I think I’ve talked about this before…but bear with me. It’s important.
My son’s absolute favorite thing to do is flop across my wet, newly-mopped floor. I say flop because he faceplants it within seconds of stepping off the carpet onto the laminate and proceeds to flop like a fish while he tries to get up and run. If he does manage to stay upright, he finds a toy and smears its wheels across the floor, creating a nice textured look on a floor that is certainly not meant to be textured.
It isn’t all my son’s fault. The flooring in my kitchen is quite literally the cheapest laminate in the entire world. It looks nice for roughly 45 seconds after I mop it. After 45 seconds, it appears as though it has not been mopped for 45 days. There is absolutely no happy-medium. Dog prints show up magically, my footprints etch a permanent residue of oil wherever I walk, and don’t even get me started on my husband’s boot prints. The floor hides nothing and has come darn close to driving me to drink.
I am the highest degree of neat freak. I think I can thank my mom for this curse or gift, but definitely curse. Every minute of every day I am thinking about an area of my house that could be cleaner. Right now, I absolutely NEED to vacuum and mop. Guess when the last time was that I vacuumed and mopped…yesterday. I live with three worst nightmares for a clean freak like myself. I live with a dog; I live with a 14-month old boy; I live with a man. I have seriously considered buying myself a maid uniform and just succumbing to my destiny.
Each day, I must make a choice: I can either clean like a madwoman or permit my house to transform into an intense infestation of dog hair, half-chewed cheerios, and sawdust. My decision depends upon which of my personalities is going to be strongest that day. My first personality involves a woman that must clean or she will die. My second personality is much newer, but gaining strength, and involves a woman who just doesn’t really care anymore.
I have many reasons for why I have ceased to care: I mop my floor each day, and three seconds later, my son uses it as a slip-and-slide. I vacuum my floor each day, and three seconds later, my son breaks into the Gerber Puffs, rips off the lid, and throws the entire container across the living room. I clean the bathroom counter each day, and three seconds later my husband decides to shave. I dust our beautiful white windowsill, and three seconds later my dog throws his muddy paws up there to look out the window. I wipe the floor underneath the highchair, and three seconds later, a forgotten piece of banana falls off my son’s butt and lands directly beneath the highchair. I shake out my rugs just in time for my husband to track in an Oak tree’s worth of sawdust.
After one year of hosting playgroup I have FINALLY learned to clean AFTER the children leave. Every other Tuesday morning I am running around trying to get my house in order for the impending wave of children, arriving at 9. These children enter and behave like children, so when they leave there are animal crackers sprinkled throughout my living room and kitchen, every toy my son owns is not in its rightful place, and since I own a 1970s style house, there is a fresh pile of dirt right in my living room where everyone entered.
Don’t get me wrong: I LOVE hosting playgroup, but perhaps, it is time I learned that my house need not be spotless PRIOR to playgroup. I’m a slow learner.
I take comfort in the fact that every mom deals with this, neat freak or not. It has come to my attention in three years of marriage and one year of motherhood that a house does not stay clean (shocking), and this is the real truth of the matter: thank God for that.
God has taught me some incredibly difficult-to-grasp lessons in the midst of my messy house. He has shown me what real patience entails. He has shown me the insignificance of the things I worry about. He has shown me my family’s and guests’ happiness can often be measured by the level of chaos within my home. Most importantly, He has shown me that perhaps my need for a clean house is based more upon my need for control than anything else, which demonstrates my lack of dependency on Him each day.
My husband’s inability to brush off the sawdust before entering the house, my son’s inability to put his own toys away, and my dog’s inability to stop shedding has taught me more about being a wife and mother than anything else. It has taught me a patience that only the Lord can provide for someone who so desperately wants things in order. The disorder of my home is God’s gift to me as He gives me the daily opportunity to both demonstrate my love by creating a healthy, clean home AND letting the chaos rule while I ignore the mess. I have been transformed from a fairly annoying neat freak to a mom who looks at a mess and smiles, and yes, I actually smile.
I am only human and a messy house will always irritate me. However, watching my son smile and giggle as he simultaneously destroys a recently spruced area of my home leaves me with a twinge of annoyance but an abundance of joy. As I bend down to pick up spilled cheerios for the thousandth time, I know that I signed up for this and I know I would not want my life any other way. Wiping up my husband’s boot marks or cleaning up his lunch dishes is how I get to demonstrate my love for him each day, when our busy, distracted lives may not offer many other daily opportunities to do so.
God does not measure my worth by the cleanliness of my home, neither does my son or husband or dog. So, when a house recently ripped apart by a tornado is cleaner than mine, I have learned that this is His blessing and I hear Him whisper, “Enjoy it while it lasts.”