I don’t know about you, but I was a messy child and teen. Growing up, my room could have been considered a danger zone. It was hard to walk through it without tripping on stuff. Clothes, books, and shoes were strewn everywhere. My mom would ask me to clean my room over and over again, and then—when she couldn’t take it any more—she’d clean it for me. She’d also repeat the same thing each time, “I hate to see what your house is going to be like when you grow up!”
Thankfully, my mom has nothing to worry about. I’ve picked up all her clean-freak tendencies. There are few things I like better than putting the last clean t-shirt into a drawer and knowing all the laundry is washed, dried, and put away. Or seeing my pantry organized, with all the cans displayed by kind, with labels facing out. Our walking out of my kids’ rooms knowing the Legos are with the Legos, and the dolls are with the dolls, and the missing Green Lantern action figure has been reunited with his plastic motorcycle. Ahh. . . .
Unfortunately these aren’t joys I can indulge in often because I have kids!
With kids, there is really no such thing as having all the laundry done. The day I decided to wash all the bedding was the day my 6-year-old daughter got the stomach flu and “anointed” not one, but two beds!
With kids, it only takes two minutes for all the sorted toys to be undone. With kids, my clean house doesn’t stay clean for long. Can anyone say, “muddy tennis shoes on freshly mopped floors”?!
Recently, I had the chance to write the novelization of Moms’ Night Out. I was asked to write a novel from the movie, and as I slipped the pre-released copy into my DVD and started to watch, I couldn’t help but laugh out loud. The opening starts with the thoughts of the lead character, Allyson, going something like this:
It’s 5 a.m. And do you know where your children are? Mine are in bed. I should be in bed. It’s Mother’s Day. But I’m not. Wanna know why? Because I’m a clean freak! I’m talking Freaky Deaky Dutch.
If you were to lock me away in a white room in a straight jacket it would actually feel comforting, as long as the walls were spotless and nobody wore shoes.
Through the movie, I laughed as this frazzled mother tried to maintain hold of her kids, her purpose, and her home. Finally, I thought. Someone I could relate to.
The movie is made for moms just like us. Moms who wouldn’t trade our role—or our kids—for anything, yet still LONG for the day when we can step back from a clean house and whisper, “Done.”
Of course that will never happen. Life, as we learned in Moms’ Night Out, is a beautiful mess. So how do we, as moms, battle this conflict? I’m no expert, but I am a mom.
Here are three ways to embrace messy days.
- Find humor in the craziness of a happy, family home. When the 2-year-old colors his legs completely blue with a marker, I can either laugh or cry. One thing that has helped me to laugh (rather than to rant) is to snap a picture, send it to my husband and a few friends and say, “You’re not going to believe this.”
- Realize that today is the day my kids are making memories. Do I want them to remember me as the stressed-out mom who always yelled because of messes, or a happy mom who learned to go with the flow? I don’t get to pick which of my kids’ memories stick, but I can work to make more happy ones, rather than ones when I’m having a “moment.”
- See stuff as stuff. That oak glide rocker that my son stabbed with his fork? Yeah, I don’t even have that anymore. That blouse that got ruined from a mustard-stained hand … it’s no longer in style. The things we stress about will be yard sale cast-offs 10 years from now. I’m not saying we should give our kids an open invitation to destroy the items in our home, but when things happen (and they will), realize our relationship with our children will outlive all those things by a long shot.
Right now my kids are messy, but it’s my hope they’ll come around, just as I did. In the meantime, God is using this messy season of life to do His work in me. God is teaching me to place my mind on things that will matter for the long-haul.
Yes, there are days when the main bathroom would pass the white-glove inspection, even from my mom, but even on days when it doesn’t, I’m thankful for the life, the laughter, and the chaos in my beautifully messy home.