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Finding Happiness in Messiness of Life

Life doesn't wait for us to finish the dishes or do the laundry. It's happening right now, so live it!

My house is a mess.  I'm not playing with you, I mean dir-ty. Yes, that photo to the right is my kitchen and no I'm not ashamed to bare my messiness to the world.  There are brown stains on my kitchen floors, clothes strewn throughout, dish bowls full of milk and soggy cereal, scattered chinese take-out boxes, papers everywhere, toys on the floor, pencils and crayons on the counters and all the beds are un-made.

Four years ago, I would never never allowed this to happen.  Back then, I obsessively cleaned and then had the audacity to say to visitors, "oh, I'm so sorry the house is a wreck", in the hopes that they'd say, "are you kidding, this place is spotless and now I feel bad about myself for not being as clean and organized as you, you are fantastic and amazing, how do you do it? What magic powers do you possess? I bow down to you, oh great one."

But last night with my kitchen in runis, my youngest daughter said, "do you want to come and feed my fish?"

I took a quick look around the house and thought, "I really should clean this place a bit."  But then, I dropped what was in my hand onto the floor and said, "sure! why not!"

We went upstairs and I fed her glutenous fish much more than she should have eaten and then I went across the hall into my oldest daughter's room.  I sat on the floor, visited with her and hand-fed her guinea pig an entire stick of celery which she ate with paper shredder-like precision.

 Then I sat and read a book with my son and tickled him and sniffed him on the back of his neck where he smells like heaven and instead of coming back downstairs and worrying about how much cleaning needed done, I prayed and the prayer drifted me to sleep and I slept 10 hours straight, waking up feeling happy and rested and loved. The peace in my house is overwhelming, it's like floating on a cloud of happy, a cloud that never touches the ground.

I did not yell at my kids to clean their rooms.  I did not stress about the state of disarray in which we currently live.  I did not beat myself up about the piles of laundry overflowing in my closet.  And I did not sell my happiness, contentment or precious time with my family for the price of having an organized house or life.

This person I have become is unrecognizable. I wish I could say that I did something different or that I did something to change myself but that would be a lie.  I am being changed by God.  He is showing me my options and giving me the strength to choose the right ones. 

There was a time when I would have been so stressed out at the lack of cleanliness or organization that I would have lashed out at my husband and my kids.  I was looking for fulfillment in my ability to control everything around me and when I couldn't keep all the balls in the air and everything threatened to fall apart, I was frustrated. And certainly not fun to live with!  It wasn't that long ago that I was miserable in my ineffectiveness to maintain perfection.

Sometimes my house will get clean but most days I'm going to choose to take a walk and enjoy this incredibly amazing weather or I'm going to volunteer my time somewhere or visit a friend who is sick and clean her house instead.

My house will always be here to clean.  Those bowls of soggy cereal? They will wait for me.  My life won't.  These moments where I can sit on the couch and kiss my husband will pass.  This very small window of time with my kids is closing fast.  Why would I choose to do the dishes rather than sit and play a board game?  My kids will never remember that I washed their clothes but they will remember the times I said, "lets go outside and play in the mud!"

You know that saying, "would you rather be right or be happy?"  I think I needed another question: "would I rather be in control or be happy?" There was a time when I would have chosen to be in control for the false sense of happiness it afforded. Today, I choose differently. I choose to invest my time in something worthwhile, something that brings me joy rather than the smoke and mirrors of control.

And my house? I'm starting to get used to it.  If you showed up to visit on a day when it was particularly bad (like today), I wouldn't even run and hide in my bedroom and pretend I wasn't home.  I would invite you in, shove the toys, papers and dishes on the table to one side and offer you a cup of coffee.  If I was able to find the coffee filters!

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Karen Rettich September 26, 2012 at 11:53 PM
Wonderful! I don't feel so bad about my three loads of laundry screaming to be folded and the crock pot begging to be cleaned! Thank you!!
Cate Tsahalis September 27, 2012 at 02:16 AM
This is an awesome post, Alicia. I drive myself crazy trying to keep my home under control, because I feel better when things are organized. That being said, it's important to see beyond the chaos, because so much life is happening around the dirty dishes and piles of laundry. I'll remember your wise words next time I freak out over a dirty floor that I just washed yesterday!
Alicia Yost September 27, 2012 at 11:50 AM
Thanks guys! I love that other women will look around their not-so-perfect houses and say, "meh, I'm gonna give myself permission to be happy and have a great day today, even if my sneakers stick to the kitchen floor every time I walk through it!" :)
militaryspouse September 27, 2012 at 01:37 PM
I keep trying to keep it clean...but then I try really hard to remember what my house looked like when I was little. What I remember is that I didn't care! My wall paper was ugly, our furniture was old. We all took turns with chores. What is endearing to me is cuddling with Dad on his night off, Mom playing games with us. Soon enough my kids won't want me around...bring on the Barbies dress up while I can! Those dishes, laundry, weeds, floors......will still be there!
Alicia Yost September 27, 2012 at 02:25 PM
Exactly! I don't want to miss the opportunity to make those incredible lasting memories with my kids. Mostly, they just want me to be silly with them. I'm starting to realize that I was measuring myself as a wife and mother by the completely wrong yardstick! It's not about how clean my house is, it's actually based on how dirty! If the dirty is a result of me lavishing my attention on my family.

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