To my husband, at the end of a (LOOOOONG) day,
I can see it written all over your face the second you walk in the door. Your eyes are instantly surveying the toys scattered all over the floor, the stack of dishes next to the sink, the messy ‘mom-bun’ on top of my head- the same one you could have sworn you’ve been looking at for the past three days (spoiler alert: it IS the same one). You see the same laundry pile that was there on the couch cushion when you left for work this morning. It hasn’t moved (unless you count the parts that got shoved over for baby dolls and teddy bears to have a tea party).
Listen, I know what you must be thinking. I know what it looks like. And before the words “it’s a mess in here” even find their way past your lips, before that notion of “what have you done all day?” even enters your mind, let me take a quick pause to remind you of a few things.
Every morning, every.single.morning, I wake up early, most of the time before the sun rises, no matter how little sleep was had the night before, or how many little ones ended up in our bed. Every morning, I make breakfast. I try to get a choosy eater to EAT said breakfast. I pick food up off of the floor. I scrape plates. I entertain a cranky toddler. Or a fussy baby. I try to keep them engaged in something quiet enough to not wake you up before you have to get up to leave for work.
Every morning, I try to clean the breakfast dishes and put them away. Except for those times when someone is crying, or into something they shouldn’t be, or needs a diaper change, or a tissue, or to go sit on the potty (which is often). The dishes stack up. I always think ‘I’ll get to them later.’
Every afternoon, we play. We have tea parties. We play house. We let the little people drive their little cars all over the rug, pretending they are the streets that will take us all across town. We go outside. We go on adventures, or play dates, or trips to the park or the library.
Every afternoon, I make lunch. Usually in a rush (because life…). We sit, and we eat. We talk about our day, the weather, the firetruck we saw screeching down the road. We put our dishes in the sink, and I start to cleanup. Only someone cries. Someone needs a diaper change. Someone gets into something. Someone needs me. So I go, and I think ‘I’ll get to those later.’ The dishes stack higher.
We do the nap time dance. Will they sleep or won’t they? We read books, we sing songs. We rock, and we rock, and we rock. We talk about sleepy eyes and tired bodies. We hug our favorite stuffed animal and I say a silent prayer that those eyes stay closed for long enough for me to sneak back out into the messy living room and have some peace and quiet for at least an hour or two.
And every nap time, I have a mental debate.
Should I pick up the toys now knowing they’ll all come RIGHT back out in a matter of minutes after they wake up, or should I finally wash this mom-bun hair? Should I squeeze in a quick workout, or get to those dishes I’ve been telling myself I’d do? Should I finally get some work done, or take that nap that I’ve been longing for knowing that it means my time will be up and I will have gotten to do NOTHING else on my list? Every.single.nap time, I have this debate. Desperately needed me time? Or get things done? Two hours goes by SO fast, and most often, it is MY needs, and MY wants that get neglected or pushed into the “I can do that later,” category.
And then every afternoon, after naptime ends, the toys come back out. The contents of the play kitchen that I put away not even 30 minutes ago are once again overturned on the floor. The little people continue their trek through the city. The stuffed animals have yet another tea party on the couch. It happens in minutes, literally MINUTES after those sweet little eyes have opened.
Every evening, I start dinner. You’d be amazed at the kind of nonsense a three-year old can get into when they know their mama is preoccupied in the kitchen. Suddenly there is play-doh on the windows, and ground into the tile. There are marker caps strewn about the coloring space, and paper all over the floor.
That’s when it hits me. I know how this looks.
I look at myself- still a messy mom-bun. Same grungy clothes I had on this morning (or, in the spirit of honesty, the same clothes I probably had on yesterday, too). I look at the kitchen- I never got to those dishes after all, there was always something else calling me away. I survey the same mess that I know you will see when you walk in the door- the toys, the clutter, the shoes everywhere (how on EARTH are there so many shoes in this house?!). And I know- it looks like nothing has happened here today.
But looks can be deceiving, because today was FULL to the brim.
Because today, I put out fires. Not literal fires, but the kind of things that require immediate attention.
Today, I wiped butts, and noses, and ketchup smeared hands and faces.
Today, I was a nurse, a coach, a cheerleader, a chef, a chauffeur, and a house cleaner.
Today, I was the main source of entertainment for a grumpy toddler.
Today, I cleaned the living room up at LEAST three times.
Today, I made a healthy breakfast, lunch, and dinner and tried to get a choosy little one to eat more than two bites of any of it.
So today, as you look at the mess that surrounds us, and wonder “what happened in here all day?” I want you to remember this. Today, I kept the kids alive, happy, and fed. I put the needs of others in front of my own. I sacrificed my quiet time in lieu of getting things accomplished, only to turn around and have it look like I’d actually done nothing. I cleaned the same messes multiple times.
I know it may not look like much, but a LOT has happened around here today, and even now, as bedtime draws near and my job has almost finished for the day, I know that there’s still about a million more “things” to do before I can finally crawl into bed, exhausted from a day that was so busy doing “things” already.
So please, before you even arrive at that “it’s a mess in here,” thought, know that some very important things happened here today. LIFE happened here today. Some of it was messy and not so great, but a lot of it (amidst the chaos and the clutter) was pretty freaking magical.