"Be honest, you are a messy person in general." I could tell he was watching the words slowly leave his mouth as if they were being physically written in the air like a painfully cliche airplane sky writing proposal. I'm sure he was wishing he could grab those words, pull them back and shove them into his mouth before they reached my ears. If the regret of speaking that phrase didn't kill him, my "oh, heeeeeellllll no" stare would probably do the job.
Bless him. In a rare moment of weakness, my usually carefully spoken husband, who happens to be my greatest champion and supporter, accidentally let that sentence leave his brain through his mouth. The thing is, he isn't wrong. I am a messy person in general. I'm not the most messy person (which I like to remind him of as I show him clips of local news interviews and episodes of Hoarder's proving to him that I have it more together than some people). However, I am not the type of person who has a mini orgasm when my Container Store catalog arrives in the mail.
If you stay home with kids, you know that you could conceivably spend every second of every single day picking crap up. Like somedays, literal crap. When you aren't picking up stuff (whether it belongs to you or your offspring), you are following tiny humans around, telling them to pick up before they move on to the next mess they will inevitably make.
So, instead of spending my day doing one of my least favorite activities, I just don't.
That's it. It is a choice. I know we all have the same amount of hours in a day and so it can feel discouraging when we scroll through our instagram feed and see another mom with twice as many kids in a home that is neat and tidy and perfectly styled, while I'm looking at my home seeing my nice(ish) throw pillows lined up across my living room floor in a perfect walkway to keep my children from falling in hot lava. I know I could walk over there right now and pick those up. It would only take me a moment, but I also know that as soon as my kids are up from nap, we will resume our game of "hot lava" and those will be right back on the floor.
I'm not sure when we got this idea in our culture that moms of littles had to keep a tidy household all the time while they raise their children. Who said that had to be a part of our calling? As if tidiness was the outward reflection of our commitment to parenting. It's not. There is no such correlation.
Our job as mothers is not to be tidy, but to be present.
Your kids don't care how messy your house is. They do, however, care if you are sitting with them and playing with them or reading to them or telling them a story. Our job as mothers is not to seem put together (while sites like Pinterest and Instagram or Facebook may encourage otherwise). Our job is to be present. Our job is to listen. Our job is to be patient. I don't know about you, but for me it is mighty challenging to be present and listen and be patient with my kids if I am constantly thinking about how their game is going to make such a mess or if I am considering my finite number of minutes in each day and choose to clean instead of listening intently to their story for the umpteenth time.
I wish I had some sexier advice or tips on how to stay organized and cool with toddlers, but really sometimes you just have to lean into it. I could spend every moment of these years picking up in the name of having an instagram-worthy life or I could sit on the floor with those tiny humans I created and experience their imaginations first hand. Being a mom is hard, but it is hella fun if you lean into it.
Messy is not just okay, it's normal
I love the quote by Steven Furtick (whoever that is) "Do not compare your behind-the-scenes with somebody else's highlight reel." Mama, I need you to know that the mess is not just okay, but that it's normal. I urge you to let go of the idea that you are less-than just because the sink is full of dishes, your toys are unorganized and your laundry is sorted in a dirty mountain and clean mountain.
Yes, there is something to be said about having a clean and tidy house. It's peaceful, so I try to have a fully picked up house a couple times a week, but most of my life doesn't happen during those 3-5 hours in my week. Most of my life happens during the other hours, when my house is messy. When my kids are jumping on their unmade beds and throwing their stuffed animals at each other's heads as we all laugh our asses off. Most of my life is a mess. A great big pile of joy mixed with make-believe with some tears and occasionally some poop sprinkled in there.
If this post encouraged you, I would be grateful for you to share it with someone else who needs to know that a mess is okay. Tweet, Pin, Facebook or whatever works for you. The best mothering happens in the mess, after all.