I don’t think it’s a secret, among those who know me, that I love a clean house.
And by “love,” what I mean is not only do I like seeing my house all tidied up and clean, but I really enjoy cleaning in general. Even as a child, I loved Saturday morning chores done with my mom. I realize I’m probably in the minority of people who actually enjoy cleaning, and I’m cool with that.
What may not be known, though, is my even greater love for a well lived in home. A well loved home.
As much as I enjoy the wiping down, the picking up, the putting away… seeing how our home works for our family brings me even more happiness. I clean up the mess so we can make the same mess again the next day.
What I share with you is the cleaned up side. I snap photos when my baby is napping and my husband isn’t home, when things are straightened up and the piles are put away. But it occurred to me today that while I like looking at a photo of my living room so pristine, I love the not so perfect pictures of life being lived in our home, too.
These are just close-up shots and you can’t see the bigger mess, the whirlwind that happens between the hours of 8am and 2pm when my little guy is up and running. I clean it all up during his nap, and once he’s awake after his nap around 5pm we get to repeat the cycle. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. Sometimes when I leave Ezra’s room after laying him down for his nap, and I stand on the stairwell where I can see both the upstairs play room and the downstairs living room, in that quiet moment I think how it can’t be possible to love a tiny person this much (especially one whose sole mission, while awake, is to wreak havoc). And yet.
Sticky spots on the floor, an orange stain on the rug, crumbs in the couch, fingerprints (heck, full on handprints) on the television… these are hallmarks, to me, of a well loved and lived in home. These are the things I wipe up and sweep away, but they are also the things I’m trying to remember. And not just remember, but dearly remember. I think every mom has been told, countless times, to hang on to these precious days and while it may be trite, it’s also true.
Dinosaurs and puzzles will be traded for video games and sports gear, one day. The messes will be there, but they’ll be different. And I’ll miss these days.
A lived in home, though, is more than just the sentiment behind what’s piled in the corner. And while I love my lived in home, there are those messes that never seem to go away. The ones that are frustrating, repetitive, and seem to serve no purpose other than to cause annoyance. These are the ones I’m learning to be a little more graceful about. A little more kind. A little less grumbly.
When I’m scrambling to prepare dinner, only to cut the bag of frozen vegetables open at a weird angle and have half of it dump on the floor. When I clean all that up with a toddler under foot, finish loading up the crock pot, and look around at the counters only to realize the mess wasn’t just contained to the floor. When I’ve used up all my energy cleaning up the last spill, the last smear, the last random sock on the floor. When I’m tired. When I wonder, why can’t I get any help around here?
Those are the moments of personal imperfection – of just plain daily life – that I’m trying to equally let go of but hang onto as well. They’re a part of this dreamy haze of being the mama to a toddler and the wife to a husband who works long hours for our benefit, where I’m learning to balance realistic expectations with an idealistic hope. Where I’m cutting myself some slack because I couldn’t finish putting all the laundry away, but the good news is we at least have clean clothes. There’s still beauty here, in the monotony of day to day. These moments still tell of a well loved home.
So, what is the wish for my home? I’ll tell you.
A little more grace. A little less (self-imposed) pressure for perfection.
A little more uninhibited enjoyment. A little less guilt over unfinished chores.
More of puzzle time on the rug. Of trains hidden in cabinets that are not really cabinets, but are actually caves. Of stories made up on the spot about wild animals. Of imagination. Of love notes left in surprising places. Of moments on the couch, catching up on a favorite show.
I wish for my home to be a refuge, to be a gathering place for family, to be quiet when we need it and loud otherwise. I wish for friends and family to know they’re welcome, and for laughter and stories to be captured among these walls. I wish for this home to be a tool we use to build a lovely life, together.
And right now, looking around at my perfectly imperfect living room, I think I can see those wishes very plainly. How lucky we are, so lucky.