Sometimes love is messy

026 house

this is what my house looks like, right now.

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A year ago, the local sheriff showed up on my front door, followed a few hours later by a trio of social workers.  The accusation?  My house was a mess and my kids were dirty.  During her visit, the lead social worker said the following words to me:

“I don’t want to take your children from you, but…”

But

And I’ve been living in fear, ever since.  Fear that if I don’t keep my house clean, my kids will be taken from me.  Fear that if the yard gets messy, a neighbor will report us.

Today it occurred to me that maybe the key to conquering that fear is to take the advice from Glennon that I posted the other day and shine truth into the situation.  Radically.  Shamelessly.  So here it is:

I don’t have it all together.  I’m not always (or even usually) organized, neat or responsible.  We leave dishes in the sink and laundry in the hampers, on the couches, on the beds, in the floor. We let the kids play in dirt and mud.  They climb trees and run through water hoses.  They have goats as pets.  There are tissues all over the house.  Used ones.  I get allergies fairly often and am incapable of throwing my tissues away.  They’re on the night stands, the end tables, the coffee tables and eventually they pile up and billow onto the floor and we just step right over those puppies and pretend we don’t see them. Except for Jon.  They inexplicably drive him crazy, so he frequently makes a trip around the house and cleans them all up, without even complaining.  That man loves me.  And then there’s the family vehicle.  Suffice it to say that when we open the doors (by crawling in through the passenger seat, because both the side doors and the back doors only open from the inside,) food wrappers, hay, papers and (yes) tissues billow out the doors like confetti.  Once a month or so, I’ll make the kids clean it out as punishment for some especially heinous crime.  It requires a shovel and several trash bags.

And you know what?  That’s okay with me.  I mean, it’s embarrassing and creates some awkwardness when people drop by unexpectedly, or need a ride in our van (or even just see us pile out of our van, with the stuff-chasing that ensues.)  But over the years, I’ve learned to let these things go in favor of keeping sane.  Because whenever I decide that I want one of those highfalutin clean houses and some a’them squeaky-behind-the-ears children, I tend to get overbearing, pushy, irritable and angry with my junior cohabitants.  Trust me, dear CPS worker and concerned neighbors: I’m a nicer mom when my house is messy and my kids are happier, too.  I suspect it’s that way for a lot of us moms who wear so many hats and juggle so many precious responsibilities.

So rather than live in fear, I’m owning my particular brand of crazy and opening up the conversation.  My name is Rina and I’m a slob.  A slob with happy, healthy, amazing and wonderful children (four of whom, oddly, like to keep things neat and tidy.  My oldest actually said to me the other day, with all the righteous indignation and sage wisdom her 13 years have granted her: “I just cannot understand how you can tolerate having such a messy bedroom.”  It takes practice, my dear.  Years and years of practice.)

So now I’d love to hear from you other moms out there, who have given up clean houses in favor of happy kids.  Or maybe you’ve given up something else that society tells us we must have or do or be in order to be “good parents.”  I’d love to hear from you.  Other moms would love to hear from you.  You, who have struggled with perfection and won – not by becoming perfect, but by realizing you’re never going to be and embracing the crazy of it all.  The comments section is yours, today (and every day.)

“Where the stalls are clean, the stable is empty.” (Proverbs 14:4)

Our lives are full.

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PS.  In the interest of full truth-telling, our house is pretty nice these days, since we moved (more on that, later.)  Something about 10 people no longer living on top of one another in a tiny 3 bedroom 1 bathroom house has made things a lot easier to keep up with.  We even vacuum every day, if you can believe it!  I almost hate to say that, because it sounds like I’m trying to put a nice spin on things, in case any social workers or concerned neighbors are reading.  I’m not.  Things still get messy around here, there are still days when nothing gets done and at this point in my life I’ve come to realize that my room will always and forever be a disaster, no matter where I go.  And I refuse to be ashamed of that.  Or at least, I’m trying not to be ashamed of that.

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11 Responses to Sometimes love is messy

  1. Emmy says:

    Love! I’m totally trying to not be picky and pushy, insisting that everything always be right…it’s a hard road coming from the opposite direction…I know that my pickyness isn’t good for the family and that if I’d just let them be little and make messes more often i would likely have less stress :)

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  3. Melanie Dinkle says:

    Girl, you rock! You spend time with your kids which will, sooner than not, be gone!
    Clean up when it’s a health hazard and don’t worry about it if it isn’t!!!

  4. Diana says:

    Thank you so much for this. This is a constant struggle for me with three children three years old and under. I am always waffling between doing things with my kiddos and trying to keep the house liveable/where you can walk through it. It is a constant guilt fest. Guilty if I don’t play, guilty if I skip play and clean – ugh. Trying to learn a healthy balance but it’s challenging because I did not learn how to find that balance when growing up. It makes me feel like I’m not doing either thing well because I am continually divided. So I’m trying to be conscious about my choices and then be content with them.

    • Rina says:

      Diana, I HATE guilt. Hate it hate it hate it. Guilt steals all our victories, because just like you said it makes us feel like even the things we do well aren’t being done “well ENOUGH.” That’s one of the reasons I love the momastery blog… she is so good at putting things into perspective and loving herself despite and even because of all of the things guilt would try to tell her she’s doing “wrong.” Thank you so much for your comment, Diana. I’m going to be praying about this guilt thing, for both of us.

  5. A Husband In Virginia With Three Kids and a Cool Wife (aka HVTKCW) says:

    Your husband must REALLY love you to put up with your housekeeping. Even worse than your housekeeping is the fact that someone bothered to call the sheriff on you (as if CPS and government have ever successfully raised children with their policies). There had to be hungry or abused kids that need CPS intervention at the very moment that they were hounding you, but a messy house, while annoying and potentially divorce-worthy, isn’t a reason to remove kids or even to bother a family.

    • Rina says:

      Oh yes, he does! And I agree, of course, but I also think it goes to show how much us moms need to stick together and love each other… because someone CALLED CPS on us, when they could have shown up with a mop and a broom, instead.

  6. Rina says:

    And thank you all SO MUCH for your comments, everyone!!! I think this is such an important conversation to have, and I want this to be a place where we can share without fear, and hopefully come away feeling a little more refreshed and equipped and LOVED and ACCEPTED as we walk this path together!

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