I love a clean house. I cherish those few moments after cleaning when everything is put away in its rightful place, where the floors don’t have any muddy paw prints and there aren’t any remnants of sticky, syrupy finger prints on the table, counters, fridge, and walls.
Those moments after cleaning are fleeting as I have a husband, dog, and two beautiful but messy kids. Unfortunately they don’t share my desire to have a clutter free house that smells of incense and has soothing music playing softly in the background.
Instead my house usually looks like a lego bomb recently went off in our living room and beanie boos have not only outnumbered us, they will soon need to inhabit our spare bedroom as their own living quarters. As a sweet little five year old shared with me last week during a playdate, “you have a really messy house!”.
The irony, however, is that as I look around my cluttered and well-lived-in home, I am filled with gratitude. I see the current phase of life that I am in, a busy mom with two active and imaginative kids who thrive in an environment full of toys, crafts, an army of beanie boos, and hundreds of legos. I see abundance. I am grateful that we have the space to spread out as a family so that we can explore our own identities yet come together on our not-so-perfect (read: stained and full of dog hair) couch to snuggle in and read a book or watch a movie.
My kitchen cabinets are overflowing with taped and overlapping pictures, drawings, and reminders about after school activities. Every once in awhile I clean off the counters, take the pictures down, work tirelessly to declutter and find a home for all the toys, so that I can have a glimpse of what it would feel like to inhabit a calm and simplified home.
What I find though, is that it then feels empty to me. Not because of the lack of “stuff”, I can do without all of that. But I realize that I miss the messiness of the life I am currently living. The reality is that life isn’t perfect, it doesn’t go smoothly all the time (or ever), and well laid plans don’t usually work out the way you had anticipated. I also know that the stage I am in right now won’t last forever. Every day things change, evolve, and transform. My kids are slowly growing up and some day I know I will miss their messiness, their toys and imaginative play, and their “I love you” artwork and cards.
So anytime I feel overwhelmed by the state of affairs as I look around my living room and can see a floor full of toys, I resolve to accept and embrace the messy but beautiful life that I am currently blessed with. I know that some day in the not so distant future, as my kids head off to college, the army, or my basement, I will miss looking around my house and seeing their footprint (and handprints, for that matter).
My mom recently shared with me that one of her regrets as a parent was that she spent way too much time worrying about the cleanliness of her house. She told me how proud she was that I allow my kids to dump out their lego bins all over the floor so that they can explore, build, and create. She sees me being with my kids and allowing them to be kids, not expecting them to have the same standard of cleanliness as us adults.
And, that makes my heart swell more than anything. That my messy house can be a point of pride for my mom and my kids grandma, makes me feel as though I might actually be getting something in this whole parenting journey right.
It isn’t always easy but I’m working every day to continue to embrace my messy home and my messy life. So, be forewarned, if you stop by for a visit, be very careful that you don’t step on a lego barefoot. And, you are welcome to find a spot on the floor and take a few moments out of your busy life to have some fun, dream, explore and remember what it was like to be a child.