Every day, I find legos on the carpet...most of the time I spy them before I yelp in pain. And along with the legos, I usually find loose change, a candy wrapper, and a broken pencil scattered about our main level. Thank goodness we don't have babies anymore.
I wish I could say that every day I just pick all the items up and put them where they belong, then gently remind my children to clean up after themselves. Or, that I leave them, and wait until the kids are around to use their mess as a chance for them to practice cleaning up...once again.
But in all honesty, I usually grab the socks and stomp across the room to bottom of the stairs and yell, "You left your socks all over the living room! How many times do I have to tell you..."
Unfortunately, a daily ritual.
There are many more messes about our house. I look around right now, and see the sink filled with dishes. I picture our upstairs balcony area, covered with laundry, and I cringe at the thought of the crowded-with-junk and books with broken bindings in each of my children's rooms. If I fling my thoughts outside our walls, I can easily roll my eyes at the untidy garage, and the Izzy cans strewn across our second garage. Oh, and the chalk and dead leaves, and the chewed up baseballs from our crazy "retired" hunting dog.
Besides our messy schedules, I am trying to cope with our messy house. And, until today, I've done a poor job of it. I've let it become emotional, I've enslaved my thoughts into this only-get-out-of-jail-free card-if-everything-is-spic-and-span reality, and only THEN can I relax.
As I washed the first round of dishes (yes, I did that this morning, and still have more this afternoon), I chose to pray gratitude for my kiddos. Everyone had left for school, and it was just me and the mess. The creatures that made the mess were gone.
And I realized something.
This mess is proof of the life.
And this is the life I've wanted all along. I've wasted so much breath and worry on the messiness and the possibility of someone showing up at any moment to judge my mess. Seriously. That's how bad it is. I've set up these expectations in my mind of what would make me a "good" mom, a "good" homeowner, a "good" wife, and I've caught myself striving more toward the expectations than toward the life that has been given me--the joy of sitting with my kids after school, ignoring the mess, and just being part of the life. Their life.
Gratitude for the life is so much more freeing than scrutiny for the mess. After all, one day, there will be no little lives around to love on. And the absent mess will be proof in my memory that so much life is behind me.
I want to keep that life right here, right now.
Time is running at lightening speed. And I've wasted enough of my energy fighting the clock, instead of enjoying the seconds of life within these walls.
So much life is around me. So much more life than I could have ever imagined twenty years ago. And as I look about me, I know this is my reality. This is life.
And this mess is proof of that.