The Mess of Motherhood

I have always had an aversion to mess. My messes, I can ignore. Other people’s messes, I feel my skin start to crawl and my hands start to twitch and my brain starts screaming “clean it! wipe it up! keep it from spreading!” This is something I know to be true about myself and I keep it under control most of the time, but the times it comes out worst are the times I’m interacting with small children. You know… those little creatures that live almost solely to create messes and don’t care where or how bad they are?

Yeah. Those things.

A few weeks ago, my mother-in-law was volunteered at the last minute to teach the one- and two-year-old Wednesday night class at church and I got pulled in by association. The class went well and we didn’t have any tears from anybody, and in the last ten minutes we put all seven of the toddlers into the floor to play with the puzzles, etc. This is when the problem began.

I suddenly found myself following the children around, trying to pick up their pieces as quickly as they could scatter them around the room. I realized that, while my mother-in-law watched the group as a whole and waited for the bell to ring, I was desperately trying to contain the mess without keeping the kids from playing… an impossible balance to achieve.

It dawned on me right there in the floor that this will be my biggest problem as a mother. I feel like I will be able to handle boo-boos, tantrums and nasty poopy diapers, but it’s the food on their faces, the blocks in the floor, the odds and ends scattered throughout the house that will drive me insane. I am going to have to learn to let the kids play and make what messes they will (within reason, of course), and then get it cleaned up after they go to bed.

Because I know, logically, that no matter how quickly I wipe the sauce off their highchairs they will always manage to smear more onto their faces before I can stop them. It’s a never-ending battle that can only be won by waiting for dinner to be over and then putting the child – probably clothes and all – into the tub and cleaning up the kitchen table after bedtime. I know this. But my brain has a very, VERY hard time accepting it.

Because that child – *twitch* – has gravy – *twitch* – in his hair – *twitch twitch twitch*…….

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