Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Mess Test

            I’m sure you've seen the e-cards that say, and I paraphrase, ‘I’d rather have a happy home and healthy kids than a clean house.’  I should have that inscribed on a prominent wall in my home.  To be honest, I wasn't the world’s best house keeper before I had the boys.  I’d wait to dust until I saw it, dishes routinely stayed in the strainer rather than be dried and put away, clothes, even though I folded them, spent quality time in the hamper, rather than in the dresser drawers. 
            Enter one, then two toddlers, and, vĂ³ila!  Hurricane House!  Let me give you a little taste – an evening that I have fondly dubbed “The Mess Test.”  I was home alone with the boys and we were having dinner at the kitchen table:
            5:30 – Alex’s cup falls to the floor and milk leaks out
            5:45 – Alex manages to get more rice on himself and the floor than in his mouth
            6:00 – Andrew decides to stand up with his cup (with no lid) and drops it on the floor
            7:00 – The boys run out of paper and decide to decorate the kitchen floor
            7:15 – The boys realize the joys of drawing on each other’s back
            We generally follow the if you made the mess, you clean the mess, philosophy in our house, therefore, they each took a turn “helping” with each mess.  I use this term “help” loosely here.  I don’t know if you've ever had a toddler try to “help” you clean, if not, you might want to rethink it.  It’s a simple equation really: toddler + helping to clean mess = more mess for Mommy to clean.
            When I sat down that night, with a glass of wine in front of the fire (yes, really), I asked myself, Was tonight some kind of test to see how many messes I could tolerate?  Then I shook my head and smiled.  I realized how lucky I was to have these little messes.  We cook dinner at home six nights a week and eat together as a family.  The dishes remind me of this special nightly ritual.  The boys are extremely curious and active, it’s only naturally that things will get bumped, spilled and sometimes dented or cracked.  We are very fortunate to have a beautiful home that needs dusting and a plethora of clothing that needs washing.
            So I accept the challenge of the mess test!  I know there will be moments I will grumble or grip at the task laid before me, but in the end, I will raise my glass and say, “Cheers!” to my happy, healthy and lived in home.