I occasionally get criticized for the condition of my house, or my van, because it’s usually a mess. Not a little mess, but a bread-crumbs-ground-into-the-floor-of-the-car-house-hasn’t-been-dusted-and-windows-haven’t-been-washed-in-over-a-year kind of mess. And I get it. The people who criticize me for those things would *NEVER* allow their house or their car to get in that kind of condition! But maybe… maybe they would.
Maybe if they were homeschooling moms with seven kids, at least one of whom is in diapers at all times, four of whom are currently taking music lessons and three of whom are under the age of five, they’d prioritize a little differently. Maybe things that seem really big now would seem really small when time was limited and there were a lot more hands to get rooms messy, shoes to track in mud, and fingers to create art (often on the walls) with. Maybe, just maybe, when they had time to clean out the van or wash the windows, they’d rather sit and read a book with their children. Or send their children to bed early so they can sit and read a book by themselves!
I’m not saying that having lots of kids is the sole reason my house is a mess. I have a tendency toward messiness all on my own, and I’ll probably never have a home that could be featured in Better Homes and Gardens. But I am saying that things that used to bother me just DON’T anymore. I really don’t care if my walls haven’t been washed in several years, or if my windows have fingerprints all over them. I don’t mind cobwebs on the ceiling or dust
bunnies elephants in the corners. My level of comfort with trash in my van has risen to enable me to tolerate it for much longer than the average individual (I think if it hadn’t, I would have gone insane long ago.) I’ve learned not to mind things like fingerprints or carpet stains or laundry piled up on my fireplace (ok, that still irritates me, but we’re working on that.) :)
Maybe it’s true that the people who criticize me for my messy house would NEVER allow their houses to get so messy. Or maybe… just maybe… if they walked eleven years and seven children in my shoes, they would.
So please, if you come to my house or ride in my van, try to look past the trash on the floorboard and the dirty dishes in the sink and take a look at the happy, healthy children around you who have lots and lots of tiny fingers to create not just dirt … but works of art and music on instruments, with. They are the measure of my success. They’re the ones who make my “homes and gardens” beautiful.
Song for a Fifth Child
(I love this poem, and I don’t think it’s any coincidence that it’s titled Song for a Fifth Child.)
Mother, oh Mother, come shake out your cloth,
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
Hang out the washing and butter the bread,
Sew on a button and make up a bed.
Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.Oh, I’ve grown shiftless as Little Boy Blue
(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
(Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo).
The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing for stew
And out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo
But I’m playing Kanga and this is my Roo.
Look! Aren’t her eyes the most wonderful hue?
(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).
The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
For children grow up, as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep.
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.