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Mess Is Best

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Being a neat freak and a new mom don't mix!

messy kid
Christina Montoya Fiedler: As I sit here, watching my 10-month-old trying to feed himself dinner, I realize that being a mother and a clean freak do not mix. Whites are no longer their whitest. There is a fine layer of filth on nearly everything, and the smell of stale milk haunts rooms long after it's been cleaned up. Before my son, everything had a place and everything was in its place -- so to speak. Not anymore. On a good day, I can find the remote, and a spot to set down my cup of coffee in the morning. On a really good day, I have a spot to sit and drink that coffee.

So, from here on out, I am resigning myself to messiness. Well, because mess happens. Here is my new creed:

1. I will no longer worry about stains that get ground into the carpet.
When usually I would painstakingly scrub on hands and knees, I'll now admire the new shades of "lived-in."
2. I will resign myself to the fact that mess can be fun. Really, it can. It's a chance to let go a little, enjoy life in the moment.
3. I will resign myself to the fact that messes can also be educational. How else can my son understand the textures of foods and discover the wonders of the outdoors?
4. Dirt never hurt anyone. It didn't. No one ever died from a mud pie.
5. Letting go of the old stuffy you is a win-win for everyone. Let's just leave it at that.
6. But, there is a balance. You can make a mess and still enjoy a deep cleaning of your kitchen every now and again. Peace in both worlds.
7. Messes provide good photo ops. Nothing's cuter than those filthy-faced highchair shots. Everyone should have at least one in their photo albums.
8. Messes are not always my responsibility. Two parents equals two helpers.
9. Messes can be figurative as well. Considering all the other kinds of messes you can have ("family" messes, "friend" messes, "relationship" messes), an actual mess that can be cleaned up with water and soap is not so bad. If only all other messes were that easy.
10. Sometimes a mess is best. When there is no way around it, it's best to just give in.

Remember, mess happens. Who's with me?

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4 comments so far | Post a comment now
ame i. July 7, 2009, 1:38 PM

I moved into my current home almost 10 years ago, pregnant with my 9 year old daughter with my 18 month old daughter & late husband.
We chose carpet 1 grade above the cheapest available. When the builder said he was going to have the painter apply a second coat to the interior walls, we said “Don’t bother”. We knew what was in store for the carpet & walls, ha!
Three years ago one of my aunts painted all interior walls. She is one of those odd people who loves to paint ;)When my “new” husband and I married 2 years ago, we replaced the carpets with hardwood.
This is the first marriage (and first kids) for new Hubby. There was a bit of an adjustment period for him. His pre-marriage home was spotless due to the fact that he worked long hours, had a cleaning person in once a week, and had spent 2 decades in the military so he’d been trained to be neat, ha.
Our girls are 9 and 11 now, not as prone to messiness, but with 3 cats in the mix, our home is rarely spotless but we don’t care.

Anonymous July 9, 2009, 6:10 PM

I’m going to be a first-time mom soon and I’m dreading the mess that will come with the new baby. You are so right that I need to just go with it and not worry so much about cleaning. I met a mother of a 10-year-old boy recently, and she said her one regret with raising him was that she wished she wouldn’t have cared so much about cleaning - and spent more time with him playing.

Stephanie July 9, 2009, 9:54 PM

You are so right. I should worry less about clean and play with my son more. I know he would love me for it.

Mandy S. July 13, 2009, 5:23 PM

With our 18 month old son, I found myself in a constant state of anxiety over how our house looked. After months of worry, I ditched the “guest bedroom” and created a playroom for our boy so that toys weren’t strewn about all over the living room. Then I took the next step towards clean and stress free living, gave up part of my “clothing allowance” and hired someone to come in a do the dirty work once per month. I am so happy on the day that I come home and she’s been there, and it’s worth every penny to be able to “maintain the clean” than clean up the mess and enjoy those moments with my family.

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