I get it. I really think I do.
The grandmas and mothers of older children look back fondly when their children were smaller and big life issues weren't an issue. They say stuff like,
"Make the most of this time. It goes so fast. Don't sweat the small stuff. Pick your battles. The days are long and the years are short. It won't last forever."
Most of this advice I try to listen to. I mean they should know right? They've done this and I want their wisdom to try to make it through this highly emotional living at warp speed season of life.
However, if I hear one more time how I shouldn't worry about a messy house because we are making memories, I might have to turn on my heels and walk straight away before I scream at you.
What do you mean, don't worry about the mess?
I have to worry about the mess!
I have to care when I get out of bed and step on scissors because my daughter decided she wanted to be close to me when she woke up early and wanted to make me a card. However, when she was done cutting, coloring and gluing, decided to go and play legos with her brothers, leaving her mess and forgetting for the hundredth time to clean up after she is done leaving me with scissors glued to my foot.
Or when my kids want to build a city out of their Imaginex toys and Legos and forts with sheets. Leaving absolutely NO space to walk around since their room is 10x12ft small.
Or when my children, Lord bless them, want to help me in the kitchen. Little hears I need milk, goes and gets it and drops it on the floor, while my middle grabs the knife to cut the cucumbers because he can't, and I mean he just can't wait one teeny tiny minute for this mother to clean up the first mess before he slides the knife, misses the cutting board and then knocks the jelly to the floor. All of this happens while Big yells to me that the water is bubbling over on the stove.
So I gently usher them out of the kitchen to get a handle on the mess and my emotions. I mend the kitchen issues for 10 minutes, only to go out to the living room to see all the cushions on the floor for a big romping mess, water spilled on the table, the toenail clippers on the floor, paper clips scattered EVERYWHERE because of course the kids are making a spider man chain. It is at this moment that my dear husband asks me where the measuring tape is, the phone rings and the timer goes off.
I take a second, one little second to survey my current out of control life.
The kitchen table has bills piled on it, remnants of breakfast and lunch still hanging around because I did choose that morning to play with my kids instead of cleaning every last dirty dish. There are scrambled eggs, ketchup, rice cake crumbs, broken chips, squashed blueberries, shriveled apple slices and other food that can't be identified under the table even though I just swept yesterday. YESTERDAY PEOPLE!
Our kitchen table is also apparently the ONLY place for craft projects of which my children like to have at least five projects going EACH AND EVERY DAY. They need a piece of paper for every thought, and every idea. They make books, and cards, planes and crowns, magic tricks and costumes out of paper. They are unstoppable, and it is unreal how much they love to CUT paper. Seriously, cutting bits of paper that scatter and fall and stick to your foot and end up ALL OVER THE HOUSE is going to be the death of me.
Unless stepping on all those darn Legos don't kill me first.
You want to know what is incredibly sad to me?
I only described my kitchen table to you.
One small space in our life.
I'm not taking you into the rest of the house.
See, I have to care about the mess because you know what happens when we don't care about the mess?
Moms go crazy.
That's what happens.
A mom's brain is on overload. She is already managing ten thousand things all at the same time. She doesn't need a house that looks on the outside like what it does on in the inside. I don't want anyone to see what is going on in there. I wish I could escape it sometimes. So then to see that not only is my brain a big hot mess, but the house is too?
It's too much.
It makes me crazy. It makes me incredibly cranky and irritable, because everywhere I step I land on food. I head to the kitchen to cook, and it turns out I have to wash dishes first so we have something to eat on. I go to get a pen to write a message and can't find one. I search under cushions, in the bathroom, and finally find one under the bed. Everything takes 10 times longer when the house is a mess and frustrations are higher because you can't ever find what you need.
Then according to everyone in the house, mom is the only one who knows where everything is. But then little people like to play the game, "move things around the house but don't remember where I put it, but mom should know anyway."
I hate that game. I mean really hate
A messy house just means there is more mess in life.
Yes, I want to spend my time loving and being with my kids. I don't want to spend hours dusting and washing floors that will just need to be done again next week.
But all of this also assumes that I am in charge of cleaning.
We don't do any service to our kids by not teaching them to clean up after themselves. They need to know how to take care of their things. To show respect for their belongings and know that if you make a mess, you should clean it up.
So, you know what that does to my life?
It makes me a manager and teacher of how to be clean. Not ignoring the mess, but now focusing on it because I am training others in how to handle it. It becomes my job to help train my kids to put their clothes away when they change into pajama's. Otherwise, there room is a total mess within just a coupe days.
They should be responsible with helping set and clean up after meals because they are partaking in the meal.
They should clean up after their arts and crafts. It's called responsibility.
So yes, I understand that there are times, you run out your door after a meal to enjoy a family bike ride, not cleaning up the dishes and waiting till later.
Yes, its OK to let the clean up rules slide for special time together.
The truth is, we have to care about the mess. If we don't, then where is my dish fairy to come and take care of the load of dishes in my sink that I am still ignoring from lunch?
We need clean clothes.
We need clean dishes.
We need toys to be put away so we can find them later to play with.
We need to teach our kids to be responsible.
That means however that I need to care about the mess.
If you really want me to enjoy time with my kids and enjoy the moment, then instead of telling me I shouldn't care about the mess, offer me a glass of wine while I play my 15th game of "Sorry" and you can do my dishes for me.