Life as a queen in a land of many kings…

Living Life, Making Messes

on February 22, 2012

Remember that New Year’s resolution about cleaning the refrigerator?  Well, after months of trying to convince me to undertake the chore (“It’s easy” and “It’ll only take a few minutes”), Matt finally tore apart the refrigerator and cleaned up the dried, spilt Kool Aid and other crumbs of yesteryear.  That “quick and easy” task ended up being divided between two days.  Coming from the kitchen, I heard several curse words and the banging of refrigerator drawers.  I silently laughed to myself as his temper grew hotter.  Easy?  I knew better than that!

The refrigerator sent him into a cleaning rampage.  This happens from time to time, and these rampages are a bittersweet experience for me–sweet because someone other than me is motivated to clean, bitter because he blames me for most of the messes (despite my earlier claim that I make only 10% of them) and because most anything that gets in his way ends up in the trash.  ”We’re slobs!” he declared.  ”We need to do a better job taking care of things!”

It was funny to see him experience the frustration I feel every week as I tackle a mountain of chores.  Finally, he understands, I thought.  I told him I’m glad to see him take an interest and that maybe together we can keep up with things because I obviously haven’t been able to do it on my own.  To his credit, he does help.  And we’re both to blame for making messes (and not cleaning them).  But we’re by no means slobs.  Our house is simply lived in, and I try to remind myself of this on the average day when I look around and cringe because our humble abode isn’t even close to anything you’d see in a Better Homes and Gardens magazine.  (Does anyone’s house really look like that–so bright, sparkly, and pristine???)

But not all messes are bad, I’m learning.  In fact, the mess of squash or sweet potato smothered all over Westin’s face is one I’ve quickly learned to love!  The spray of orange baby food across his booster seat tray makes me laugh.  Surely, he’s more interested in his new-found talent for blowing bubbles than he is in the pureed mush I keep shoveling into his mouth!

Baby food is only the beginning.  I want Westin to grow up and make messes.  I want him to finger paint and play in the dirt and splash through the creek in our backyard.  I want to feel frustrated that he got grass stains on his new shirt or that he walked through a rain puddle in his “good” sneakers because these are all necessary parts of childhood.  I want him to have an imagination.  I want him to explore and play and feel that the world is his to discover.  I want him to go outside on nice days instead of sitting in front of the TV.  I want him to bake with me and throw sprinkles all over the kitchen and kiss me with his flour-covered face–his bright, blueberry eyes the only thing showing through.  I want him to have fun and to laugh and to revel in the joy of mess making.

Of course, I also want him to learn how to clean up the messes he makes.

I’m in the habit of trying to do just that each night before going to bed.  Empty glasses go in the dishwasher.  Dirty burp cloths go in the hamper.  Abandoned toys go back in their basket.  Stray bills and junk mail get piled neatly on the dining room table.  I brush my teeth, take out my contacts, and head upstairs, but there’s one last thing I do before turning out the light and settling into bed.  I tiptoe into Westin’s room and check on him one last time.  It’s the same thing every night.  I see his chest move up an down with each breath, and from the glow of the hallway light shining outside his bedroom door, I study the shadows and contours of his face.  ”He is perfect,” I think to myself.  And with that thought, I drift off to dreamland feeling that this life, and it’s many messes, is perfect too.


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