I had perused minimalist websites and simplifying blogs for inspiration, developed an idea for how our home could look, and dreamed of clutter-free kitchen counters and sparkling bare floors. With great gusto, I sorted, purged, donated, repurposed, and organized.
The kitchen clutter became my daily enemy. Multiple times a day I would wipe, dry, put away, wipe, dry, put away. I could hardly get a handle on it. In one fell swoop, with laundry basket in hand, I’d scurry through the house picking up odds and ends and return them to their appropriate places.
As the clutter hardly seemed to budge, I tried to instill designated clean-up times for the kids, to no avail. I tried a firmer foot, but felt like the mean mom/wife. So I gave up family time, as my children enjoyed swimming and get ready for that fishing trip, so I could pick up and put away messes. And I rewrote my schedule to help stay ”on top” of things.
Then one afternoon as I walked from the kitchen toward our bedroom, I stopped short when I noticed what graced the floor: A stuffed whale, a red remote control, a stack of books (that I was sorting through to donate), a blue balloon, shoes and dirty socks, a baby doll, stickers that were stuck to the tile, three bracelets, two teacups, and Spiderman. I didn’t dare look left to see what was accumulating on our dining room table.
Like a brick wall, it hit me: this is my life. This is real. This is my current season.
This ‘mess’ is my children in action. Fingerprints smudge our front window where the kids wave and shout goodbye to Papa as he leaves for work. Spills of milk, cereal, and yogurt take their place on our kitchen counter as breakfast is served to sleepy smiles in Spiderman and flowery jammies. A glance out the backyard window provides a view of an array of buckets, shovels, bubble blowers, and balls–all used at some point earlier in the day.
It isn’t all mess. These are memories in the making.
I do believe our family functions better when our lives are organized and our clutter is minimized. The kids play better when the playroom is picked up. I work better when my desk is clean. The kitchen is more enjoyable when the spaces are cleared. Yet on that warm April afternoon, I was given a new perspective: Embrace this season.
Sure, I’ll teach the kids to pick up more often, request my husband’s help, and find a balanced schedule. But at the end of the day, I don’t want to miss out on making memories because I was keeping a clean house.
As their wings grow and they leave the nest, I don’t want my kids to remember me as a mom whose hands were always in the sink or carrying a dust rag. I want my kids to proudly say, “She was the coolest mom ever. She spent her time living life, exploring the world with us. She laughed a lot. She was spontaneous–a free spirit who got muddy, climbed trees, and played superheroes.”
It is all about balance, but each day I try to be mindful of letting go and embracing what is most important. The mess comes and goes throughout the day, yet my children are here for only a short time.
Step-by- step, I am becoming more organized. Step-by-step, I am learning to live life.
QUESTION: How do you balance mess and motherhood?
CHALLENGE: Read the poem “I Took His Hand and Followed” by Mrs. Roy L. Piefer. The next time your child requests your attention, take a moment to stop the task at hand and join in. The chores will always be there. Go and make a memory!
Image provided by Meg Magnusson.