it all together, even though I’d like to pretend I do. The snapshots of the recipes I prepare and share with you here don’t show the short tempers I have with my toddler who beckons for every minute of my attention as I chop, whisk, stir, mince, and sauté.

My desk space seems so neat and orderly when posed for a photo shoot. Just wait until midweek and you’ll see what appears to be the landing dock of receipts, papers, empty coffee mugs, and broken toys in need of repair.

If you were to tell me that you wanted to stop by my house, I would quickly reply “Sure! Come on over. No, it’s totally not a bad time. See you in a bit!” Then, I would end the call and do a quick scan of the house and straighten up anything that seemed out of place. Heaven forbid you come over and see that ::gasp:: I don’t keep my house spotless throughout the day. I mean, if I’m not keeping the house in order, what am I doing all day??

I’ll tell you what I’m doing. Actually, I need to tell myself what I’m doing all day so this can serve as a reminder to me and any other mom with children at home, no matter their age. A reminder that sometimes the day-to-day grind and routine gets messy, but that doesn’t mean you’re slacking or being lazy. More often than not, it means you’re doing something far more important. You may have chosen playing with your child, having time to yourself (to keep you from going insane and taking it out on your family later), catching up with a good friend, or if you have a newborn, spending what little free time you get taking a shower and/or a nap (probably not both…and most likely the nap will always win).

Most days, I’m waking up earlier than I want to a little guy pulling my hand until my arm is stretched out because he wants me to come assemble his train set. I’m not a morning person. I can’t even pretend to be. The thought of doing anything more than sipping my coffee is so draining. But for such a cute little wide-eyed face, I go above and beyond my normal morning keep-quiet-and-don’t-bother-me-until-this-coffee-mug-is-empty routine.

Within the first hour of the start of our day, I see the trail a little toddler has left behind as I walk through the house. A sippy cup knocked over with milk dripping out on the floor. The rest of his breakfast smooshed and smeared on the chair. Toy cars are here and there and everywhere (usually I find them in my purse, closet, or kitchen cabinets later in the day). All of his chalk is poured onto the floor after he made some art on his chalkboard wall. Pieces of play dough are sprinkled on the floor around the kitchen table.

I could probably spend my whole day following him around and cleaning up his mess. After all, if I did so, I would always be prepared if a guest stopped by the house and my home would always look ready to appear in Better Homes and Gardens (snort).

Or, I could embrace the messy.

I could look around my house and see a little boy who apparently loves to explore and play and pretend. I could look at the dishes piled in the sink and remember that those are there because I successfully cooked a meal that my family enjoyed. There’s no need for condemnation (both from others and from myself) just because I didn’t immediately hide the fact that I cooked a homemade meal that required making a slight mess in the kitchen. If the dishes aren’t done because a more rewarding opportunity arises with friends and family, so be it. Dirty dishes can do nothing else but wait. People move and grow and change.  Sometimes, embracing the messiness allows you to enjoy something else, like the company of another, a moment to sit on the couch with your husband and enjoy a movie, or play a fun game with your child. Don’t overlook those special moments because all you see is a messy house. Unlike the dishes, those moments aren’t always going to be sitting there, waiting for you to return.

If you have an unexpected guest, don’t feel ashamed that they’re entering a house that looks lived in, and for that matter, looks like a place where children live. Instead, let people know what you’ve been up to that day as you walk to a place to sit and chat. Talk about how you just tried out a new casserole recipe for breakfast as you pass by the kitchen, still in a state of disarray. Tell them that they just missed you wearing a tutu and a tiara while taking care of “the queen’s baby princess” as you walk passed dress up clothes and baby dolls strewn about the living room. If they can’t sit with you at the kitchen table because your child has dominated it with their science project, find somewhere else to sit, no big deal. Just don’t feel like there’s any need to apologize. Chances are, your guest probably didn’t leave their home spotless before they came over to visit you.

It’s so much more relatable to hear about someone’s day and actually see the proof throughout their house than to hear about all they did and see not one trace that it ever happened. Life is messy. Children are messy. Learning and playing and having fun sometimes leads to making a mess.

I know we all want to be Super Mommy and it’s praiseworthy for a mom to strive to be her best and work hard at making a house a home. But there’s something even more amazing than being a Super Mommy and that’s being a mom who knows that she can’t do it all on her own and relies on a super God. He is able to give you the time you need each day for the things He wants you to do. Some days, there might not be time to clean up the mess because that time was meant for something or someone else. I'm all for a clean and organized home. I've even written posts about it here on this very blog. But sometimes you just have to embrace the mess and give yourself grace. After all, no one reflects back on their life and thinks, "If only I had done the dishes more frequently."

This is day 1 of my new series:

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  1. Great post !!! Love the quote from the unknown author ;)
    Have a great day!

    PS. your post should be ON my blog today! :)
    I'll tell you when it's ready!


    1. Thanks Iris! I like the quote too. I even tried to find out if the author was known somewhere and had a name... but no luck. Then, I briefly thought about just sticking my name at the bottom and adopting it as my own, but I decided against that idea ;-)

  • Pinned! I love this post and I totally embrace this. It's how I think too, though I think my mom isn't thrilled that I don't do more to clean up at times. If you have time, every Friday I host a link party with over 100 bloggers, 800+ readers and 700+ subscribers called Family Fun Friday. I'd love it if you'd share this post. I'm a leader in a MOPS group and my readers are young moms with young kids. The party grows every week - I hope you can join in on the fun!

    1. Thanks for the comment AND the pin, Monica! And I'd love to add that party to my list, thanks for telling me about it! My family and I just returned from some travels so I'll be sure to link up this upcoming Friday :-)