As I write this, I’m sitting in my living room. There’s an overflowing tub of shoes by the front door, a desk that is filled with toppling piles of papers, and toys scattered across the floor. Propped against the wall, there’s an unopened package that was delivered over a week ago and our double stroller that is waiting to be returned to our minivan. That’s just the beginning. The windows and mirrors need cleaning. The floor needs vacuuming. All of the surfaces in the room need a dusting. We lost the remote to the BluRay player months ago. (Recently, we did find the TV remote which had been lost for over a year.) In the bedroom, mountains of clean clothes wait to be folded, and in the kitchen, piles of dirty dishes wait to be washed. Don’t get me started on the kids’ room and the bathrooms.
Our house is a mess, and it’s my fault. I mean, it is true that our house is small and that we are a family of five. It is true that my husband and our children could help me more. But, it is also true that I was messy long before I had kids. The difference, however, is that with age and maturity, I don’t actually want to be messy anymore. When I was younger, I thought, “Life’s too short for cleaning.” Though I still find that true to a certain extent, I really want to provide a warm, cozy, and clean home for my family. Now that I have the desire for a tidy life and home, it doesn’t seem to be within reach. It seems to me that both time and energy are needed to maintain a home, and time and energy are two things of which I am always in short supply.
I purge possessions and try to minimize whenever possible, but we still seem too big for our space. On the rare occasion that I get caught up on laundry (or dishes or mopping or whatever), someone gets sick or my oldest is on a break from school, and everything falls behind again. It seems to be constantly one step forward, five steps back.
I’m hardest on myself. I never judge someone else’s house for not being especially tidy when I know they have small children, yet I almost constantly beat myself up over my own messy home. I don’t host play dates or other social events for fear of judgement. I read blog posts and online articles about embracing the messy, but I just can’t seem to apply it to my own life. I’m great at encouraging others though! Feeling bad about your piles of laundry? Call me! Toys everywhere? Call me!
I nurse a hope that once my small children are not so small, I will be able to have a tidier home. Down the road, these small children will be older—all of them in school during the day—and they will be even more capable of helping around the house. But for right now, I need to find peace with my situation.
For now though, I need to give myself permission to extend the same grace to myself that I extend to others. I need to pick up the phone, invite a friend over, and just get over it. Who knows? Maybe someone else needs to know they aren’t the only ones with a mess. Or better yet, maybe they will help me clean!