All around me there is evidence I have four children. In my house. My car. My garage. Even the stains on my clothes reveal motherhood. Depending on the day, my inner pendulum swings between embracing the mess and resenting every crumb maker in my family.
Yesterday I looked at the kitchen floor and saw a trail of popcorn. An unknown culprit, leaving behind hints of a snack. In my mind evidence that the offender believed the maid (aka me) would get to it soon. Because what does it mean when someone makes a mess and leaves it? That they assume someone else will clean it up. Clearly! (But really not always.)
I am a terrible housekeeper. I can too easily step over piles of toys, clothes, shoes and keep on walking. I long to be the woman who must stop and pick everything up before she can move on, but alas, not me. That doesn’t mean the mess doesn’t bother me. It most certainly does. But I’ve created coping mechanisms to deal with it. Work arounds that allow my family to still eat despite a bit of stuff chaos. (I’m also easily distracted and quick to procrastinate. Does not help in the mess management department.)
Some might say I should just stop acting the Merry Maid and my children will eventually learn to pick up on their own. Oh the fear that sets in about the level of pig sty that might just become our home if I allow that. I shudder to think what type of Lord of the Flies chaos will ensue and I will not risk that.
Yesterday was one of those moments on the pendulum swing when I looked at the popcorn on the floor and felt my shoulders tense up a bit.
Why? Why must I be the one to clean up after everyone?
And then I remembered a few months ago when Gabi quoted me back to myself, “Mom you say you’re okay with the mess because it means we live here. So why are you getting so mad? Do you wish we didn’t right now?” I’m sure I snapped some response like, “Oh I’m glad you’re here, I just wish you’d all clean up after yourselves.” Mostly I was struck by my own wisdom. Sometimes we need our children to remind us what we really believe.
The mess means people live here.
There will likely come a time when I put down an ipad and it will stay there until I move it again. A day when I put leftovers in the fridge and will be sure they’ll still be there until I’m ready for them. A phase of life when the only laundry I’ll have to do is my own and maybe my husband’s.
I want to cry just thinking about it. Yes, the mess means they’re still here. Still here for me to cuddle, sing to (or in my case squawk to), to cook for, and yes even to clean up after.
So I know I need to train my children, as a good mother should, to be independent little people who know how to do laundry and are able to put things away. But in order to fight the potential resentment and rage, I am remembering that in a few years (AHHH!) one will be on her way out.
The mess is starting to look a whole lot better.