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One thing is for certain when you become a parent: life is going to get much messier. Despite any clean-freak tendencies, amazing organization, or constant hovering over your child, your kids are going to make messes. Often. But, I know that if I choose, I can see my children, my self, and my parenting as a beautiful mess. Because even though my home may be messy almost immediately after cleaning, these messes say something about my life, and that something is quiet beautiful.
The ways children make messes are pretty endless. And you never know what they may make a mess out of next. In our home there has been entire boxes of cereal dumped out onto the floor.
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There has been pink nail polish left on our carpet and on our dresser, Wite-Out painted onto legs and bed sheets, and a container of powdered graphite emptied out onto our carpet (which did not come out).
Then there is the shedding of clothes as they play dress up, change outfits, and strip off socks, shoes, and jackets wherever they please. There are endless pieces of papers, crayons, pencils, pens, and colored pencils all over my home, not to mention the kitchen utensils, pots, pans, oven mitts, laundry baskets, and more as my children play pretend.
And of course there are the messy meal times, complete with stained bibs and clothes, cups tipping over, and bathing that needs to be done afterward. Plus, there is just the food crumbs, wrappers and trash dropped onto the floor throughout the day.
And don’t even get me started on the diapering and potty messes! From diaper removing children, poop covered cribs, pee on the floor, diaper explosions, and messed underpants, the smell and frustration of bowel movements is certainly one of the grossest messes of parenthood! And when your child gets sick, there’s the booger streaks on your clothes and furniture, piles of tissues, and cleaning up of vomit wherever it may end up (floor, car, sheets, or yourself!).
Yes, becoming a parent is a messy ordeal. Really messy at times, especially when multiple children are involved (and lucky me has always had multiple children!).
But, children are more than little mess makers, destroyers of things, or tornadoes. Because there is beauty to the messes, yes even the disgusting ones. Because, behind every mess their is a bigger message:
- Dumped out cereal? Means my child is learning about gravity, practicing pouring, and learning what sound pouring cereal makes when it hits the floor.
- Forgotten Milk Cup? Likely meant I was more concerned about getting my child safely in and out of a vehicle than if their cup was MIA, and that I had more cups elsewhere.
- Nail polish and Wite-Out Painting? Means they used their fine motor skills to unscrew the lid, and are working on their creativity.
- Powdered Graphite Spill? Means my child is curious about something they’ve never seen before.
- Messy Meal Times? My children are learning to feed themselves, are trying new foods, are exploring new textures with their fingers and faces, and are still getting the nutrition they need. It also means they are learning how to cut, spread, and pour for themselves. It means memories of food cooked together in the kitchen.
- Trash and wrappers on the floor? Allows me the opportunity to teach about the importance of cleaning up our messes. I love that my soon-to-be five year old twins can now sweep up messes with our O-Cedar Angler Broom and then mop with our O-Cedar Spray mop. What I love even more is how much they enjoy doing so!
- Shedding Clothes? This means my children have learned the important, independent skill of dressing and undressing themselves, as well as self-expression and individuality as they play dress up or put on clothes that they really wanted to wear instead.
- Shedding Diapers? Means my child is becoming more self-aware, practicing her fine motor skills and coordination, and getting ready for potty training.
- Potty Accidents? These just means my child is still learning, but is getting one step closer to being fully trained. Plus, good, regular bowel movements just mean my child is healthy (even if they don’t happen in the correct location).
- Art supplies everywhere? It just means my children are budding artists, who love to create, draw, color, and are at the same time developing wonderful pre-writing and fine motor skills.
- Toys Scattered all over? Those toys represent the hours my children spend pretending, playing, and using their imaginations and creativity. It means they spent the day doing something other than sit in front of a screen. It means bonding with their siblings, friends, or their parents.
- Kitchen utensils in the living room? Reminds me that children don’t really need toys, and that ordinary things can become extraordinary.
- Sick Messes? Tells me that my children’s bodies are doing their job at keeping them healthy and at healing them. But, it also shows me the love and need my child has for me as they look to me for comfort, support, and healing when they are ill.
So, if you choose to, you can see past the initial mess of parenthood. You can see past the “something that needs to be cleaned up.” Every pile, every spill, every accident means something happened. And that something can usually remind us of the beauty in the end result.
As a parent, I see the chaos and then I see a full life: a life rich in happiness, hugs, play, laughter, joy, screams, talks, and love. The mess lets me know that children live here. That play is prioritized, as is adventure and freedom. The messes are only markings of my children growing up and learning, as mess making is just part of that journey. I am choosing to see beauty in it, because I know in the end, the result will be the most beautiful of all – some pretty amazing human beings I am happy to have call me mom.
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Please tell me your favorite messy parenting story and how you now realize it really just marked one of the many “beautiful messes” of parenthood.