The Mess. Not just a mess, but The Mess, capital T, capital M; it’s an entity, a living, breathing, multiplying son-of-a-gun that lives at my house. I’m convinced that The Mess follows parents home from the hospital upon the arrival of that first kid and then IT NEVER LEAVES!
Before kids, I realized that having a baby would obviously lead to having baby stuff in my house. I had accepted the fact that there would be some toys, preferably cute, modern, minimalist-looking wooden toys from some fancy boutique, sprinkled in various parts of my house. I imagined that there would be a few delicate, organic-cotton baby swaddling blankets ever-so-gently draped over the couch arms, or the back of a chair. And, there might even be a picture book or two on my nightstand, left there after a pleasant night of reading to my kids as they so sweetly dozed off to dreamland. Ahh yes, parenthood, motherhood would be a dream!
And then, all at once, that beautiful baby comes home and all. hell. breaks. loose! Those beautiful all-natural, wooden toys, you realize are boring and babies don’t like them, plus they’re ridiculously expensive. Not worth it. It took me weeks to finally find a Sophie the Giraffe baby teether toy and I was SO excited to finally get one! I ripped it open, gave it a little rinse, handed it to my teething baby, certain that it was going to just make her smile from ear to ear! And then I realized, uhhhhh…it’s basically a dog toy. A super cute, super expensive, squeak toy that drove the dogs nuts, but did absolutely nothing for the baby. Fantastic. Those swaddle blankets really are amazing and a total godsend, but there’s like a million of them. I swear baby blankets multiply at night. Plus, my kid was notorious for diaper blowouts and, I don’t know, that beautiful organic cotton blanket, draped on the chair, looses just a tad of its beauty when it’s covered in baby poop. Call me crazy.
Suddenly, there were toys everywhere! Books everywhere! And don’t even get me started on the mounds, nay, mountains of friggin’ baby clothes, both clean, and dirty that constantly grew higher and higher. And the toys were not beautiful wooden toys. They were big, loud, plastic and obnoxious! I remember the feeling of elation that came when my daughter had finally outgrown the damn Jumparoo and I could finally get that huge hunk of lights and noise out of my house. The Mess knows no boundaries. You can find it in any room, anytime and it’s stubborn and persistent. If it feels like you’ve finally got a hold on it, BOOM the lid goes flying off the baby’s sippy cup and the bag of goldfish takes a spill on the carpet and The Mess wins again.
It’s now been over 4 years since the day The Mess arrived in my home and 1 year since my daughter got a sister and The Mess became twice as strong. There are days when I get up, look around my room, and there’s The Mess, it’s taken the shape of stuffed dogs and blankets, shoes and laundry, all over my room. Then, I’ll walk to the bathroom, and there it is again! The dirty clothes on the floor, instead of in the hamper, the bath toys that have magically managed to find their way out of the tub and the mound of sparkly toothpaste that has somehow ended up on the faucet handles…damn you The Mess! In the kitchen, it takes the form of dishes in the sink and whatever was on the floor, that has now found its way into the hands and eventually the mouth of my 1 year-old. Thank you so much The Mess.
It drives me crazy! I hate seeing the clutter and The Mess. There are days when I feel like I’m shoveling snow during a snowstorm trying to contain and clean up The Mess, but as soon as I get one corner fixed, all hell has broken loose at the other end of the room at the hands of missy mess 1 and missy mess 2! It’s so easy to get so frustrated and irritated and just plain mad. I don’t want to live in a messy house and I don’t want my kids to think its okay to constantly make messes; I want my house to look pretty damnit! is that really too much to ask?!
And then, it hit me. I was focusing so much time and energy on trying to constantly clean up messes, that I was missing out on the joy and fun that my kids found in making those messes in the first place. Yes, there were 27 books on the floor, but it was because missy mess 1 had been “reading,” both to herself and then to her sister. Yes, every single princess doll was out and on the floor, but it was because little missy mess had finally figured out how to make the music come on in the castle and big sister was showing her how each princess played a different song. And sure, every plate, cup, saucer, fork, knife and spoon of the play-kitchen was all over the floor of my kitchen, along with a puddle of water, but it was because they had just had an impromptu tea party, one that I had been invited to, but declined because I “had to finish cleaning.”
Who am i kidding? I’ll never “finish” cleaning. And in the meantime, I’m missing these moments, moments that I will never get back because the reality is that big sister will start kindergarten in one year and that will be the end of having these lazy, messy mornings with my two girls. And soon after, little sister will start school and then, yes, for a few hours in the morning I’m sure my house will be clean and free of The Mess, but it will mean that my 100% uninterrupted, unstructured, unscheduled and purely free-time with my babies will be gone. Poof! Gone forever. They will no longer be babies. In many ways, they are no longer babies now.
So, I’ve decided, from now on, I’m just going to embrace The Mess. Maybe not like full-on BFF status, of course I still need some kind of order, but I will appreciate it for what it is, proof that my kids are happy, healthy, imaginative and blissfully normal kids who build Lego towers and finger-paint at their tea parties. And who knows, maybe, if I play my cards right, I may even get invited to the next one except this time, I will most definitely accept!