Wednesday, June 18, 2014

We live here

When I first became a mother a little over seven years ago, I was confounded by how much stuff comes with such a tiny little baby.  My once pinterest-worthy house was now cluttered with gigantic contraptions that were designed to stimulate, entertain, or corral my squishy little kid.  As he's grown, his belongings have both multiplied and shrunk in size.  Now, instead of one huge teddy bear, there are forty million tiny legos and hotwheels.

Parking lots for the OCD-inclined can be found tucked into random corners of my entire home.
The battle to contain the mess used to really stress me out to no end.  I have always had this vision of what my home would be like:  uncluttered, organized, welcoming, warm, cozy, well decorated and coordinating in every sense.  For the first few years, I was able to maintain a pretty convincing facade.  The dishes were always done and put was the laundry.  All of Wyatt's toys were separated into awesome little bins, and we'd always put away one mess before creating another.  I always rushed to tidy up as soon as anything else caught his interest.  I obsessively vacuumed and mopped and dusted and polished.  My house was perfect.  But my son was bored, and I was depressed.  The depression lasted a couple of years, ebbing and flowing, until I finally started getting to the root of its cause:  the constant struggle for unattainable perfection.

Evidence of my kid everywhere.  It's inescapable.

So I decided to just see what would happen if I relaxed a bit.  I saw how much more Wyatt's creativity and imagination blossomed when he was allowed to have completely unstructured play, making giant messes in the process.  I realized how he would come back to something he'd walked away from a few hours before, and find an entirely new way to play with what he'd left behind.  He began making collage art from scraps of previous art projects that I didn't maniacally throw away as soon as they left the scissors' blade.  My boy was set free...and so was I.

So that's where those are...nothing ever in its place.
Believe me, this has been a long mental process with plenty of bumps along the way.  I've fought the urge to literally throw everything laying on the floor into a garbage bag and be rid of it.  I have to internally chant the mantra, "he's just being a kid" over and over and over in my head to keep from getting annoyed at the messes.  I still insist that my house be clean, even if there are the scattered messes everywhere.  I do still require responsibility of Wyatt when it comes to tidying up periodically when it is obvious he's truly done with any particular bit of chaos.  This new attitude of "let him be little" does not mean that I've thrown up my hands and decided to live like pigs.  It means that rather than having a total freak out session when every Lincoln Log is strewn about on the floor, I give him time to be an engineer of fun....and sometimes, I join him.  I let him build blanket forts.  I let him fill up the sink with water and splash.  I let him tape twenty pieces of copy paper together to make a life-sized canvas for his art.
An every day occurrence.
He said this is going to be a "real size picture of me."  We go through so much tape and paper in this house, it isn't even funny.

Another thing I've had to embrace:  not constantly apologizing for living in the home that we live in.  I mean, come on.  My house will probably never again consistently look like company is about to come over.  About once a month, during the school year, every single thing is in its place.  Every dish is washed and put away....laundry, too.  Every bed is made.  The dust has been conquered.  Horizontal surfaces are visible.  Then, my guys come home and we live here.  Dishes get dirty, clothes get worn, things get put down where they didn't start.  It's okay.  Why I felt the need to explain away these very normal happenings of life, I'll never know.  

Wyatt lives here.

And here.  He takes great pride in his collections of stuff.
Instead of seeing every mess as something undesirable, I've started viewing them through another lens:  this is where my little boy pretended to be a Kratt brother for an hour.  This is where my little Picasso created the most incredible collage I've ever seen.  This is where he built a restaurant out of legos, then spent time using his imagination, pretending his army men were having a meal together there with the lego men.  This is where he sat for two hours researching bugs and snakes and sharks, learning enough to recite endless interesting facts to me while I prepared dinner. 

A Kratt brother has been here...

And let's be real:  not every mess can be blamed on Wyatt.  I get lazy about putting things away, too.   Sometimes I'd rather read a few chapters of a good book than unload/load the dishwasher.  I've been known to totally skip folding and putting away a load of laundry until the next time around.  I don't make my bed every single day anymore.  I have often waited until the number of roly poly corpses is beyond ridiculous before I haul out the vacuum.  I'm human.  And I live here.  And I'm not sorry.

My bathroom after the Sunday morning rush.

There's still space on the counter...not an emergency yet. 
So, let's all give each other a break.  None of us live in the perfect world that the magazines and pinterest put on display.  Relax.  Support one another.  Love one another.  Be real with each other.  You really never know how badly someone else needs to see your sink full of dishes and toys all over your floor.  I needed that desperately at one point.  I truly pray and hope that for someone out there, this has been somewhat liberating and encouraging!

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