The kids are out of bed too early this morning. Sleepy, not quite ready to play, they need something to do. I put on a movie and suggest that they help me by picking up their mess of toys, while I start cleaning and doing dishes. Quietly, I comment (to myself, or so I think) that, as usual, I am so stinkin’ frustrated with the house.
My four-year-old looks confused. So seriously, with eyes so wide, his hint of a lisp already pulling at my heartstrings, he offers:
“But Mama, I’m so happy at our house.”
And my heart melts in an instant. He always wins the battle over the things that really matter. I get so hung up on the messes, the to-dos, the projects, and the imperfections…and I forget how much I love our house, too.
The place we built together.
I pull back now to reason with myself. A messy house may seem like something small and insignificant, but it doesn’t feel that way when you’re in it. I spend a lot of my time consumed by it, actually.
As I’m looking at my boy’s smiling face, I remember, quite logically, that we work hard to make the house beautiful. We’ve spent a lot of money on this thing, to boot. I remind myself that the clutter stresses me out — my anxiety is through the roof. I justify my frustration. I spend so much time picking up and cleaning, just to find that the kids have followed behind me, making new messes. It’s totally exhausting.
I know they’ve been practicing with the feeling of “happy” at pre-school, too, and I try to convince myself that this little genius has all the tools to placate me in his back pocket. He’s just trying to get out of chores.
But then — plot twist! — he wraps his sweet arms around my neck, pecks me on the cheek, and gets down on the floor and right to work.
I’m surprised. It had been a genuine comment that being in this place makes him happy. And he’s perplexed that it could make me feel any other way.
Yes, it’s a mess most of the time. Yes, it adds to my high anxiety.
But I need to find some balance.
This is not just a house. It’s a home. It’s lived in. There’s love here — a LOT of love. There’s also a lot of laughter, a lot of play, a lot of joy.
We’re smack-dab in the middle of the memories. Messes are to be expected.
The kids don’t even see those messes. They see us living a grand adventure, and adventures always have obstacles. Besides, they’re just busy loving the space where they feel safest, and warmest, and where they are most imaginative and most playful.
The place where they’re free to be exactly who they are.
The place where love, like laundry, knows no limits.
I want to learn to just feel happy in an imperfect space, just like my little boy does. I want to train myself to see how he sees.
Especially right here, in the home we built together.