My husband and children were away all last week, and as a result, our house was unnaturally quiet. And CLEAN. Now, I'm not saying I didn't enjoy it, but last night as I surveyed the wreckage that my children and husband habitually leave in their wake, I felt . . . completely content. "The mess!" I reveled. "It's back! "
It's funny how a brief separation can convince you that a house trashed by children is a good thing. Before they left, I was on a roll of fussing and cleaning up almost constantly, trying to keep the house orderly and neat (in vain, I might add). But why, exactly? What was I trying to accomplish with all the neatness? Was I aiming for a House Beautiful photo shoot? Girding myself for a surprise inspection? I mean, really. Who cares if the house isn't perfectly neat? Evidence that children live in a house should be something to celebrate, not hide. I'm GLAD of the mess; it shows someone actually feels comfortable living there.
Undoubtedly, part of the reason behind my recent attitude adjustment is our friend Katie Allison Granju's heartbreaking loss of her son, Henry. Henry was only 18 when he died Monday evening. Katie's sorrowful words--the words she wrote as her son lay unconscious and severely injured in a local hospital--resonate with me:
Give your children an extra hug today. Tell them how much you love them and how special and perfectly amazing they are. Never miss a chance to tell them that. I’d give anything if H could hear me telling him that now.
My children ARE amazing. I DO love them. And in the grand scheme of things, an ultra-clean house is just not all that important. I'm done fussing at them about it.
So, bring on the daily art, the hairbrushes, the pencils and dried up markers, the teeny Lego pieces, the hula hoops, the mismatched shoes strewn on the floor, and the bits of pocket flotsam and jetsam that end up on my counters. I can take it. It doesn't bother me one bit. Bring on the mess.
Truth be told, I'm utterly grateful for it.