Earlier this month I had the opportunity to escape from the city and spend several days in the mountains with dear friends. The vistas were breathtaking, the massive gourmet kitchen was ideal for four adults who love to cook, and the screened in porch was the perfect place to unwind. It was wonderful and relaxing and refreshing. But it was also messy. Very messy.
Toddlers (plural) are exponentially messier than their number would suggest. While I have mastered (almost) the art of real-time tidying for a single babe in a small home, I was no match for the crumbs and clutter generated by three kiddos under the age of four who managed to find every closet, fireplace, and other innovative repository for food, toys, and dirt. Broken crayons snuck into couch cushions and cupboard corners, stickers adhered to every flat surface in the home, and wooden blocks became a gauntlet to be faced every time we walked through the living room.
And then there was the kitchen. As four cooking enthusiasts with the luxury of time and space, preparations for the next meal or snack commenced almost immediately after finishing the last. Dishes were in constant need of washing, counters were desperate for a good wipe down, and the table begged to be freed from the chubby fingerprints of budding gourmands.
At first I tried to grab every crumb as it fell, wash every dish as it was used, and put away every toy as it was tossed aside, but I quickly recognized the futility of my efforts and decided instead to embrace the mess. I chose to take a vacation from my compulsion for order and organization, and in doing so I found relief. We learned how to circumnavigate the block fortresses, left the dishes for later in the day, and put our feet up. Much to my amazement, we not only survived, we had fun!
I know better than to think the easy rhythm of vacation will survive the routines and demands of real life, but I am emboldened by discovering that it is possible to relax in the absence of complete order. I am committed to sitting down for dinner even if all the pots and pans haven't been washed and dried. I will prioritize connecting with my husband over a glass of wine at the end of a long day rather than rushing around to clear the room of toys. I will embrace (some) mess and enjoy the fleeting moments of ease while I can.
Can you let go of your need for order and control and allow yourself to get messy? What might a little mess add to your life?