Motherhood is a Mess {Series}



In a given day there are a million moments, and lately, with a four and two year old, many of those moments look like messes. If you have survived this season, first of all, bless you (please tell me there is hope on the other side!) you may remember that there are some days where you simply go from mess to mess to mess, picking up, wiping up, sweeping up, cleaning up. I am SO there!

It’s no secret that I don’t love messes, not because I am an impeccable housekeeper, but because they just drive me crazy – especially the sticky ones. Over the course of two weeks I ended up in tears more than once because I accomplished nothing but mess clean-up in an entire day, like literally I had a Diet Coke, went to the bathroom, and cleaned up messes – and that’s all. I ended up yelling more than once (which I work so hard not to do) and completely overwhelmed in my frustration. As I often do in this season, I sat on the floor tearful and prayed a silent prayer, not that my children would stop making messes (I’ve prayed that one in my desperation many times and the answer was clearly no 😉 ) but that I would see them differently – and not just the messes, but the little people who made them. And then God, in His usual fashion, answered my prayer with perspective.

I’ve captured some of these moments on camera, but there are hundreds more that I see, now that I’ve changed my view.

BooksWhat I COULD see: My current reads strewn across the floor in the name of saving someone’s toes from the sharks in the water.

What I CHOOSE to see: Books (that can all be replaced) being used by a little boy to create his own “Neverland” allowing me to cook and clean with little interruption.  Imagination. Fun. Adventure.








What I COULD see: The fact that it is going to be a painfully long process removing every single battleship piece he put down the vent, and that I will now have even more cleaning to do because, well, I am my mothers daughter and if the vent is off anyway it’s a good chance to clean it.

What I CHOOSE to see: A little boy learning to clean up his own messes, problem solve to find a solution and work however long it takes to get the job done, and done well. This is a key tenant in the character we are trying to build in him, and this little incident gave him ample opportunity to practice.


OatmealWhat I COULD see: A spilled bowl of oatmeal on my bedroom floor.

What I CHOOSE to see: A little girl who wanted so badly to stay near her mama that she ate her breakfast on the floor outside my bathroom while I got ready. A little girl who will (soon enough) not want to hang out with me all the time. Also, she carried that bowl up the steps all by herself without spilling, so there’s that.  😉




SoapWhat I COULD see: Colorful bath soap that was used to “draw” all over the carpet and the walls and a series of other things that are not pictured.

What I CHOOSE to see: A little boy who wanted to take a “pretend” bath, so he thought creatively and made it happen. This is an important skill that will make his life so much better in long run. He wanted to do something, so he took what he had where he was and made it happen. He didn’t ask for help or permission, he just did it. There’s self-motivation in there, creativity, independence, and hard work.


SlideWhat I COULD see: A line of couch cushions used to create a death-trap of a slide down the basement steps. There are approximately 6,123 corners they could crack their heads on at the bottom.

What I CHOOSE to see: A super fun slide that my strong kids built all by themselves (and that I went down more than once!) prior to blocking the corners while they laughed and had fun.





To be clear, the messes aren’t acceptable. I am in no way saying that “kids are kids” and therefore everything they do is okay. Those that know me know that my parenting style is quite the opposite. We have high expectations for our kiddos, but I’ve also learned that you can’t pick every battle (well you can, but you’ll be ragged).  So instead, I choose to make sure that the messes aren’t solely a source of frustration and anger for me (and for my children) but a chance to learn and grow.

When it comes  to messes, they can make you crazy, but what I’m finding is that they only have power when we don’t see past the moment. It turns out that messes provide opportunity for our kids to do all manner of important things that will make them better adults – and that’s exactly the game I’m playing here. Motherhood is about the long game, friends, and while being frustrated and upset is completely acceptable, we should work to make those feelings brief. The best way to do this is to put the mess in perspective.  Will it matter in 5 hours? 5 days? 5 weeks?  Probably not.

VacuumAnd also, please release yourself from the lie that every mess that’s made is your responsibility. It’s not. In fact, it shouldn’t be. Kids are remarkably capable – even little kids.  My kids start vacuuming their own couch crumbs at 18 months and sweeping right after that. They can get a towel, spray a cleaner, and wipe up a mess. They can use tongs and wooden spoons to remove tiny pieces from air vents. Don’t sell your kids short by cleaning up their messes.  My children cleaned up each and every one of these, and while I equipped them with the best tools and talked through ideas for how they could clean it up, it was their elbow grease that got the job done.  It was their curiosity, creativity and imagination that made the messes, and their hard work that cleaned them up.  That’s a win-win in this mama’s book.



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