It occurred to me the other day as I was vacuuming gritty dirt off the floor, tracked in from shuffling kids and dogs in and out of the house, that my home was destined to only get dirtier as the years rolled forward.
My boys are three and under a year old, so there are certainly messes, but it hit me like a lightning bolt that as my sons grow older, the messes will be more. They will eat more, which means more dirty dishes. They will play harder, which means more dirty laundry. They will imagine bigger, which means more creative play and scattered remnants of forts, race tracks, and action figures.
The realization that I will always be up against a dirty house raised my heart rate a little bit. For some silly reason (blame it on the lack of sleep), I believed that my house accumulated messes because my children are small. I’m in the thick of diaper changes, washing bottles and breast pump parts, and wiping sticky hands and dirty butts.
I finish one chore only to turn around into another. Surely, I thought, it’s just the stage of parenting I’m in now. But similar to the myth that parenting gets easier the older your kids get, I realized that my house won’t magically get cleaner as my kids grow. The messes and chores will just change.
Maybe I will have more time to focus on the house as my kids get more independent, but maybe not. Then I began to question why I cared so much what my house looked like? Yes, I don’t want to live in a filthy home, so basic cleanliness is a must. But so what if there are baby toys scattered all over the living room? So what if Play-doh has dried and crusted on the floor? So what if laundry lays jumbled in a basket for a few days?
Why do I obsess over erasing all signs from my home that people actually live there? There will come a time in my life when the messes of children will not overtake my home. And that makes me sad. One day, I won’t have to worry about washing dishes that fed my two growing boys. Or vacuuming dirt and grass that hitched a ride inside from a warm evening of outside play. Or tackling endless laundry of baby poop blowouts and marker-stained shirts.
One day, I won’t have a good excuse for not having a clean and tidy home. But right now, I have two. Two glorious reasons to leave the mess alone for just a little longer.