I have a big family and I came from a big family. It’s not quiet in my home. It wasn’t quiet in my home growing up. When I was a kid the TV would be on in one room, maybe a radio on in another, a wrestling match that almost always ended with a broken lamp, and maybe a fight or two – all going on at the same time. And I loved it!
Second Generation Chaos
There’s a little less wrestling and a lot less TV in my house, but the noise and chaos remain. We have a school age son learning to play the violin. We have triplets worn out by their first year in kindergarten who occasionally melt down in tears. We have a mom who whistles and sings and dad who shares his loud music collection. There’s fighting, yelling, and more than one conversation happening at once. Our nearly dead clothes dryer squeaks so loud you start looking for the earplugs and sometimes there’s food burning on the stove, setting off the smoke detector.
And it’s not just noise -it’s a little bit lack of organization and schedule. I don’t know if it’s me or being raised by hippie parents, but my body does not want to be on a schedule – I feel a physical aversion to it. I’m like a toddler who doesn’t want to go to bed on time, even though she needs the sleep. My brain throws itself down on the floor in a complete tantrum, “I don’t wanna do the same thing at the same time every day!”
My Calm Friends Have Peaceful Homes
I’ve had the privilege of visiting my calmer friends’ homes, where there is less yelling and more patience. The space is cleaner, neater, more organized. A load of whites is done every Wednesday. The vacuum is run every day. There’s no faint scent of “litter that should have been emptied yesterday.” It’s so nice to walk into a space like that. And not just the neat part, but the calm part. Some of my friends just exude peace and to be near them is like stepping a sweet scent. I feel calmer when I’m near them, just being around them helps keep my crazy at bay. Now, I’m not saying these women are perfect. I know there are no perfect moms.
I used to think this was my goal – the calm, neat home. To curb my temper. To clean up the house. To run a load of whites every Wednesday. To get my act together. But now I know better. My calmer counterparts are not my goal. They are not me. It’s in their nature to be calmer and more peaceful. That is one of the reasons I love them and love to be around them. But, calm and peaceful is not my default setting.
My New Goal: Embrace the Chaos
So instead of trying to be something that I’m not, I’m going to start embracing who I am, to appreciate my nature.
What that means is yes, our house is filled with noise and chaos, but that’s not a bad thing. The noise comes from dance parties, sock skating, tickle fights, and attack hugs. The chaos that begins with a burned dinner ends in a pizza party. Embracing the chaos means throwing out the schedule to play my violin along with my son, staying up late on a school night to let the kids watch the Princess Bride, and throwing a birthday party for our guinea pig. These are great times for our family: loud, joyful times. And they’ll be great memories for my children.
Already I’m more content at home, now that I have given up trying to be something that I’m not and trying to make our family like someone else’s. Now we have the freedom to be our amazing, loud, crazy big family.
At this moment, my house is a mess, more than a mess really, it’s a disgrace. The dishwasher needs emptied, the breakfast dishes are piled in the sink, and the crockpot is sitting out, “soaking” with greasy soapy water. There are two loads of laundry dumped on the couch that need folding and the remains of a pretty awesome pillow fort are strewn all over the floor.
This wouldn’t be a big deal except that a friend just texted me to ask if she can stop by in a few minutes to drop some clothes off for the triplets. How can I say no? We love hand-me-downs.
A few years ago, I would have apologized profusely for the mess as I let me friend in the door. I would have explained, in detail, all the very good reasons I had for the place being a mess. You know what else I would have done? I would have apologized for the “mess” even if my house was clean. I would straighten and scrub before inviting people over and still apologize as my mom friends walked in the door.
I’m not even sure why I was apologizing.
Did I imagine other women kept their house cleaner and neater? Was I worried that they were judging my home? I think it had something to do with me trying to present myself as a person who was in control of the chaos that is my life. Then I think it just turned into a habit.
I’ve decided to stop apologizing. I think you should too.
A few years ago, I took my son over to play at a friend’s house. It was his first time there and my first time meeting the mom. They had just moved in and the mom was in the middle of painting a bedroom. There were kids running through the house jumping over toys and shooting nerf guns at each other. Painting supplies and boxes were scattered throughout the house. But there were no apologies. The mom simply stated, “I’m painting today; I’m so excited about how the room is going to turn out.” In the past two years I’ve been to their house a few times and seen it in many stages: neat as a pin as I’m dropping my son off for a birthday party, happily messy as I’m picking my son up after the party and everything in between. Not once has this mom apologized for the state of the house and why should she?
Aren’t our homes the same? Cluttered and chaotic when we put chores aside to play with our kids, when we decide we need to catch up on our latest Netflix binge, or because illness has hit our homes. Sparkling and smelling fresh after a Saturday scrub down or in preparation for a party. We live here and our space reflects that-our kids, our jobs, our busy lives.
So I’m not going to apologize anymore! I’m just going to live in my home, stop caring what others might think and break my habit of apologizing for the mess!
As soon as I heard about this challenge, I knew I wanted to participate! The main reason I blog and write about parenting is to lift other mommies up! To let them know that it’s hard, but we are all feeling the struggle. Not one of us is perfect! Let’s celebrate our strengths and stop focusing on what we don’t do well or what we feel like we should be doing better.
Thanks you so much to Kayla O’Neill at Parenting Expert Mom for tagging me in this challenge.
I’m tagging Kaity Stuckert at Beeautiful Blessings, Catherine Murton at Kid & Kin, Rebecca Lyn Miller at Mommy Takes 5, and Madelyn Harrah at Happy Hippy Homemaker.
Show us what you’ve got ladies!
1. I KNOW THAT PERFECTION IS A MYTH: I used to think that being the perfect mom was attainable. Now I know it’s a myth. Once I got to know the moms in community, the ones that seemed perfect, the ones that seemed like they had it all together, I learned that they had the same struggles and insecurities that I did. It was like a weight lifted off my shoulders. I no longer felt the need to try to be a certain way and I stopped caring what other people thought of my abilities as a mom.
2. I’M LOUD AND CRAZY: My house is never quiet! We are a big, loud family! We sing and dance and sock-ice skate in the kitchen. We make up our own songs and belt the words out. We chase each other around the house and smack talk when we play UNO and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I hope my children remember our house as loud and fun!
3. I APOLOGIZE: I make a lot of mistakes. I holler at my kids. I forget to wash their karate suit. I get them to school late. But I always apologize. I know I’m not a perfect mom and I want my kids to know that too. I want them to learn that sometimes we mess up: we forget things, we’re mean, we hurt people’s feelings. I want them to be gentle with themselves when they make a mistake and to see the importance of apologizing when you do.
4. I VALUE KINDNESS OVER INTELLIGENCE: Now that my kids are in school, it’s obvious that some have an easier time with schoolwork. While we celebrate all achievements in our home, I am more impressed when my children act kind and generous and loving to one another than when they bring home an A.
5. I GIVE MY CHILDREN ONE ON ONE TIME: With four siblings, I’m sure my kids sometimes feel a little lost in the shuffle, so we go on dates to the arcade or to play mini golf. It’s sometimes hard to fit into our busy schedule but it’s worth it to reconnect with each child and to show them how much I love them!
6. I PUT MY HUSBAND FIRST: Hard as it may be with 4 little kids, I try to make my husband and our marriage a priority. Someday these kids will be grown and gone and it will just be me and hubby left. I don’t want him and our relationship to get lost in the chaos. I also want to teach my children what a good relationship showing them.
7. I MAKE THEM DO CHORES: My school age kids have daily chores and Saturday chores. When the kids sweep and wipe the table, it’s not as clean as when I do it (not even close-sometimes it even looks worse!) I’m not trying to teach them how to be expert cleaners, I’m trying to teach them that this is what we do in a family – we take care of our things and we help each other out.
8. I DON’T LET THEM QUIT: When my kids want to join sport or play and instrument I don’t let them quit. If they sign up a season of soccer and decide they don’t like it after two practices, we still go to soccer until the end of the season. I hope this is teaching them to be faithful to their obligations and to be thoughtful about what activities they sign up for.
9. I TAKE CARE OF MYSELF: Over the years I’ve learned that I need to take care of myself to be a good mom-that sometimes the best thing for the whole family is for mom to leave on Saturday morning and not come back until dinnertime. For most families I know, the mom sets the tone for the house. Taking time for myself and coming back refreshed sets a nicer tone than staying in the house and feeling resentful.
10. I TELL MY CHILDREN THAT I LOVE THEM: It may seem small, but it’s important and I do it all day long accompanied with lots of hugs for as long as they let me!
Now it’s time for you to toot your horn! How are you rocking motherhood?