Yesterday I cleaned my butt off; like I do at least once a week. Sure, I do a pretty good job of keeping up with the day to day tasks like dishes, sweeping, and general tidiness. I’m talking I was on my hands and knees, breaking a sweat and wondering how in the world my kids get toothpaste on the bathroom door. I contemplated just what I had done so wrong in life to deserve the permanent fate of having to scrub walls while yelling things like, “Who lives like this!?!” Then, as I opened my fridge to put away yet another opened container that was left for dead on the countertop, I couldn’t help but notice this brown, chunky film that had gathered in one of the shelves. That’s when it hit me. People would come to our home, see this pile of mystery crust hanging out in my fridge and they would think, “Good heavens…what does this woman do all day? Isn’t she a stay at home mom?” Then they would start politely declining my offers for a beverage or anything else that may have spent too much time in the fridge and then they would find a way to gracefully exit as quickly as possible. Feeling defeated, exhausted, and dirty I started to think about what I could do to avoid these deep cleans of mine. Then I thought up a solution. Four solutions to be exact. Four ways I could have a spotless home. But…I don’t want to do any of them.
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There are those people in life who live freely without children. They are free to pursue their dreams and ambitions and live a care free, dinge free life. Ahhh how magnificent. Yes, there are people who chose this path for themselves. A life free from little ones was in their plans. They knew their refridgerator would take a hit otherwise.
Then my mind drifted to those who didn’t choose this path. Those people who live with the pain of a lost child, or the sadness of knowing it’s just not possible. That heartache would be worse than scrubbing mystery stains off light switches or finding a moldy half eaten apple in the toy bin. For sure.
But I know, neither of these paths were meant for me. These children are mine. I was so fortunate to have no problems conceiving. The little ones were both born healthy and the older two are a gift I can’t believe I was given. These four are my greatest gift and I claim them proudly. Most days.
I don’t know about you, but most days I am just trying to keep my head on strait. Like, literally. Yes, people play it fast and loose with the word, “literally” but I totally mean it. Running the blog (which is basically the one thing that keeps me sane,) homeschooling the little ones, trying to stay fit, keep a clean house, stick to a budget, make all my food from scratch and be everyone’s personal counselor is enough to literally make a head spin.
Call me crazy, but I just don’t have time in between all of that to live in a museum of a home. Sure, I could put more energy toward keeping my house spick and span but what would I have to give up? My health? My kid’s health? Their education? My freedom? Yeah, I’ll take a hard pass on that.
Speaking of clean eating, I was a food blogger once upon a time. — I wonder if the fact that I cooked things like I was in a race, snapped pictures immediately before serving the food and wrote the ingredients on a used calendar page has anything to do with
why that fizzled out for me? Trust me, I love a good staged food photo more than the next guy but I really started to feel like that was just one more mess to clean up!
When life feels overwhelming, sometimes you just have to stop making time for the things that you don’t really need. In fact, they may even be holding you back. If I spent all these years scrubbing, cleaning, and aiming for perfection, I would miss out on a lot of the little imperfect moments around me.
Check out some of my “ghost recipes”
Tom grew up with a dad that did not let them make messes. Mud was off limits, quarters had to bounce off their beds and even breathing in the car was limited to avoid window fog. Due to this super fun-filled childhood (yes, I’m being sarcastic) Tom now hangs his clothes by category, color and spaces them exactly a finger’s width apart. It’s surreal. However, he also encourages our kids to play hard and get messy. He doesn’t care about clothes getting ruined or how hard I have to work to clean up muddy footprints across the kitchen floor. It’s totally worth it.
The truth is, I see mess making in kids as a huge sign of creativity. It’s how they learn about the world around them. I encourage messes so much, I have tested out some of the following in the last 8 years of raising the little ones at home:
These things all made messes…huge messes. I cleaned and scrubbed and swept every day because of the crafts I’ve allow to go down. Don’t get me wrong, the kids help me out and are learning to clean up after themselves but they are still learning after all. Yet again, I wouldn’t give up a single one of those messes. I wouldn’t skip a single day of seeing what my son creates from an old egg carton and a popcorn tub. Seeing my daughter fill the counters with her smeared frosting from her very own cupcakes is an adventure I will happily soak in again and again. They really are making memories, and building their creativity. I think that takes a backseat to a perfectly polished home.
Then there are the empty nesters. I keep hearing about how great of a time this is and I totally believe it, but I try not to live wanting it. This year, at Christmas, as we decorated the tree with tacky decorations and my kids made paper snowflakes, I had a moment of pause. I paused to imagine what decorating the tree would feel like if those random ornaments weren’t a part of it. Maybe I could have a beautiful, magazine worthy tree…but would I even enjoy decorating it without all those little hands helping me? I really don’t think so. It would lose it’s luster. Some of the Christmas magic would be gone. I may even turn into the person who just props a 2 foot tree on a coffee table and calls it a day. That time will come. I know it will. But I don’t want it now.
I want the mess. I want the chaos. I want the memories. And possibly a maid service.