I’m done cropping the mess out of pictures of my kids. I get my kids all dressed up and go to take a picture. Then it goes a little something like this… “Move over here, there’s marker on that wall” or “We have to take another one, I got the toy on the floor”. As if taking pictures and getting kids to stand still isn’t already hard enough. Or I try to capture the small moments, when I see my kids hugging, playing together, or doing something really cute. It’s magical. Then, I find myself cropping out the mess on my iPhone to post pictures to social media or for their photo albums. Okay, I haven’t started their photo albums, but I have all the pictures for them. It’s filed under “someday”. I also owe my third a huge apology for never starting that baby book and forgetting all his milestones. My point is I’m done cropping the mess because our messy life is the most beautiful thing that has every happened to me.
Having any amount of kids is messy. One of my least favorite games is called, “Is that poop?” That smear on the wall, the spot on the floor, is it poop? Whew, folks, we are in the clear…usually it’s chocolate, paint, play dough, or marker, the list goes on, sometimes we don’t figure out what it is, I just clean it. I always say a prayer of thanks when it isn’t ACTUALLY poop. My kids constantly have something on their faces, dirt on their clothes, and my windows always have smears. I’m not going to stress myself out running around after them, cleaning all night, just to have dirty windows and more poop games 12 hours later. That would not make me a happy mother. Kids make messes and just as I want to remember all the wonderful things about having children when I look back at photos, I also want to remember how hard it was. One of my historical husbands (anyone else fantasize about physicists?…the cheese stands alone), Sir Isaac Newton, said “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”. I really apply this to parenting. For all of the love and joy parents feel there are the same moments of frustration, worry, and despair. For all the singing and dancing and fun we have, there is an equal and opposite mess for me to clean up and the stress of feeling like I’m screwing up their childhood. It’s all part of the experience.
There will be a day when I will only have to clean up after my own mess. I’m a pretty big mess so it will still be a difficult job, but nowhere near what I am dealing with now. There will be a day when I miss the extra laundry and dishes. There will be a day when my house is clean and quiet, from both the kids and my yelling. There will be a day when I don’t find these surprises on my stairs.
Even in the mess, the random cheerios that ended up on the stairs, we still find the most important thing, love. It’s hidden between the wrestling and screaming, sometimes under the mess, but there is a whole lot of love in our mess. It’s in the small moments, that include the beautiful mess. I want our pictures to be real and real love, real life includes the mess. It’s worth the mess.